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Expanded WA free-meal program headed to a school near you

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It may not be the universal free school meals plan that supporters originally pushed for, but a bill that would expand the program to Washington state's youngest students is heading to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk for a signature.

House Bill 1238 passed with an overwhelming majority of lawmakers in favor.

About 90,000 students will be able to receive free breakfast and lunch during the next school year. Currently, federal funding covers meals for students with the highest needs. School officials say that many don’t qualify under federal eligibility guidelines, but still struggle to pay for food.

In its first year, the program will expand to schools with 40% or more students who qualify for free or reduced meals.

Supporters had hoped for a universal program, but with an estimated cost of $100 million a year, lawmakers opted for a scaled-back version, at least for now.

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