Press Release

California Bill Will Ensure that No Student Will Go Hungry Due to Faith

Sacramento, Calif – In an important step to promote inclusivity and dietary choice for students, the Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 1080 (SB 1080), the Halal and Kosher School Meals Act, with a unanimous vote of 7-0. The timely move, which also coincides with both the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Passover, ensures that schools with a significant population of students who keep halal or kosher diets will provide these meal options.

The bill, from Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), recognizes the importance of providing all students with access to nutritious meals that align with their religious and cultural dietary practices – something particularly important during significant religious holidays.

“Every student deserves to feel supported and included at school,” said Senator Newman, who also chairs the Senate Education Committee. “Kids shouldn’t have to choose between hunger and adhering to their religious beliefs. SB 1080 creates a more equitable system for students who observe halal or kosher dietary practices. When suitable meals aren’t available for these students, they often have to go without eating at school, something that is fundamentally unfair and clearly detrimental to their educational experience.”

Both halal and kosher diets adhere to religious guidelines regarding food preparation and permissible ingredients.

•    Kosher meals adhere to Jewish dietary law, which involves specific animal selection, preparation methods, and the prohibition of mixing meat and dairy.
•    Halal meals are considered permissible under Islamic law. They include meat from animals slaughtered in a specific manner and exclude foods like pork.

A significant portion of the Jewish population adhere to kosher dietary practices. A 2021 study from the Pew Research Center found approximately 22% of American Jews keep kosher in their homes.[1] A 2021 report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) found that 83% of American Muslims either only purchase halal-certified foods or prefer halal foods while still purchasing non-certified options if not religiously forbidden.[2]

Under SB 1080, which will take effect in the 2025-2026 school year, schools where more than a 5% share of their population express a preference for halal or kosher options will be required to provide these meals. The bill also allows schools to survey the preferences of students to determine eligibility.

 “There have been various times where at school I had to skip out on eating lunch because, by the time I got through the lunch line, everything I could eat was out,” said Rosa Haideri, a Muslim student from the Elk Grove Unified School District who testified at the hearing. “Offering halal foods is significant to ensure respect for the dietary needs of Muslim students. It creates an environment where all students feel valued but also promotes and celebrates the religious diversity in our schools here in California, fostering a sense of belonging and equality.”

“I’m looking forward to helping the state of California provide every K-12 student the opportunity to get food in the cafeteria,” said Rabbi Evan Rubin of Kenesset Israel Torah Center and president of the Sacramento Board of Rabbis.

SB 1080 represents another important step in increasing equity in our school meals. The bill now advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Brian Wheatley at 916.651.4029.


State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in Fullerton with his wife and daughter.

[1] “Jewish Practices and Customs in the U.S.” Pew Research Center, 11 May 2021,

[2] “The Majority of Muslims in the U.S. Either Prefer or Require Keeping a Halal Diet: An Analysis for Decision Makers.” Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 18 Oct. 2023,