Bill Seeks To Provide Nutritious Meals for Charter School Students
Assembly member Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) has introduced a bill (AB 1594) that would provide low-income students attending charter schools with one nutritious meal each school day at no cost or at aÂ reduced price, California Watch reports.
The state Assembly Education Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.
Charter schools currently are exempt from a state law requiring public schools "to provide each needy pupil one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day."
About 18% of classroom-based California charter schools do not offer low-income students breakfast or lunch, according to a 2010 state audit.
The audit determined that low-income children attend charter schools at about the same rate that they attend public schools.
The bill wouldÂ expand the current state law to include low-income students at charter schools.
Alexis Fernandez of California Food Policy Advocates -- which sponsored the legislation -- said, "The bill seeks to ensure consistency in access to nutrition benefits, because we don't necessarily know what all charter schools are doing in terms of meeting the nutritional needs of students."
Eng said the bill "levels the playing field so children, whether in public or charter school, will have the same advantages that will lead to classroom performance, higher test scores and lower obesity rates."
Opposition to the Bill
Colin Miller -- vice president of policy for the California Charter Schools Association -- said the group opposes the bill. He said, "We believe there are significant barriers to charter schools to participate in these programs, despite a desire and willingness to do so."
According to California Watch, obstacles could include that some charter schools do not have kitchens and that some are have too few students to make a lunch program financially feasible (Yeung, California Watch, 3/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.