AB-0354: Free or reduced-price school meals

Session: 2019-2020
Author: Quirk-Silva
Status: Vetoed
AAP-CA Position: Support
To view the status of this bill on the State Website, click here.
Requires a school district, county office of education, or charter school that does not participate in a federal school meal program to provide adequate space for pupils to consume meals and to report to the California Department of Education (CDE) the alternative meal program each of its schoolsites will follow to ensure that each needy pupil is provided with a free or reduced-price meal. Requires CDE to conduct onsite reviews of those local educational agencies’ (LEA) schools to verify compliance with federal nutrition requirements, commencing with the 2021–22 school year.

Last Action:

10/12/19 Vetoed by Governor.
Governor’s Veto Message
To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 354 without my signature.

This bill requires local schools that do not participate in a federal school meal program to provide adequate space for students to consume meals. It requires the schools to report to the California Department of Education (CDE) the alternative meal program each of its schoolsites will follow. Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, it requires the CDE to implement a monitoring program, including onsite reviews of these schoolsites, to verify compliance with federal nutrition requirements.

Current law already requires school districts and county offices of education to provide each student in need one nutritionally adequate free or reduced- priced meal during the school day. AB 1871 (Chapter 480, Statutes of 2018), required charter schools to provide each student in need with a nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal each school day. | have not seen evidence of widespread disregard for these requirements that warrants such a prescriptive approach.

This bill would impose substantial ongoing costs, a matter that should be considered within the state budget process, where the Administration and Legislature can balance the competing demands with limited resources.

I have directed my Department of Finance to develop options to expand access to free and reduced-price meal programs. | look forward to working with you in next year’s budget to improve this important program.

GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM

Download AAP Positional Letter: AB 354