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CNAC Legislative Update, October 2012

Child Nutrition Advisory Council legislative update for the October 29, 2012 meeting.
Assembly Bill 2555, Carter: Amendment to EC 49548, Free or reduced-price meals: summer school session: waivers.

Existing law requires each school district or county superintendent of schools maintaining any kindergarten or any of grades one to twelve, inclusive, to provide for each needy pupil one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day, except as specified. Existing law requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to grant a one-year waiver from that requirement during a summer school session if specified conditions exist. Existing law requires an application for a waiver to be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the last regular meeting of the state board before the commencement of the summer school session for which the waiver is sought.

This bill changes the waiver submission deadline to no later than 60 days before the last regular meeting of the SBE before the commencement of the summer school session.

The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) submitted the legislative proposal for this bill.

Governor Brown signed the bill.

Assembly Bill 1640, Mitchell: CalWORKs and CalFresh Benefits—Pregnant Mothers

This bill allows CalWORKs aid be paid to a pregnant mother at any time after the verification of pregnancy, regardless of whether she is eligible for the Cal-Learn program. This bill also prohibits a pregnant woman or teenager from being denied or made ineligible for CalFresh benefits or from being required to participate in the CalFresh Employment and Training program, at any time after the verification of pregnancy.

From the California Department of Education’s (CDE) viewpoint, when Cal-Learn is operative, this bill would result in more children qualifying for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) through application or the direct certification process. However, in the absence of Cal-Learn, this bill will not impact NSLP participation and the NSD.

The CDE’s recommended position was “watch," meaning the bill may contain intent language or other indication there may be significant changes made at a later date that CDE may disapprove or oppose.

Governor Brown signed the bill.

Assembly Bill 2367, Bonilla: School Gardens

Existing law establishes the Instructional School Gardens Program for the promotion, creation, and support of instructional school gardens. Under existing law, a school district, charter school, or county office of education may apply to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for funding for a 3-year grant in order to develop and maintain an instructional school garden. Existing law limits the grants to a maximum of $2,500 per school site, except as provided.

This bill authorizes a school district, charter school, or county office of education to sell surplus produce grown in a school garden, if in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local health and safety requirements for the production, processing, and distribution of the produce.

The NSD’s opinion was that the bill would add more bureaucracy than necessary. Schools are already selling produce on school campuses as fundraising. In addition, school food services already have the authority to purchase from the school garden.

The CDE disapproved of this bill.

Governor Brown signed the bill.

Assembly Bill 1872, Alejo: Family Day Care Homes

This bill would require family day care homes to adhere to certain nutrition standards in the provision of meals and snacks. The bill would also require family day care homes to keep daily menus, available for parents and guardians to see, of all meals and snacks served, as specified.

The CDE supported this bill.

Governor Brown vetoed the bill, stating: “The bill would require family child care homes to serve food in conformance with the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, which offers reimbursement for meals that meet certain criteria.

I can support a measure that helps family child care providers learn about nutrition and serve healthier foods at a lower cost, but this bill goes beyond that. Small businesses such as family day care providers don't need another confusing mandate that adds to their struggles to stay afloat.”

Assembly Bill 1594, Eng: Mandatory Meals at Charter Schools

This bill would require public charter schools to provide at least one nutritionally adequate meal per day to each needy student. Charter schools providing "only nonclassroom-based instruction" or only online instruction would be exempt. Non classroom-based instruction is defined in the EC as including, but not limited to, "independent study, home study, work study, and distance and computer-based education."

The CDE supported this bill.

Governor Brown vetoed the bill, stating: “Pupil nutrition is profoundly important, but so also is the fundamental premise of charter schools that they be free from large portions of the voluminous state Education Code.

I am reluctant to erode the independence and flexibility that have well served the families and teachers who choose charter schools.”

Assembly Bill 1616, Gatto: Food safety: cottage food operations.

This bill includes a cottage food operation, as defined, that is registered or has a permit within the private home exemption of the California Retail Food Code. The bill also excludes a cottage food operation from specified food processing establishment and Sherman Law requirements.

This bill requires a cottage food operation to meet specified requirements relating to training, sanitation, preparation, labeling, and permissible types of sales and would subject a cottage food operation to inspections under specified circumstances. The bill also requires a food facility that serves a cottage food product without packaging or labeling to identify it as homemade. The bill establishes various zoning and permit requirements relating to cottage food operations.

There are implications for the sale of items in schools that are prepared by a "cottage food operation,” however, nothing requires the schools to purchase from a cottage food operation. There may be isolated incidents when the legality of home-prepared items being sold in school food facilities is questioned, but in those situations the home will need to show they have a valid permit as a cottage food operation.

Governor Brown signed the bill.

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