SB 98: State Meal Mandate Update
Senate Bill (SB) 98, Education Finance: Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill (Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) was amended and signed into law on June 29, 2020. You can view this law on the California Legislative Information web page
California Education Code (EC) Section 49550 requires school districts and county offices of education (COE) to provide nutritionally adequate meals to pupils who are eligible for free and reduced-price (F/RP) meals every school day. EC Section 47613.5 extends this requirement to charter schools, including those charter schools offering nonclassroom-based instruction for eligible pupils on any school day that the pupil is scheduled for educational activities lasting two or more hours at a school site, resource center, meeting space, or other satellite facility operated by the charter school.
Section 34 of the 2020 Budget Act amends EC Section 49550 and EC Section 47613.5 to add distance learning as an instructional model and requires school districts, COEs, and charter schools to provide nutritionally adequate meals for pupils who are eligible for F/RP meals whether engaged in in-person instruction or distance learning.
A nutritionally adequate meal (breakfast and lunch) must meet the federal meal pattern requirements and is defined in EC Section 49531 as:
A nutritionally adequate breakfast...is one that qualifies for reimbursement under the most current meal pattern requirement for the federal School Breakfast Program, as defined in Section 220.8 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR). A nutritionally adequate lunch is one that qualifies for reimbursement under the most current meal pattern for the federal National School Lunch Program, as defined in Section 210.10 of 7 CFR.
Distance learning means instruction in which the pupil and instructor are in different locations and pupils are under the general supervision of a certified employee of the local educational agency. Distance learning may include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
- Interaction, instructions, and check-ins between teachers and pupils through the use of a computer or communications technology
- Video or audio instruction in which the primary mode of communication between the pupil and certified employee is online interaction, instructional television, video, telecourses, or other instruction that relies on computer or communications technology
- The use of print materials incorporating assignments that are the subject of written or oral feedback
Non-classroom based charter schools do not provide distance learning as defined in EC Section 43500(a). As a result, this new requirement does not apply to non-classroom based charters who were defined as such pursuant to EC Section 47612.5 as of the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year.
This law is contingent upon the California Department of Education receiving an approved waiver to allow noncongregate feeding and meal service time flexibility from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each day of the scheduled school year. On June 25, 2020, the USDA released nationwide waivers to allow noncongregate feeding and meal service time flexibility through June 30, 2021.
The Nutrition Services Division will provide more information on this subject in an upcoming Management Bulletin.
If you have any questions regarding the subject, please contact your county’s School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Specialist. A list of SNP Specialists is available in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System, Form ID Caseload. You can also contact Jeremy Partsch, SNP Unit Office Technician, by phone at 916-322-3005 or 800-952-5609, Option 2, or by email at email@example.com to be directed to your SNP Specialist.