Home California Sen. Skinner Introduces Bill to Ensure School Meals for All Kids

Sen. Skinner Introduces Bill to Ensure School Meals for All Kids

by ECT
Nancy Skinner

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced legislation to make free meals available to every public school student without any burdensome application process or eligibility determination. With provisions that emphasize meals that are freshly prepared with locally grown food, SB 364, School Meals for All, will reduce hunger, improve learning, help families, and support California farmers and food producers.

“Free education for every child has long been the norm. Knowing how essential nutrition is to learning, it makes sense that free, healthy meals also be the norm,” Sen. Skinner said. “SB 364 will ensure that students are fed without the red tape schools and families are currently burdened with.”

State and federal programs fund free and reduced-price meals for schoolchildren from low-income families. But over the years, many kids have been effectively locked out of the program due to mandatory and burdensome application processes and out-of-date federal income guidelines. During the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. Congress passed the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act to allow meals to be served to all children without these paperwork burdens. SB 364 will use this model and allow schools to continue providing meals for all children after the pandemic is over.

Though California is an abundant producer of food, our kids are going hungry at an alarming rate. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, 15.2% of children in California were experiencing hunger, and that number has now nearly doubled. Providing a school meal to all students is an important step in addressing hunger.

“Schools needn’t be in the business of deciding who gets lunch and who doesn’t. It’s costly and contrary to the basic purpose of free education,” Skinner added. “SB 364 will end this unnecessary bureaucracy and set the table so that every student is entitled to a school meal just as they are entitled to schooling.”

SB 364 will also establish an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program to ensure that children have access to food when schools are closed during breaks and prolonged disasters. The proposal builds on the current Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, recently established by the federal government to ensure that kids have access to food while schools are closed during the pandemic. In recognition of California’s vibrant agriculture economy, SB 364 also prioritizes food grown and produced in California.

“As the nation’s largest agricultural economy, California farmers and ranchers could be the heroes of food security and feeding our future, our children,” said Kat Taylor, founding director of TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, a co-sponsor of School Meals for All. “SB 364 is a bold vision to make California the first state in the nation to provide all kids with nutritious, locally grown school food.”

Members of the School Meals for All coalition include: The Office of Kat Taylor, the Center for Ecoliteracy, NextGen California, California Association of Food Banks, Food Research & Action Center, GRACE/End Child Poverty, Nourish California, Eat.Learn.Play Foundation, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Common Sense, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Growing the Table, Frog Hollow Farm, Stemple Creek Ranch, Culinary Farm at Marin Country Day School, Neighborhood Industries, and TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation.

 

Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is Senate majority whip, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and vice chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.

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8 comments

Jo Stewart Feb 12, 2021 - 3:08 pm

It’s up to the parents to provide meals for their kids. I see parents with kids shopping for cases of beer when the money they use to buy beer should go TO THEIR KIDS LUNCHES! Let’s not raise a GENERATION OF BEGGARS!

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Love Medic 57 Feb 13, 2021 - 9:09 am

Exactly right, Jo. Well said. Agree 100%. Leave it to a Democrat to come up with this crazy idea. With a President in office with absolutely no brain, expect to see more of this.

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Gwen Holt Feb 13, 2021 - 3:59 pm

One guy I saw buying cases of beer even told me that because the taxpayer is funding his kids’ breakfasts and lunches, that leaves him more money for booze. What a guy!

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Yeahright Feb 13, 2021 - 6:19 pm

Could we just concentrate on getting our kids back to school? Once we get children safely back to school, then we can look at the possibility of adding programs. But right now, we don’t know the cost of preparing our schools for in person, full time learning.

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Pacman Feb 13, 2021 - 6:54 pm

Senator Skinner is a communist. She wants to empty the jails, remove our borders, and get our youth “hooked” on government assistance. Her voting base of Berkeley also wants communism/anarchy. She is not a friend to the CA we used to know. It is sad that this radical even has a voice in our representative government.

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Keith Johnston Feb 15, 2021 - 12:51 am

With technology so advanced, kids can use computers to learn instead of having to be in a school setting where they can pick up diseases and have to put up with the disruptive behavior of other kids. The school buildings should be used to house the HOMELESS until they can return to their home states after the pandemic is over. Our 4 kids will continue using ZOOM and other available means of learning. No more government schools!

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LoveableCurmudgeon Feb 15, 2021 - 8:56 am

Blah, blah, blah…..from people without hearts and common sense. Your tales of “ I saw a person buying beer instead of food for the kids”. Utter nonsense. First of all, that person was probably using a debit card ( food stamps don’t exist anymore because of the stigma attached) , so you don’t have any idea about what’s going on. And second, and more importantly, how is a bad thing to provide nutritious meals to ALL kids? Are we so heartless to let kids go hungry, for ANY reason? It’s certainly a good way to spend my tax dollars. I’d guess that many naysayers think of themselves as good Christians, so they might consider that Jesus told us to look out for each other. We are a society and should be willing to treat everyone with good Christian values

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Your Mother Feb 15, 2021 - 9:34 pm

Leave it to the MAGA-cult to twist “feeding all kids in public schools” into the paranoid fantasy of a covert communist plot to overthrow the world. Seriously, the far Right conspiracies are becoming more laughable by the day. It’s like the more methed out and redneckish the idea the better, the GOP eats it up. It’s time to hang up the camouflage, throw away the tinfoil hat and stop sipping the koolaid flavored hydrochloroquine. Your orange skinned cult leader got fired, move on already 👍🏼

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