Dear California Congressional Leaders,
We write to request that you take urgent action to support programs that offer a critical source of nutrition for children, support California farmers, and improve administrative efficiency at our schools. Specifically, we ask that any end-of-year legislative package include two specific provisions: (1) improvements to the school meal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP); and (2) the establishment of a permanent Summer EBT program.
First, California children, schools and farmers would greatly benefit if an end-of-year package included expansion of CEP by:
- Allowing a statewide CEP option; and,
- Expanding the number of schools that can be CEP eligible by raising the CEP
The California Legislature passed and Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first in the nation to provide free school meals for all public school children. We thank the California Congressional leaders’ support for school meals and applaud that the White House’s #1 recommendation in its strategy to address hunger is advancing a pathway to school meals for all.
California’s School Meals for All is widely supported by families, teachers, school administrators and California’s growers and producers. In fact, a precursor to school meals for all, the Farm to School Incubator grant program administered by California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), has been widely embraced and utilized across the state. This year’s rollout of School Meals for All was smooth and more successful than comparable statewide programs of this breadth.
When adopted together, statewide CEP and the 2.5 multiplier would reinforce California’s universal meal program, ensure that our agriculture community continues to benefit, and secure administrative efficiency for schools and families. It would also allow for significant reinvestment of funds that California is currently spending on meals to be redirected to strengthen our support for school kitchen infrastructure, training and support for classified employees, meals sourced from California farms, and much more.
Second, while we can be proud that California’s public school children are spared hunger during the school year, hunger during summer break remains a great threat to student wellbeing and learning. No program has proved more successful at reducing summer hunger among children than Summer EBT. That is why we are hopeful that Congress can make this program permanent to significantly reduce the hardship and indignity of hunger for children in these hard-to-serve months.
You have a unique opportunity to deliver a triple win with the significant investment that Community Eligibility and Summer EBT will bring to California benefitting our children, our schools, and our farmers.
We urge you to prioritize improvements to school meals CEP and to establish a permanent Summer EBT in any legislative package passed this Congress.
Chair, Budget and Fiscal Committee Chair, Legislative Women’s Caucus California State Senate