Yesterday, SB 1481 (Becker) passed out of the Assembly Education Committee on consent, with a unanimous, 7 -0 vote. The bill now moves on to Assembly Appropriations.
Nourish California and our bill co-sponsors the CACFP Roundtable thank the Chair and members of the Education Committee for their support, and we applaud Senator Becker’s leadership to ensure our youngest learners have the nutrition they need to learn, grow, and thrive. We are also grateful to all who advocated in support. Thanks to your efforts, we are one step closer to free meals for all kids in child care, and fair pay for child care providers.
The bill now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Stay tuned in the coming days for timely calls to action to make your voice heard in support of Food with Care. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to receive email updates at our Action Center.
California recently became the first state in the nation to expand free meals to all K-12 students. It’s time to make a similar investment in our youngest learners.
Federal rules for child care meal programs don’t reflect California’s true level of poverty—keeping many children from accessing nutritious, affordable meals. For example, a family of four must make less than $34,060 a year in order for a child care center to serve a free meal.
Child care providers take the hit financially for federal rules that don’t take into account California’s high cost of living. Each year, providers absorb tens of millions of dollars in costs for meals served to children who don’t qualify for free meals, but who need them all the same.
The harm to children and the burden on providers is exacerbated by state policies that financially penalize child care providers for feeding younger children. Existing statute creates a pay penalty that limits providers to only 75% of the state reimbursement for meals served. The pay penalty is the result of a racist legacy of child care laws—still in place today— that undercompensate labor historically performed by Black, Latina, and immigrant women.
With adequate funding and support, the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, has the power to fill the gap in equitable access to healthy meals in child care while supporting the financial stability of the workforce.