Bill would bring meals to needy charter school students

Calif. bill under review would require similar meal standards as public schools.

March 29—Charter schools in Calif. could soon be subject to the same free and reduced-price meal mandate as public schools if a new state bill gets its way. The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Alhambra, "levels the playing field so children, whether in public or charter school, will have the same advantages that will lead to classroom performance, higher test scores and lower obesity rates,” Eng says in an article from California Watch. The bill is being debated by the state Assembly Education Committee.

Charter schools are exempt from many state meal requirements, including the state law that says public schools “need to provide each needy pupil one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each schoolday.”

According to a 2010 state audit, about 18% of classroom-based California charter schools don’t offer low-income students breakfast or lunch, though needy children attend charter schools at about the same rate as traditional public schools. The audit also reported that 39 charter schools spanning the state, from Ukiah to Bakersfield and San Diego, did not serve any meals at all.