Today's Law As Amended


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SB-364 Pupil meals: Free School Meals For All Act of 2021.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 (a) This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Free School Meals For All Act of 2021.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) No child in California should experience hunger, and every public school pupil should benefit from access to a healthy, locally procured and freshly prepared meal during the schoolday.
(2) Free and reduced-price meals are a lifeline for schoolchildren under normal conditions and grab-and-go meal programs have served schoolchildren and their siblings throughout the pandemic, but too many children are locked out of the program due to burdensome application processes that add red tape for program administrators, and when school campuses are closed due to regularly scheduled school breaks or disaster, children are unable to secure these meals.
(3) During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture eased program restrictions to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children universally, and these flexibilities will remain in effect throughout the entire 2020–21 school year.
(4) The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program established by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127) served over 3,700,000 children with a total of one billion four hundred million dollars ($1,400,000,000) in federal food benefits to replace lost school meals during the spring and federal funds have been reauthorized to extend until September 2021.
(5) Now that there exist strategies to prevent hunger for all schoolchildren during the schoolday and a proven method of school meal replacement during a prolonged period of school closure, it is imperative that we embrace these strategies toward the goal of ending child hunger once and for all.

SEC. 2.

 Section 42238.01 of the Education Code is amended to read:

42238.01.
 For purposes of Section 42238.02, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “Eligible for free or reduced-price meals” means determined to meet federal income eligibility criteria, either through completing an application for the federal National School Lunch Program or through an alternative household income data collection form, or deemed to be categorically eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program, as described in Part 245 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(1) (A) A school participating in a special assistance alternative authorized by Section 11(a)(1) of the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (Public Law 113-79), including Provision 2, Provision 3, or the Community Eligibility Provision, may establish a base year for purposes of the local control funding formula by doing either of the following:
 (i) Determining the pupils at the school who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and using each pupil’s eligibility status in that base year to report eligibility for up to each of the following three school years.
(ii) Carrying forward eligibility for pupils  over the number of pupils at the school who were  eligible for free or reduced-price meals from the school year in which the school applied to use a federal universal school meal provision, and using each pupil’s eligibility status from in  the application base  year to report eligibility for up to each of the following three school years.
(B) The school may include between base year eligibility determinations, any newly enrolled pupils who are determined to be eligible for free or reduced-price meals or any current pupils found to be newly eligible for free or reduced-price meals as identified through a local or state direct certification match or another categorical designation.
(2) A school that uses the special assistance alternative shall maintain information on each pupil’s eligibility status and annually submit information on that status in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 42238.02 or subparagraph (A) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 2574, as applicable.
(3) For a pupil who transfers to a school using a special assistance alternative and who is transferring between schools within the same school district, documentation supporting eligibility for that pupil for purposes of the local control funding formula may be transferred from the pupil’s old school to the pupil’s new school, as long as the documentation supporting eligibility for that pupil is less than four years old and is updated at least once every four years.
(4) To the extent permitted by federal law, a school may choose to establish a new base year for purposes of the federal National School Lunch Program at the same time the school establishes a new base year for purposes of the local control funding formula. A school may use federal National School Lunch Program application forms to collect household income data as permitted under the federal National School Lunch Program. If the use of federal National School Lunch Program application forms is not permitted, a school shall use alternative household income data collection forms.
(5) An alternative household income data collection form shall be confidential and shall not be shared by the school other than as necessary for purposes of determining funding allocations under the local control funding formula and for assessing the accountability of that funding. An alternative household income data collection form shall contain, at a minimum, all of the following information:
(A) Information sufficient to identify the pupil or pupils.
(B) Information sufficient to determine that the pupil or household meets federal income eligibility criteria sufficient to qualify for either a free or reduced-priced meal under the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (Public Law 113-79).
(C) Certification that the information is true and correct by the pupil’s adult household member.
(6) Paragraphs (1) and (3) are effective commencing with the 2014–15 fiscal year.
(b) “Foster youth” means any of the following:
(1) A child who is the subject of a petition filed pursuant to Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, whether or not the child has been removed from their home by the juvenile court pursuant to Section 319 or 361 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(2) A child who is the subject of a petition filed pursuant to Section 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, has been removed from their home by the juvenile court pursuant to Section 727 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and is in foster care as defined by subdivision (d) of Section 727.4 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(3) A nonminor under the transition jurisdiction of the juvenile court, as described in Section 450 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, who satisfies all of the following criteria:
(A) The nonminor has attained 18 years of age while under an order of foster care placement by the juvenile court, and is not more than 19 years of age on or after January 1, 2012, not more than 20 years of age on or after January 1, 2013, and not more than 21 years of age, on or after January 1, 2014, and as described in Section 10103.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(B) The nonminor is in foster care under the placement and care responsibility of the county welfare department, county probation department, Indian tribe, consortium of tribes, or tribal organization that entered into an agreement pursuant to Section 10553.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(C) The nonminor is participating in a transitional independent living case plan pursuant to Section 475(8) of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 675), as contained in the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351), as described in Section 11403 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(4) (A) A dependent child of the court of an Indian tribe, consortium of tribes, or tribal organization who is the subject of a petition filed in the tribal court pursuant to the tribal court’s jurisdiction in accordance with the tribe’s law, provided that the child would also meet one of the descriptions in Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code describing when a child may be adjudged a dependent child of the juvenile court.
(B) This paragraph is effective no later than the 2020–21 fiscal year.
(c) “Pupils of limited English proficiency” means pupils who do not have the clearly developed English language skills of comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing necessary to receive instruction only in English at a level substantially equivalent to pupils of the same age or grade whose primary language is English. “English learner” shall have the same meaning as provided for in subdivision (a) of Section 306 and as “pupils of limited English proficiency.”

SEC. 3.

 Section 49501.5 is added to the Education Code, to read:

49501.5.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, commencing with the 2022–23 school year all of the following shall apply:
(1) A school district or county superintendent of schools maintaining kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, shall provide two school meals free of charge during each schoolday to any pupil who requests a meal without consideration of the pupil’s eligibility for a federally funded free or reduced-price meal, with a maximum of one free meal for each meal service period. The meals provided under this paragraph shall be nutritiously adequate meals that qualify for federal reimbursement.
(2) A charter school shall provide two school meals free of charge during each schoolday to any pupil who requests a meal without consideration of the pupil’s eligibility for a federally funded free or reduced-price meal, with a maximum of one free meal for each meal service period. The meals provided under this paragraph shall be nutritiously adequate meals that qualify for federal reimbursement.
(3) (A) A local educational agency that has a reimbursable school breakfast program shall not charge a pupil or a member of a pupil’s family any amount for any meal served to a pupil through the program, and shall provide a meal free of charge to any pupil who requests one without consideration of the pupil’s eligibility for a federally funded free or reduced-price meal. The meals provided free of charge pursuant to this paragraph shall be nutritiously adequate, and shall count toward the total of two school meals required to be provided each schoolday under paragraphs (1) and (2).
(B) As used in this paragraph, “school breakfast program” means the nonprofit breakfast program established by Section 4 of the federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1771 et seq.).
(4) The department shall reimburse local educational agencies for all nonreimbursed expenses accrued in providing United States Department of Agriculture reimbursable meals to pupils as described in subdivision (b).
(b) The amount of reimbursements provided under this section shall not exceed the difference between the following amounts:
(1) The reimbursement rate established by Section 49559 for the reimbursable meals provided by the school.
(2) Any amounts otherwise reimbursed or paid by state, federal, or other sources.
(c) In addition to the reimbursement provided pursuant to subdivision (b), a local educational agency shall receive an additional supplement of ___ percent of the reimbursement provided pursuant to this section in order to meet the additional nutritional needs of pupils residing in deeply impoverished communities.
(d) The reimbursement required pursuant to this section shall be provided upon appropriation by the Legislature. This section shall not be operative until the Legislature has appropriated funds for purposes of this section.
(e) The department shall develop and adopt regulations as it deems necessary to implement this article, including regulations that authorize local educational agencies that administer a school lunch program under the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (Public Law 113-79) to release to appropriate officials administering the CalFresh and Medi-Cal programs information that is necessary to implement the purposes of this article, while protecting the privacy of pupils and their families.

SEC. 4.

 Section 49501.6 is added to the Education Code, to read:

49501.6.
 (a) The department shall administer a noncompetitive grant to local educational agencies to cover costs incurred by those agencies in purchasing food produced or grown in California, as provided by this section.
(b) The amount of a grant awarded as provided by this section shall be determined by the department, based on twenty-five cents ($0.25) multiplied by the number of lunches and breakfasts served by the local educational agency during the previous school year under the United States Department of Agriculture’s child nutrition programs.
(c) For purposes of this funding formula, a local educational agency may choose to substitute the most recent school year when the majority of pupils were able to attend full time and in person.
(d) A local educational agency that receives a grant under this section shall use the moneys for the costs incurred by the local educational agency to purchase food products that meet all of the following criteria:
(1) Purchased on or after the date the local educational agency received notification from the department of the amount to be distributed to the school district as provided by this section.
(2) Grown or produced in California.
(3) Whole or minimally processed.
(4) Used for meals that are served as part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s child nutrition programs.
(e) A local educational agency shall not use any moneys received under this section to purchase California produced fluid milk, including fluid milk substitutes. While fluid milk and fluid milk substitutes will not be reimbursed, minimally processed, California-produced and manufactured dairy products like yogurt are allowable expenses.
(f) A local educational agency shall not use any moneys received under this section to purchase California-produced bread. However, California-produced flour and California-grown wheat and other grains are allowable expenses.
(g) Local educational agencies are encouraged to maximize their purchases of food from California farmers, and expand the number of freshly prepared school meals that use California-grown ingredients. The Department of Food and Agriculture shall provide guidance to this effect.

SEC. 5.

 Section 49502 is added to the Education Code, to read:

49502.
 (a) The department shall provide information every year to school districts and county superintendents of schools concerning the benefits of, and financial assistance for, serving public school pupils freshly prepared food purchased from California, to encourage the preparation of fresh meals. The department shall prioritize schools that are eligible for the Community Eligibility Provision.
(b) (1) The department shall award grants of up to thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) per schoolsite every year on a competitive basis to school districts, county superintendents of schools, or entities approved by the department for nonrecurring expenses incurred, in order to increase the number of meals that can be prepared freshly and served to pupils. The number of grants available shall be limited by the amount appropriated for this purpose in the annual Budget Act.
(2) Grant funds awarded pursuant to this subdivision shall be used for nonrecurring costs of initiating or increasing the preparation of freshly prepared food as part of a school breakfast program or a school lunch program, including, but not limited to, the acquisition of equipment, training of staff in new capacities, minor alterations to accommodate new equipment, a new computer point-of-service system necessary to implement universally free school meals, and the purchase of vehicles for transporting food to schools. Grant funds shall not be used for salaries and benefits of staff, food, computers, except computer point-of-service systems, or capital outlay.
(3) In awarding grants pursuant to this subdivision, the department shall give a preference to school districts and county superintendents of schools that do all of the following:
(A) Submit to the department a plan to initiate or increase fresh meal preparation in the school district or county, including a description of all of the following:
(i) The manner in which the school district or county superintendent of schools will provide technical assistance and funding to schoolsites to initiate or increase fresh meal preparation.
(ii) Detailed information on the nonrecurring expenses needed to initiate or increase fresh meal preparation.
(iii) Public or private resources that have been assembled for the purpose of initiating or increasing fresh meal preparation during that year.
(B) Agree to increase and then sustain the preparation of fresh food for school meal programs for a period of not less than three years.
(C) Assure that the expenditure of funds from state and local resources for the purpose of initiating or increasing fresh meal preparation in school meal programs will not be diminished as a result of grant awards received pursuant to this subdivision.

SEC. 6.

 Section 49557 of the Education Code is amended to read:

49557.
 (a) (1) The governing board of a school district and the county superintendent of schools shall make paper applications for free or reduced-price meals available to pupils at all times during each regular schoolday, and may also make an application electronically available online, provided that the online application complies with paragraph (3). has been certified by the department to comply with paragraph (2).  Pursuant to federal and state guidelines, the application shall contain clear instructions for families that are homeless or are migrants, and shall also contain, in at least 8-point boldface type, each of the following statements:
(A) Applications for free and reduced-price meals may be submitted at any time during a schoolday. schoolday, and shall be processed within 30 days of submission. 
(B) Children participating in the federal National School Lunch Program will not be overtly identified by the use of special tokens, special tickets, special serving lines, separate entrances, separate dining areas, or by any other means.
(2) A school district and the county superintendent of schools shall use all other paper applications it has for free or reduced-price meals before utilizing the applications pursuant to this subdivision.
(3) (2)  If a governing board of a school district, a county office of education, or a school food authority chooses to provide access to an online application for free or reduced-price meals pursuant to paragraph (1), the online application shall comply with all of the following requirements:
(A) Include a link to the Internet Web site  internet website  on which translated applications are posted by the United States Department of Agriculture, with instructions in that language that inform the applicant how to submit the application. The Legislature finds and declares that federal guidelines require school food authorities to accept and process these applications if they are submitted to the school food authority.
(B) Require completion of only those questions that are necessary for determining eligibility.
(C) Include clear instructions for families that are homeless or are migrants.
(D) Comply with the privacy rights and disclosure protections established by the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (Public Law 113-79) and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-277).
(E) Include links to all of the following:
(i) The online application to CalFresh.
(ii) The online single state application for health care.
(iii) The Internet Web internet web  page maintained by the State Department of Public Health entitled “About WIC and How to Apply,” or another Internet Web internet web  page identified by the State Department of Public Health that connects families to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
(iv) The Internet Web site  internet website  of a summer lunch program authorized to participate within the city or school district.
(F) No An  online application for free or reduced-price meals shall be made available online or made  made  accessible online by a school district, a county office of education, or  a school food authority if the online application allows for the  authority, or a private third-party vendor shall not allow the  information provided by an applicant to be sold, shared, or  used by a private entity for any purpose not related to the administration of a school food program, or if the online application requires  require  an applicant to waive any right or to create a user account in order to submit the application.
(b) The governing board of each school district and each county superintendent of schools shall formulate a plan, which shall be mailed to the State Department of Education for its approval, that will ensure that children eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals and milk shall not be treated differently from other children. These plans shall ensure each of the following:
(1) Unless otherwise specified, the names of the children shall not be published, posted, or announced in any manner, or used for any purpose other than the federal National School Lunch Program.
(2) There shall be no overt identification of any of the children by the use of special tokens or tickets or by any other means.
(3) The children shall not be required to work for their meals or milk.
(4) The children shall not be required to use a separate dining area, go through a separate serving line, enter the dining area through a separate entrance, or consume their meals or milk at a different time.
(5) Compliance with Section 49557.5.
(c) When more than one lunch or breakfast or type of milk is offered pursuant to this article, the children shall have the same choice of meals or milk that is available to those children who pay the full price for their meal or milk.
(d) A private third-party vendor who violates subparagraph (F) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) or any other provision of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a first violation and ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for any subsequent violation.
(e) This section shall not prevent the use of information provided by a school meal applicant from being used by a governmental entity to increase access to a government-administered anti-hunger program.

SEC. 7.

 Section 10618.7 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

10618.7.
 The department shall seek all available funding for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program established under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-127), as amended by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (Public Law 116-159).

SEC. 8.

 Chapter 10.2 (commencing with Section 18936) is added to Part 6 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

CHAPTER  10.2. Better Out of School Time (BOOST) Nutrition EBT Program
18936.
 (a) The Better Out of School Time (BOOST) Nutrition EBT Program is hereby established to prevent child hunger during regularly scheduled school breaks or any school campus closure caused by a condition for which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the Governor that lasts five or more schooldays.
(b) A pupil is eligible for benefits under the BOOST Nutrition EBT Program if they are enrolled in a public school that participates in the National School Lunch Program and they meet one of the following criteria:
(1) They receive benefits under the Medi-Cal program (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) of Part 3).
(2) They receive benefits under the CalFresh program (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 18900) of Part 6).
(3) They are a homeless youth, as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11434a).
(4) They are in foster care.
(5) They have applied for BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits pursuant to this chapter, and it has been determined that their family income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
(c) The State Department of Social Services shall issue BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits to eligible pupils, in the amount described in subdivision (f), for each day during which a school campus is closed due to either of the following circumstances:
(1) A regularly scheduled school break that lasts five or more schooldays.
(2) A closure of a school campus as a result of a condition for which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the Governor that lasts five or more schooldays.
(d) When applicable, the department shall issue BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits to eligible pupils no later than seven business days prior to regularly scheduled breaks.
(e) (1) On or before March 1, 2022, the department shall submit a report to the Legislature describing how the department can ensure timely BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits issuance to pupils during a school campus closure caused by a condition for which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the Governor, and the cost of issuing these benefits timely.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(f) The department shall set the amount of the daily BOOST Nutrition EBT benefit at the beginning of each school year in an amount that equals the reimbursement rate of a free breakfast under the federal School Breakfast Program under Section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1773) and a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1751 et seq.).
(g) (1) Notwithstanding subdivisions (b) and (c), the department shall also issue BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits to any child or pupil who was eligible to receive benefits under the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program established under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-127), as amended by the federal Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (Public Law 116-159), and the state plan approved by the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, as of July 1, 2021, for the five-month period following the end of the P-EBT program.
(2) For the issuance of BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits pursuant to this subdivision, the department shall use the same eligibility, issuance, and other procedures as used under the P-EBT program.
(h) (1) The department shall annually report to the Legislature on outcomes of the BOOST Nutrition EBT Program, including, but not limited to, both of the following:
(A) In each county, the number and percent of pupils receiving benefits, and the total benefits issued.
(B) Opportunities to improve program participation and program performance.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(i) BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits issued pursuant to this chapter are not subject to review under Section 10950.
(j) To the extent permitted by federal law, BOOST Nutrition EBT benefits issued pursuant to this chapter shall not be considered as income or resources in determining other public benefits.
SEC. 9.
 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.