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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 4/11/2012
Budget Issue: Nutrition subsidies for children not attending public K-12 schools
Program: Child Nutrition
Finding or Recommendation: Limit state funding for meal subsidies to students attending public K-12 schools. Adopt Governor's proposal to save $10.4 million non-Proposition 98, and also apply to school district-run child care programs to save an additional $2.5 million Proposition 98.
Further Detail

Each year, California receives about $200 million in federal funds to provide breakfast and/or lunch to about 312,000 children who do not attend public school districts. The majority of this federal funding goes to child care centers run by public or private parties (other than school districts) and family daycare homes (FDHs), but other types of entities, including private schools and juvenile halls, also receive this funding. The federal per-meal subsidy is $2.79 for lunches and $1.80 for breakfasts. In 2011-12, the state budgeted $10.4 million in non-Proposition 98 General Fund to supplement these federal nutrition subsidies. (The state spends an additional $2.5 million in Proposition 98 funds to subsidize meals in child care programs sponsored by school districts.) The state subsidy provides an additional $0.16 per meal.

Governor Proposes to Eliminate State Funding. The Governor proposes to eliminate the state subsidy for meals in non-school district settings, saving $10.4 million non-Proposition 98 General Fund in 2012-13. The Governor’s proposal  represents a five percent reduction in the total subsidy for these meals. (The overall reduction is relatively small because federal funding, which supports the majority of the program, would remain unaffected.)

Recommend Adopting Consistent Policy—Limiting State Meal Subsidies to Students Attending K-12 Public Schools (Additional $2.5 Million Savings).We recommend the Legislature limit state funding for meal subsidies to students attending public K-12 schools. Specifically, we recommend adopting the Governor’s proposal to save $10.4 million in non-Proposition 98 funds by eliminating state meal funding for programs run by other entities. (We recommend that the small share of these funds supporting meals for K-12 students attending juvenile halls instead be funded as part of the Proposition 98 school nutrition program.) To maintain consistency across programs and prioritize limited state resources, we also recommend eliminating state meal subsidies for child care centers and FDHs funded through school districts. This would save an additional $2.5 million in Proposition 98 funds, which could be redirected to offset proposed reductions to the state preschool program or to other K-12 priorities. All entities would continue to be eligible to receive federal support, which provides the bulk of funding for the meal program.