One day after the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 490, a bill requiring California K-12 schools, community colleges and California State Universities to purchase mostly U.S.-grown food for school-provided meals, Los Angeles Unified superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the California School Boards Association and others are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto it.
In a statement Wednesday, the CSBA and others called the bill “well-intentioned, but harmful,” since it prohibits schools from purchasing agricultural products grown, packed or processed out of the country, with some exceptions. Opponents fear that the proposed requirements would lead to “an explosion in costs just as school nutrition programs begin expanding free meal access,” according to the statement.
The 2022-23 school year will be the first that California, along with a few other states, is promising to provide every child with free breakfast and lunch.
Along with other provisions, SB 490 would only allow schools to purchase nondomestic agricultural products if the bid or price of those products is more than 25% lower than the equivalent domestic product. Opponents say this would “render schools vulnerable to price gouging from vendors who could simply increase their prices to just under the 25% threshold,” according to the statement.