Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a bill (AB 1594), by Assembly member Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), that would have required charter schools to provide low-income students with no-cost or reduced-price meals, California Watch reports.
In his veto message, Brown said that he did not sign the bill because he did not want to "erode the independence and flexibility" of charter schools.
Charter schools -- which enrolled more than 412,000 California students last year -- are exempt from a state law requiring public schools to provide low-income students with a daily meal that meets federal nutrition standards.
Although some charter schools in the state participate in federal breakfast or lunch programs, many do not.
Comments on Veto
Supporters of the bill argued that healthful, affordable meals are an integral part of students' health and academic performance.
Alexis Fernandez -- a nutrition policy advocate at California Food Policy Advocates, which sponsored the bill -- said, "Access to these meals is a pretty basic, essential resource that all students should be able to receive," adding, "We never saw it as tied into the politics of charter schools or their educational autonomy."
Eng said, "I respect the governor's concern that charter schools thrive, but I believe that it's not necessary to choose between meals for children and good policies for charter schools. We can do both."
Jed Wallace -- president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association -- said that the group supports Brown's effort to keep "the spirit of the Chart Schools Act intact." Wallace added that a lack of resources would have made it difficult for schools to adhere to AB 1594.
He said, "In general, charter schools continue to face significant barriers in regards to providing food programs as stated in AB 1594, including adequate funding, as well as lack of equitable facilities and equipment" (Lin, California Watch, 10/3).