BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     AB 292

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          Date of Hearing:  March 25, 2015

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

                                  O'Donnell, Chair

                      292 (Santiago) - As Amended  March 18, 2015

          SUBJECT:  Pupil nutrition:  free or reduced-price meals:   
          adequate time to eat

          SUMMARY:  Requires school districts to ensure that there is adequate  
          time to eat lunch after the meal is served to students.  
          Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Declares that the California Department of Education (CDE)  
            specifies adequate time to eat school lunch as 20 minutes  
            after being served.

          2)Specifies that upon annual review of the bell schedule, if a  
            school determines that it is currently not providing pupils  
            with adequate time to eat, the school, in consultation with  
            the district, shall identify ways to increase pupils' time to  

          3)Authorizes the appropriate school food authority, to the  
            extent that funds are available, to use federally or  
            state-regulated nonprofit school food service cafeteria  
            accounts to defray any costs allowable under the federal  
            National School Lunch Program in accordance with that funding  
            source before considering other funding streams. 


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          EXISTING LAW requires, notwithstanding any other provision of  
          law, each school district or county superintendent of schools  
          maintaining any kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12,  
          inclusive, to provide for each needy pupil one nutritionally  
          adequate free or reduced-price meal during each schoolday,  
          except for family day care homes that shall be reimbursed for 75  
          percent of the meals served.

          FISCAL EFFECT:   According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, from a substantially similar bill, school district /  
          county office of education (COE) enforcement: Potentially  
          significant reimbursable mandate on school districts and COEs to  
          "ensure that each of the schools in their respective  
          jurisdictions provides their pupils adequate time to eat after  
          being served, as specified.

          COMMENTS:   The National School Lunch Program is a federally  
          assisted meal program operating in over 100,000 public and  
          nonprofit private schools and residential child care  
          institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, lowcost or  
          free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in  
          2012.  In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch  
          Program to include reimbursement for snacks served to children  
          in afterschool educational and enrichment programs to include  
          children through 18 years of age.  The Food and Nutrition  
          Service administers the program at the federal level. At the  
          State level, the National School Lunch Program is usually  
          administered by state education agencies, which operate the  
          program through agreements with school food authorities.  In  
          California, the California Department of Education (CDE)  
          administers the program.  

          According to the author, "Lunch periods provide a much-needed  
          time for students to take a break and refuel their bodies. For  
          many low-income students, school lunch may be the most  
          nutritious meal of the day.  Unfortunately, California students  
          frequently miss out on the full benefits of school lunch because  
          they don't have enough time to eat. Time pressures at lunch can  
          result in food waste and poor nutrition. The CDE recommends that  
          students have 20 minutes to eat after receiving their lunches,  


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          but many schools are not meeting that recommendation. A 2013 CDE  
          survey of over 1,000 school principals found that only 24.9% of  
          elementary schools and 8.2% of middle/high schools had policies  
          at the site or district level specifying an amount of time that  
          students have to eat. When asked to estimate the amount of time  
          the last student in line has to eat during the lunch period,  
          only 28.1% of elementary principals and 44.8% of middle/high  
          school principals reported that they were provided at least 20  
          minutes to eat."

          Further the author states, "In 1990, Los Angeles Unified School  
          District (LAUSD) established guidelines to ensure that the last  
          child in the lunch line be given no less than 20 minutes to eat  
          lunch at school after being served.  However, in 2012, LAUSD's  
          board found that only 49% of elementary and 29% of high schools  
          in LAUSD gave pupils the required time to eat, and since has  
          developed a subsequent resolution to address this." 

          What is adequate time to eat?  The CDE, in the 2006 report  
          "School Nutrition?by Design," specifies that one strategy for  
          increasing student participation in school lunch is, "scheduling  
          sufficient time to enable students to eat after being served-no  
          less than 10 minutes for breakfast and no less than 20 minutes  
          for lunch." This bill states that the CDE specifies adequate  
          time to eat after being served to be 20 minutes.  Adding this  
          element in statute will allow CDE to define adequate time in  
          regulations and to develop different options for schools to  
          consider as they work to ensure every student has time to eat  
          lunch.  Currently, the following states have policies in place  
          that require all schools to provide students with adequate time  
          to eat:  Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia,  
          Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, West  

          Scheduling:  If a school does not currently provide adequate  
          time to eat, the school, in consultation with the district, will  
          be required to identify ways to increase the time available to  
          eat. A range of solutions could be implemented to increase the  
          time available to eat. Some solutions include increasing the  


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          length of the school day, increasing the number of tables  
          available, increasing the number of lunch periods, and  
          increasing the number of lunch lines. While the bill requires a  
          school to identify ways to increase time to eat, it is unclear  
          whether it requires a school to implement those changes. 

          Unintended Consequences: There could be some potential  
          unintended consequences in implementing this bill. If the school  
          determines that the school day must be lengthened to accommodate  
          a longer lunch period, what are the collective bargaining  
          implications?  This bill creates a mandate; would the cost of  
          lengthening the school day be reimbursable?  If a school  
          provides 20 minutes to eat, but some children only require 10  
          minutes to eat, will they be required to sit at the lunch table  
          for the entire 20 minutes when it may not be practical to  
          require children to sit the extra time? The committee should  
          consider how this bill will be implemented and the unintended  

          Charter Schools:  While charter schools are not required to  
          provide school meals, some choose to provide school lunch.  The  
          committee may wish to consider whether to include charter  
          schools, which currently choose to provide school lunch, in this  

          Previous Legislation: AB 2449 (Bocanegra) from 2014, was  
          substantially similar to this bill and would have required  
          school districts and county offices of education (COEs) to  
          ensure that each of their schools provide students adequate time  
          to eat after being served a meal.

          Committee Amendments: Staff recommends the bill be amended as  
          1)Clarify that the requirement to provide adequate time to eat  
            only applies to lunch. 
          2)Specify that schools shall make available to their pupils  
            adequate time to eat.
          3)Specify that if a school determines it is currently not  


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            providing pupils with adequate time to eat, a school, in  
            consultation with the district, shall identify and develop a  
            plan to increase pupils' time to eat.

          Recess: In a letter received by a 5th grade class, students  
          expressed concerns about the potential for this bill to cause a  
          reduction in the length of recess and how that would impact  
          student health. The committee may wish to consider how  
          elementary schools may implement this bill as it relates to the  
          length of recess, compared to the different implementation  
          issues faced in secondary schools. 

          Arguments in Support:  The California Food Policy Advocates  
          sponsors AB 292 and states, "AB 292 would bring California up to  
          speed with the nine other states and the District of Columbia  
          that have policies in place requiring adequate time to eat lunch  
          at school.  California currently has no state statute that  
          guarantees an adequate meal break for students; however, state  
          labor law ensures a minimum 30-minute, uninterrupted meal break  
          for employees. California should ensure that its hard-working  
          students are given the time they need to eat during the school  



          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees  
          California Association of Food Banks
          California Black Health Network
          California Catholic Conference of Bishops
          California Center for Public Health Advocacy
          California Dietetic Association
          California Food Policy Advocates (Sponsor)
          Center for Ecoliteracy
          Children Now
          Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, Inc.


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          Feeding America San Diego
          Hunger Action Los Angeles
          Locally Delicious
          Long Beach Alliance for Food and Fitness
          River City Food Bank
          San Diego Hunger Coalition
          SF-Marin Food Bank
          Two Individuals


          None on file.

          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Chelsea Kelley/ED./(916) 319-2087