Gov. Signs Free School Meal Bill

Authored by Assemblyman John Laird, the bill automatically
enrolls children
Gilroy – Every 20 days, children attending public schools in Gilroy must fill out paperwork to receive free or reduced cost school meals. Some students forget their case numbers. Others don’t know what they need to include on the forms, leaving some students without a meal at school.

But a new bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday will remove students from the equation.

The Food for Schoolchildren Act, authored by Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), automatically enrolls children whose families receive foodstamp assistance into free school meal programs, rather than be forced to fill out additional paperwork.

Jody Canali-Ornellas who serves as Campus Cuisine Supervisor for Gilroy High School is supportive of the measure.

“Now we don’t have to bother the kids. There’s no break in the chain,” she said. “It’s continuous. The kids don’t have to fill out any paperwork.”

The bill requires the Department of Education to establish a computerized enrollment system using information from the Department of Social Services.

More than 50,000 children are estimated to be affected.

“With the Governor’s signature, tens of thousands of California school kids get automated access to needed school meal programs,” Assemblymember Laird said in a release. “In an era of significant school underfunding, it’s a considerable win that we’ve found a way to connect kids with the food they need while also bringing efficiency to the enrollment system.”