Los Angeles

In the News… “Fresh Start” in Jeopardy?

An article by Carol Ness in today’s San Francisco Chronicle spotlights the budget cuts in Sacramento that will affect children in public schools across California:

For just 10 cents a day per child, California public school kids are getting to eat fresh apples, oranges and strawberries along with their Pop-Tarts and doughnuts at school breakfast.

At least, that’s been true for the last two years under the pilot Fresh Start program, designed to steer kids away from obesity and diabetes and toward healthy foods.

But Fresh Start is in jeopardy just as preliminary reports are showing its initial success. In an effort to cover a $366 million funding gap in the education part of the state budget, the Legislature recently cut the $11.1 million that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to keep Fresh Start going in the next school year and make it permanent.
. . .
“On the one hand, legislators are talking about the obesity crisis … and then they’re taking fruit and vegetable money away,” said Ann Cooper, head of Berkeley’s school lunch program.

California would spend around $145 billion in 2007-08 under the proposed budget being shaped into final form in legislative conference committee now, and Cooper pointed out that the $9 billion tab for prisons is more than the entire nation spends on school meals.

“It’s not that we don’t have enough money, it’s that we are not making the health of our children our priority,” she said.

Read the full article on the SFGate website.