‘Fresh Start’ program gets a fresh start–and more money

The goal of California’s “Fresh Start” pilot program was to make sure that
K-12 school kids get nutritious fruits and vegetables at breakfast–an idea
that most members of the Legislature embraced. Urgency legislation was
easily approved last September, $18.2 million was set aside to get the
program up and running and school districts were lining up to get the money.

Then everything came to a standstill.

As an urgency bill, SB281 by Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, was
supposed to take effect immediately after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed
it into law. But nothing happened because the regulations required to put
Maldonado’s bill never got drafted and approved, partly because of a
bureaucratic snafu. Without regulations, and barring some fast-track
intervention, “Fresh Start” is stalled–at least for the current school year.

The program affects up to a million children, many of them low-income
youngsters and the children of recent immigrants, currently served by the
School Breakfast Program.

“The last time I read a dictionary, the word ‘urgency’ meant immediately,”
Maldonado said. “I understand that things happen, but they need to move on
this as quickly as possible

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