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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

Senator Josh Becker Introduces Statewide Bill to Provide Free Meals to Children in Child Care

Senator Josh Becker Introduces Statewide Bill to Provide Free Meals to Children in Child Care and Eliminate Child Care Pay Penalty

California, UNITED STATES, February 28, 2022

Last week, Senator Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), along with 13 co-authors, introduced Senate Bill 1481, Food with Care, to establish a free daily meal program for children in child care centers and home-based child care. “California’s youngest children cannot be left out of our state’s groundbreaking meals policy to tackle food insecurity among learners,” said Senator Becker. “SB 1481 would ensure that all families can send their kids to child care centers offering free, nutritious meals. The Food with Care bill also would remove the financial burden on child care providers who currently aren’t fully reimbursed for providing meals to children.”

Recent research revealed that 1 in 3 child care workers reports running out of money and trying to make their food budgets go further. Advocates say the Food with Care bill is especially critical in response to increased experiences of hunger and food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic. “The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of and widened the gaps in our child care system, while simultaneously exacerbating food insecurity among child care workers and households with young children. Child care has had to scramble to feed even hungrier kids, all while struggling with increasing food costs, limited supplies, inconsistent enrollment, and inadequate support from the state,” said Elyse Homel Vitale, executive director for CACFP Roundtable.

Georgia Stalions of Santa Clara is a family child care provider of almost 27 years. “I have noticed a significant difference [over time] in the quality and variety of food I am able to provide,” said Stalions. “Food with Care would greatly help me to serve high quality food, focusing on organic foods including fresh fruit and vegetables and organic whole grains, as well as adding more protein at breakfasts.”

Genevieve Pyeatt associated with Catalyst Family Inc., which has over 160 child care centers throughout California, shared that “[SB 1481] will directly impact the quality, quantity, and nutritional value of the meals we provide the children in our centers. Young children deserve equity in the quality and quantity of meals they receive when in child care to increase their health and well being to grow and learn.”

SB 1481 would also eliminate the law that penalizes child care workers for serving meals by providing less reimbursement than that provided to K-12 schools, which advocates say is rooted in a racist legacy of law-making. “We are proud to join Senator Becker in calling for an end to a long-standing, biased state law that discounts the nutritional needs of California's youngest children and undervalues child care providers. SB 1481 invests in a more equitable child care system by ensuring free meals for kids in child care and fair payments to providers,” says Kameron Mims-Jones, Policy Advocate at Nourish California.

Last year, the state of California approved a similar policy that makes school meals free for all students in the K-12 school system. SB 1481 proposes leveraging the existing resources and

infrastructure of a federal child nutrition program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), as a vehicle to increase access to meals for California's youngest learners.

“SB 1481 follows two years of unprecedented hardship on children, families and those who care for them. Now is the right time for California to lead the way and ensure free meals for children in child care,” said Samantha Marshall, Director of Programs and Policy at CACFP Roundtable.”

“Every child in California deserves to be well nourished and thrive. Every child care provider deserves fair access to state resources,” says Jared Call, Senior Advocate at Nourish California.

SB 1481 is co-sponsored by Nourish California and CACFP Roundtable. SB 1481 is expected to be heard in a Senate Policy Committee this spring.


CACFP Roundtable is a California-based nonprofit organization that works to foster a community of leaders who work together to build equitable access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program and nutritious meals in care settings.

Nourish California is a nonpartisan, statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to shape the programs and policies that should connect—but sometimes stand between—people and the food they need to thrive.

The co-sponsors’ fact sheet on SB 1481, Food with Care is available at

For a PDF of the release, click here.

Media Contacts:

CACFP Roundtable

Samantha Marshall, Director of Programs and Policy

Contact information:

Nourish California

Jared Call, Senior Advocate

Contact information:

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