AB 558, the Child Nutrition Act of 2022, Passes Senate Education Committee!

Nickolaus Sackett, Director at Social Compassion in Legislation, and Anna Herby, Nutrition Education Program Manager for PCRM, testify in support of AB 558.

Today, AB 558, the Child Nutrition Act of 2022, passed the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 4-1, with Chair Leyva, and Senators Glazer, Pan, and McGuire voting yes, Senator Dahle voting no, and Senator Cortese abstaining. Senator Ochoa Bogh was not present. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-Los Angeles) and cosponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Friends of the Earth, and the Factory Farm Awareness Coalition, will create a voluntary grant program to help schools serve more plant-based meals and milks. The bill passed the Committee despite the dairy and beef industries spreading misinformation about plant-based foods and the scope of the bill.

“It is appreciated when our elected officials see through the misleading information spread by the beef and dairy industry about AB 558. Today, four Committee members voted on what the bill actually does versus the lies of special interest,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation. “We especially thank Chair Leyva for her leadership on the dais as she led an honest conversation on the bill.”

With plant-based meals being healthier and more climate-friendly than meat and dairy, the industries made issue with processed foods and out-of-state sourcing of plant-based foods. But what they failed to point out is that the 9 of the top 10 school lunches meals served in California all contain processed meat and/or processed cheese! Reducing processed food across the board is a laudable goal, but we should not be preventing kids accessing plant-based food because it might be processed only to turn around and serve them processed meat and dairy.

The opposition also argued that this program would somehow divert sourcing to out of state products. Food served at California schools is primarily sourced through the USDA, which means these foods are already coming from many places outside of California. We support efforts to ensure our state’s schools are buying food from California sources as much as possible, but it makes no sense to create unequal sourcing requirements for plant-based foods when meat and dairy have no sourcing requirements.

The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

We cannot thank you all enough for the action you take for the animals! Please consider making a donation to help us continue our work.

 

With gratitude,

Judie Mancuso, founder/CEO/president
Social Compassion in Legislation

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