California public schools provide more than two million free
or reduced-price lunches for poor students every day.
But the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes
report found millions of dollars misappropriated.
Further, it found the state Department of Education
ill-equipped to monitor school lunch programs to ensure money is
The report shows the misused funds paid for personnel,
utilities and other costs.
The Department has required eight school districts to repay
nearly 170 million dollars in meal money.
Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger responded to the
report in a statement. "The California Department of Education
shares the concerns raised in the Senate report."
"We have updated our guidance to school districts," says
Zeiger. He added the Department is in the process of hiring
Later this year the Department will begin more frequent
reviews of district food programs.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called the misuse
of funds "hugely disappointing." He says the report's
findings suggest that the problem can be fixed by "simple adherence
to the governing codes."
"Unless the legislature is satisfied of a commitment by
administrators to change current practice, we will be forced to
look at legislative means to enforce adherence," says