The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is recommending state lawmakers reject the governor’s budget proposal for an additional $30 million for his farm-to-school grant program, which would double its budget.
The office called the leap in funding premature, given it is too early to know how effective the program currently is. CDFA will deliver its first report on the program to the Legislature in January 2024. LAO did agree with funding 16 new regional staff positions for the program.
Farm-to-school grants have been a priority for First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The California Climate and Agriculture Network and billionaire hedge fund manager Kat Taylor, a top Newsom contributor, have applauded the spending proposal, which was part of a $480 million package that also covers school kitchen modernization and hiring nutrition professionals.
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“We have seen it firsthand,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, referring to her school tours with Siebel Newsom, during a budget call with stakeholders in January. “Farm-to-school programs cultivate equity, nourish students, build climate resilience, and create scalable change for local and regional food systems.”
LAO is also pushing back on a staff position for implementing a registry on carbon sequestration and climate resiliency, as required under SB 27 in 2021. LAO recommends bumping the proposal to 2023, when work for the registry actually begins.