The California Department of Education’s Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger responded Wednesday to the “Food Fight: Small team of state examiners no match for schools that divert student meal funds” report prepared for the California Senate Rules Committee:
“Our goal is to be sure every dollar set aside to feed California’s children is spent for that purpose, and that purpose alone. The California Department of Education shares the concerns raised in the Senate report, and worked closely with the legislative staff who prepared it.
“As the report notes, our enforcement efforts have led to the repayment to districts’ cafeteria funds of more than $170 million in the last two years alone. Still, we recognize that more needs to be done. While our previous monitoring efforts primarily emphasized food nutrition, program eligibility, civil rights protections, and U.S. Department of Agriculture food requirements, we are increasing our focus on oversight of cafeteria fund expenditures.
“Accordingly, we have updated our guidance to school districts, begun training California Department of Education nutrition monitors to flag accounting issues, and are in the process of hiring additional program analysts and monitors. And in accordance with new federal requirements, the Department will begin more frequent reviews of district programs later this year.”