I’m just back from California where Jeff Bridges and I met with Governor Jerry Brown and Diana Dooley, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, to enlist support for our No Kid Hungry campaign. The Governor is a young 78, and as you’ll see from the attached pic, a clean-shaven Jeff was looking quite youthful himself. (Jeff brought some swag from The Big Lebowski but Brown had never heard of the film and his staff apologized that “he’s only seen about four movies in his entire life.”) The Governor asked about obstacles to kids getting nutritious meals, and how our campaign works. His aides agreed to bring him a plan and the door is open for us to do a launch event together later this year.
We also met separately with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson whose staff includes 300 people focused on the food and nutrition assistance programs delivered in schools and they are eager to work with us.
The meetings affirmed our role as a voice for children who are otherwise voiceless. The combination of Jeff Bridges, our strong results in “proof of concept” states where we’ve invested heavily, and the appeal of our proposed investment of $38 million in California over the next 10 years to leverage $162 million in annual federal reimbursements, helps ensure our voice is heard.
Next steps are for our team and Governor Brown’s team to prioritize regions of the states and plan an event that raises the campaign’s visibility. The opportunity is tremendous in areas like San Francisco and Oakland that have school breakfast participation rates as low as 31% and 36% respectively. We know from other communities in which we’ve brought the campaign, including Los Angeles, that we can move the needle and change outcomes for kids, schools, and communities. California here we come.