California’s Fast-Food Minimum Wage Hike Could Spell Trouble for Public Schools

Kids being served lunch at school
by Robert Schmad


Two policies backed by Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom could place serious strain on California’s already fiscally unhealthy public schools.

DCNF-logoCalifornia’s new minimum wage law, which took effect Monday, guarantees a wage of at least $20 an hour for workers at fast food chains with 60 or more locations across the country, The Associated Press reported. The new law, however, does not apply to food service workers in the state’s public schools, forcing them to compete in a more expensive labor market just as schools are preparing for an increase in demand for food workers due to the state’s new universal free lunch program.

California became the first state to offer free lunches to public school students, regardless of family income, beginning in the 2022 school year, ABC 7 reported. The state’s department of education projects that the universal free lunch program will increase demand for school lunches by more than 70 million meals in 2024, AP reported.

Some school districts are bracing for the new policy environment by offering raises to their food service workers and hiring more.

The Sacramento Unified School District, for instance, increased wages for its food service workers by 10 percent last year, in anticipation of the new minimum wage law, AP reported. Workers in the district will get another 6 percent raise in July.

San Luis Coastal Unified, meanwhile, doubled its food staff in response to the increased demand for free meals, according to AP.

Not all school districts have the resources to respond to the new labor market.

“We just don’t have the increase in revenue to be able to provide additional funding for staff,” the assistant superintendent of business services of the Lynwood Unified School District in Los Angeles County told AP.

A number of large school districts in California are facing sizable budget woes, compromising their ability to spend more on food service labor.

The San Diego Unified School District faces a $94 million budgetary shortfall, Santa Barbara‘s school district is enacting sweeping layoffs in response to budgetary issues and San Francisco public schools are operating at a $420 million deficit.

California itself is also facing a nearly $38 billion budget deficit, according to AP.

The California governor’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

– – –

Robert Schmad is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “School Lunch” by U.S. Department of Agriculture.



Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Related posts