California Governor Signs Bill to Combat Student Food Insecurity
Low-income college students in California will soon have access to nutritious food as Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 173 into law.
Introduced by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the new law secures food for more than 50,000 California college students under Cal Fresh program, nationally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The new law will streamline the application process and remove barriers college students commonly face when enrolling in Cal Fresh.
“Food insecurity is a serious problem on California college campuses today and this is an important step to addressing it,” Sen. Dodd said. “My bill will ensure students of modest means don’t go hungry by making it easier for them to receive public assistance. Students shouldn’t have to starve in order to get an education.”
The State Department of Social Services will create a standardized form to be used by community colleges and universities to verify that a student possesses state or federal work-study for the purpose of assisting county human services agencies in determining the student’s potential eligibility for CalFresh on or before January 1, 2021.
A recent report by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia revealed that nearly half of California’s community college students experienced hunger in 2018. Those who face food insecurity include formerly incarcerated students, parents, divorced, former foster youth, African-American, LGBTQ or have served in the military.
Nationally, out of 30,000 college students, approximately half of two-year and four-year students are food insecure. A similar report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 30 percent of college students today are food insecure.
Last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) moved a bicameral College Student Hunger Act of 2019 that would make students who receive pell grants and independent students eligible to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. It would also lower the 20 hours per week work requirement for college students to 10 hours.