Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would ensure low-income college students have reliable access to nutritious food through the Cal Fresh program cleared the full Senate by unanimous vote.
“Hunger is a serious problem on California college campuses today,” 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 inability to afford food – or food insecurity — is a top concern among college students. A recent Government Accountability Office report shows a third of all college student are struggling to afford food and basic nutrition. It recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service take steps to enroll people in federal food assistance programs.
Senate Bill 173 addresses the problem on a state level by removing barriers to students to get subsidies under Cal Fresh, in part by streamlining the application process. More than 50,000 California college students could be enrolled in food assistance thanks to the senator’s legislation.
The California Welfare Directors Association, the County of Yolo, student groups and area food banks support the bill. SB 173 heads next to the Assembly.
“The Cal Fresh rules for students can be extremely limiting, forcing too many struggling college students to go hungry,” said Cathy Senderling McDonald, deputy executive director of the California Welfare Directors Association. “County human services agencies hope this bill will help ease participation in the types of work-study programs that enable more students to become, and remain, eligible for this critical nutrition support program.”