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AB-608 CalFresh: school meals.(2015-2016)

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CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 608


Introduced by Assembly Member Gordon
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Alejo)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Cristina Garcia, Maienschein, and Mark Stone)
(Coauthor: Senator Hancock)

February 24, 2015


An act to amend Section 18911 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to CalFresh.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 608, as introduced, Gordon. CalFresh: school meals.
Existing law provides for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Existing federal law requires that a child receiving benefits under SNAP be certified as eligible for free school lunches and breakfasts without further application. Existing law requires a county welfare department to compile a list of emergency food providers and make that list available upon request.
This bill would instead require a county human services agency to compile a list of emergency and supplemental food assistance providers, as specified. The bill would also require a county human services agency to inform households applying for CalFresh that if the household is certified for CalFresh, specified children in the household are income-eligible for the WIC Program and all children in the household are directly certified for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program without further application. The bill would also require the Department of Social Services to inform all CalFresh households annually, prior to the end of the school year, about the summer meal program using information the department receives the State Department of Education and a method deemed appropriate by the department. The bill would require the department to implement these provisions by all-county letters or similar instructions beginning no later than March 1, 2016, until regulations are adopted, and would require the department to adopt regulations on or before October 1, 2017. The bill would also include a statement of legislative findings and declarations.
By increasing the duties of county human services agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Over 2 million children in California live in low-income families and are in danger of experiencing hunger.
(2) California is home to more children living in poverty than any other state in the country.
(3) Child development experts have found that even one incidence of hunger can impact a child’s health and future academic success.
(4) Research conducted in California has found that most families do not apply for public assistance until they are already experiencing hardship from unmet basic needs.
(5) Federal law requires states to directly certify children in a CalFresh household for the National School Lunch Program and state law requires all public schools, except charter schools, to serve a free or reduced-price school meal during the schoolday.
(6) In California, the process for a family with children to be directly certified can take up to three months and a school meal may not be received through direct certification while a CalFresh application is pending.
(7) During the summer months, child hunger increases with the absence of school meals and the lack of information about summer lunch programs for children.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to reduce opportunities for children to go hungry by requiring increased coordination between CalFresh and child nutrition programs administered by the State Department of Education.

SEC. 2.

 Section 18911 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18911.
 (a) An application and an authorization for participation in CalFresh shall be processed within a period of not more than 30 days from the date of application.
(b) The department shall develop written information that describes the eligibility and verification requirements for expedited service, the process for applying for those benefits, and the availability of assistance in filling out the forms and gathering needed documentation.
(c) Each A county welfare department human services agency shall make the material developed pursuant to subdivision (b) available to each an applicant at the time the applicant initially seeks CalFresh benefits.
(d) Each A county welfare department human services agency shall, upon request, make available the information developed pursuant to subdivision (b) to community action agencies, legal services offices, emergency food programs, and other community programs.

(e)Each county welfare department shall compile a list of emergency food providers in the area served by the local CalFresh office. The list shall be updated, based on information from the food providers. The list shall be made available upon request, and, where needed, may be used to refer individuals to emergency food sites that may be able to provide assistance.

(e) (1) A county human services agency shall compile a list of emergency and supplemental food assistance providers, including local nutrition assistance programs authorized by Chapter II (commencing with Section 210.1) of Subtitle B of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, in the area served by the local CalFresh office. The list shall be updated, based on information the county receives from emergency and supplemental food assistance providers, cities, school districts, summer lunch providers, the State Department of Education, and the California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Program). The list shall be made available to households applying for CalFresh.
(2) A county human services agency shall inform households applying for CalFresh that if the household is certified for CalFresh, children under five years of age in the household are income-eligible for the WIC Program, pursuant to Section 246.7 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and all children in the household are directly certified for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program without further application, pursuant to Section 245.6 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(f) Each A county welfare department human services agency shall make available to CalFresh applicants, upon request, nonpromotional information that contains addresses and phone numbers of local legal services and welfare rights organizations.
(g) The State Department of Social Services shall inform all CalFresh households annually, prior to the end of the school year, about the summer meal program using information the department receives from the State Department of Education and a method deemed appropriate by the department.

SEC. 3.

 Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the department shall implement this act by all-county letters or similar instructions beginning no later than March 1, 2016, until regulations are adopted. The department shall adopt regulations implementing this act on or before October 1, 2017.

SEC. 4.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.