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SB-900 Electronic benefits transfer system: CalFresh supplemental benefits.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 01/16/2018 09:00 PM
SB900:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 900


Introduced by Senator Wiener
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Arambula)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Mayes and Steinorth)

January 16, 2018


An act to add Section 10072.3 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 900, as introduced, Wiener. Electronic benefits transfer system: CalFresh supplemental benefits.
Existing federal 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 law, administered by the State Department of Social Services, provides for the establishment of a statewide electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system for the purpose of providing financial and food assistance benefits, including CalFresh benefits.
This bill would require the department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture and stakeholders with experience operating CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, to include within the EBT system a supplemental benefits mechanism that allows a retailer authorized to accept CalFresh benefits to deliver and redeem supplemental benefits, as specified. The bill would define supplemental benefits to mean additional funds delivered to a CalFresh recipient’s EBT card upon purchase of California-grown fruits and vegetables using CalFresh benefits, and to be redeemed only for purchases allowed under the CalFresh program at an authorized retailer.
The bill would also require the department to provide a minimum of 3 grants to nonprofit organizations or government agencies for pilot projects to implement and test the supplemental benefits mechanism in existing retail settings, and to develop and adopt guidelines for awarding the grants, that includes selection criteria requiring that grant applicants demonstrate, among other things, previous experience and effectiveness in administering CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, or similar supplemental benefits programs. The bill would provide that the provision of supplemental benefits under the supplemental benefits mechanism may be funded by any combination of public or private funds, and shall be contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the Legislature for that purpose. The bill would require the department to evaluate the pilot projects and make recommendations to further refine and expand the supplemental benefits mechanism, and to submit a report to the Legislature with the outcomes of that evaluation on or before January 1, 2020.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Despite California’s wealth and agricultural abundance, millions of Californians struggle daily to make ends meet and provide their families with enough food. This inequity has deep, negative impacts on the health of California families, contributing to high levels of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.
(b) Clear evidence indicates that increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables can help improve health outcomes, yet millions of low-income Californians report that they cannot consistently afford to purchase fruits and vegetables.
(c) Numerous studies and evaluations have found that the CalFresh benefit amount, which is set by the federal government, is inadequate to support the purchase of nutritious foods that support a healthy diet, particularly fruits and vegetables.
(d) In the past decade, programs providing supplemental benefits to CalFresh recipients piloted by numerous organizations in California and nationwide have demonstrated that when low-income families have additional money for fruits and vegetables they buy and consume more fruits and vegetables. These programs have been funded with grants from the California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program, and private philanthropy.
(e) These supplemental benefit programs support California’s farmers and agricultural sector by increasing sales of California-grown fruits and vegetables.
(f) For supplemental benefit programs to be widely available at grocery stores and farmers’ markets statewide, customers and retailers need a system that is simple to use, efficient to administer, and can be incorporated into existing retail business operations.
(g) Integrating supplemental benefits into the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system provides a mechanism that would allow for many more retailers to easily disburse and redeem CalFresh supplemental benefits, and by extension, for many more CalFresh participants to access and afford an adequate and nutritious diet.

SEC. 2.

 Section 10072.3 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

10072.3.
 (a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project.
(b) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “California-grown” means agricultural products that have been produced in the state, as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 43100 of the Food and Agricultural Code.
(2) “Supplemental benefits” means additional funds delivered to a CalFresh recipient’s EBT card upon purchase of California-grown fruits and vegetables using CalFresh benefits, and to be redeemed only for purchases allowed under the CalFresh program at a retailer authorized to accept CalFresh benefits.
(c) The department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture and stakeholders with experience operating CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, shall include within the EBT system a supplemental benefits mechanism that allows a retailer authorized to accept CalFresh benefits to deliver and redeem supplemental benefits. The supplemental benefits mechanism shall ensure all of the following:
(1) Supplemental benefits can be transferable across any retailer that is authorized to accept CalFresh.
(2) Supplemental benefits can be accrued, tracked, and redeemed by CalFresh recipients in a seamless, integrated process on the EBT card.
(3) Supplemental benefits can only be accrued by CalFresh recipients through the purchase of California-grown fruits and vegetables from an authorized retailer.
(4) Supplemental benefits can only be redeemed to purchase eligible foods under the CalFresh program from an authorized retailer.
(5) The supplemental benefits mechanism complies with all applicable state and federal laws governing procedures to ensure privacy and confidentiality.
(6) Authorized retailers that use EBT-only point-of-sale terminals, such as farmers’ markets, and those that use integrated point-of-sale terminals, such as grocery stores, shall be able to integrate the new supplemental benefits mechanism into their existing systems.
(7) The supplemental benefits mechanism provides a CalFresh benefits to supplemental benefits match ratio of at least 1:1.
(8) There shall be no expiration date for use of supplemental benefits, other than those in accordance with federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations.
(d) The department shall provide grants for pilot projects to implement and test the supplemental benefits mechanism in existing retail settings, including grocery stores and farmers’ markets. The goal of the pilot project is to develop and refine a scalable model for increasing the purchase and consumption of California-grown fruits and vegetables by delivering supplemental benefits to CalFresh recipients in a way that can be easily adopted by authorized retailers of various types, sizes, and locations in the future. The department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, shall develop and adopt guidelines for awarding the grants, which shall include, at a minimum, all of the following requirements:
(1) A minimum of three grants shall be awarded to nonprofit organizations or government agencies.
(2) Selection criteria shall require that grant applicants demonstrate all of the following:
(A) Previous experience and effectiveness in administering CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, or similar supplemental benefits programs.
(B) Partnership commitment from at least one existing authorized retailer or farmer’s market who already accepts CalFresh benefits and sells fresh fruits and vegetables, including a variety of California-grown fruits and vegetables, and commits to selling California-grown fruits and vegetables during the pilot project period.
(C) Ability to ensure that supplemental benefits are only accrued and delivered when purchasing California-grown fruits and vegetables with CalFresh benefits and will be used only to purchase foods authorized under the CalFresh program.
(D) Status as a nonprofit organization or government agency.
(E) Ability to provide data deemed necessary for the department to successfully evaluate the pilot project.
(F) Any other criteria that the department deems necessary for successful pilot project implementation, such as the level of need in the community, the size of the CalFresh population, and the need for geographic diversity.
(3) Grantees shall be responsible for all of the following:
(A) Securing the commitment of at least one authorized retailer or farmers’ market willing to participate in the pilot project.
(B) Conducting community outreach.
(C) Providing evaluation data to the department.
(D) Ensuring the integrity of the pilot project following guidelines adopted by the department pursuant to this subdivision.
(e) The provision of supplemental benefits under the supplemental benefits mechanism designed pursuant to this section may be funded by any combination of public or private funds, and shall only be provided contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the Legislature for that purpose.
(f) (1) The department shall evaluate the pilot projects and make recommendations to further refine and expand the supplemental benefits mechanism. The evaluation shall examine the efficacy of supplemental benefits accrual, delivery, and redemption from the perspective of CalFresh recipients, participating retailers, and state administrators. The evaluation shall also provide recommendations for further modifications that would make the mechanism easier for CalFresh recipients to use, for a variety of authorized retailer types to adopt, and for the department to administer. The department may contract with an independent evaluator to conduct this evaluation.
(2) On or before January 1, 2020, the department shall submit a report to the Legislature that includes the results of the evaluation required pursuant to paragraph (1).
(3) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (2) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.