Today's Law As Amended

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

As Amends the Law Today

 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 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, is 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.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature to build upon the success of existing nutrition incentive programs at various retail outlets, including, but not limited to, farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, corner stores, and grocery stores, in order to support and enhance those programs and increase access to healthy food for low-income Californians.

SEC. 2.

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

 (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) “Authorized retailer” means any retail establishment that is authorized to accept CalFresh benefits, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets.
(2) “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.
(3) “Fresh fruits and vegetables” means any variety of whole or cut fruits and vegetables without added sugars, fats, oils, or salt and that have not been processed with heat, drying, canning, or freezing.
(4) “Supplemental benefits” means additional funds delivered to a CalFresh recipient’s EBT card upon purchase of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables using CalFresh benefits, and to be redeemed only for purchases allowed under the CalFresh program at an authorized retailer.
(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 an authorized retailer to deliver and redeem supplemental benefits. The supplemental benefits mechanism shall be compatible with operational procedures at farmers’ markets with centralized point-of-sale terminals and at grocery stores with integrated point-of-sale terminals. The supplemental benefits mechanism shall ensure all of the following:
(1) Supplemental benefits can be transferable across any authorized retailer.
(2) Supplemental benefits can be accrued, tracked, and redeemed by CalFresh recipients in a seamless, integrated process through the EBT system.
(3) Supplemental benefits can only be accrued by CalFresh recipients through the purchase of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables from an authorized retailer.
(4) Supplemental benefits can only be redeemed to make eligible purchases 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, including the free state-issued hardware provided to certified farmers’ markets and farmers.
(7) The supplemental benefits mechanism provides a CalFresh benefits to supplemental benefits match ratio of at least 1:1.
(8) A CalFresh household may only accrue up to a limited amount of supplemental benefits, as determined by the department.
(9) There shall be no expiration date for use of supplemental benefits, but the benefits may be expunged in accordance with federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations.
(d) There is hereby created in the State Treasury the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Grant Fund. The fund shall consist of moneys from state, federal, and other public and private sources to provide grants pursuant to subdivision (e).
(e) Upon the deposit of sufficient moneys into the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Grant Fund, as determined by the department, and upon the appropriation of moneys from the fund by the Legislature for this purpose, the department shall provide grants for pilot projects to implement and test the supplemental benefits mechanism in existing retail settings. The goal of the pilot project is to develop and refine a scalable model for increasing the purchase and consumption of California-grown fresh 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) A minimum of three grants shall be awarded to nonprofit organizations or government agencies.
(B) At least one of the grants shall provide the ability to test the supplemental benefit mechanism at farmers’ markets. A farmers’ market that operates a centralized point-of-sale terminal and a scrip system and that also participates as a pilot project pursuant to this section may disburse scrips for supplemental benefits and for California-grown fresh fruit and vegetables concurrently.
(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 that already accepts CalFresh benefits and sells fresh fruits and vegetables, including a variety of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, and commits to selling California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables during the pilot project period.
(C) Ability to ensure that supplemental benefits are only accrued and delivered when purchasing California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables with CalFresh benefits and will be used only to make purchases authorized under the CalFresh program.
(D) Status as a nonprofit organization or government agency.
(E) Ability to provide the minimum data deemed necessary for the department to successfully evaluate the pilot project, as described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f).
(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 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.
(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, 2021, 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.
(g) The department shall seek any necessary federal approvals to establish this pilot project.
(h) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2024, and as of that date is repealed.