Today's Law As Amended


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AB-221 Emergency food assistance.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 15.5 (commencing with Section 18996.5) is added to Part 6 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

CHAPTER  15.5. Emergency Food Assistance For All
18996.5.
 For purposes of this chapter, “nonprofit entities” shall include only the following:
(a) Existing federal Emergency Food Assistance Program or Commodity Supplemental Food Program providers under contract with the State Department of Social Services.
(b) Members of the California Association of Food Banks.
(c) Nonprofit organizations that contracted with the department for the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants project.
18996.6.
 (a) The State Department of Social Services shall provide a food assistance benefit statewide to low-income California residents, regardless of their immigration status, by contracting with nonprofit entities to issue the food assistance benefit.
(b) (1) The contracts specified in subdivision (a) shall include all of the nonprofit entities’ costs to administer the program and shall allow the department to advance up to 50 percent of administrative expenses to a nonprofit entity.
(2) Administrative expenses for a nonprofit entity shall not exceed 25 percent of total program costs to administer the program.
(3) Administrative costs pursuant to paragraph (2) shall include, but are not limited to, adequate staffing, necessary security and public safety protocols, and the training of staff of the nonprofit entity.
(4) A nonprofit entity shall be responsible for community outreach using multilingual materials provided by the department.
(c) (1) The department shall procure prepaid cards that shall be provided to administer the food assistance benefit pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 18996.7 and shall ensure the availability of those prepaid cards to the nonprofit entities.
(2) The department shall ensure that the entity with which the department contracts to procure the prepaid cards provides the customer service support for those prepaid cards.
(d) (1) The department shall provide any material, including outreach, self-attestation, and informational material, to the nonprofit entities. The department shall ensure that the nonprofit entities disseminate that material to eligible recipients, as necessary for those individuals to avail themselves of the food assistance benefit.
(2) The material described in paragraph (1) shall meet departmental standards relating to threshold language and literacy levels.
18996.7.
 (a) Nonprofit entities shall distribute the food assistance benefit in the form of prepaid cards procured by the department pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 18996.6 to eligible individuals, as specified in subdivision (b).
(b) Nonprofit entities shall distribute the food assistance benefit to individuals who self-attest that they are eligible for the Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (7 C.F.R. Parts 250 and 251).
18996.8.
 (a) The food assistance benefit provided pursuant to this chapter shall be limited to use at retailers that sell groceries and shall be limited to allow only the purchase of food items.
(b) The issued prepaid card shall be preloaded with six hundred dollars ($600) and shall not be reloaded with additional benefits. The nonprofit entities may stagger the distribution periods of the food assistance benefit and shall maximize the geographic availability of the food assistance benefit in their local communities.
18996.9.
 The food assistance benefit issued pursuant to this chapter and local administrative expenses shall be allocated by the department according to guidelines developed by a workgroup consisting of the department, nonprofit entities, and other stakeholders, as determined by the department, taking into account the population of each geographic area served. The department shall inform nonprofit entities eligible to participate, and shall convene the nonprofit entities that elect to participate to adjust allocations and local administrative expenses, as well as other program design functions. The department shall endeavor to complete this process by October 1, 2021.
18996.10.
 (a) A nonprofit entity that issues the food assistance benefit pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 18996.7 shall maintain all of the following records:
(1) The total number of prepaid cards received from the department and the dates those cards are received.
(2) The total number of prepaid cards issued during each distribution period.
(3) The dates of each distribution period.
(b) A nonprofit entity shall ensure that the records described in subdivision (a) are made available to the department upon request.
18996.11.
 The food assistance benefit issued pursuant to this chapter is a disaster benefit and is not a public social service administered by the department.
18996.12.
 The department and nonprofit entities shall distribute all of the food assistance benefits by July 1, 2023.
18996.13.
 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 may implement, interpret, or make specific this chapter without taking any regulatory action.
18996.14.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, contracts awarded pursuant to this chapter are exempt from the personal services contracting requirements of Article 4 (commencing with Section 19130) of Chapter 5 of Part 2 of Division 5 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, contracts awarded pursuant to this chapter are exempt from the Public Contract Code and the State Contracting Manual, and are not subject to the approval of the Department of General Services.
18996.15.
 This chapter shall be operative upon appropriation by the Legislature.
18996.16.
 This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 15.6 (commencing with Section 18997) is added to Part 6 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

CHAPTER  15.6. Food Assistance Program Report
18997.
 (a) The department, in consultation with a workgroup consisting of the department, nonprofit entities, and other stakeholders, as determined by the department, shall author a report to provide recommendations and solutions for a permanent food assistance program for all low-income California residents experiencing food insecurity, regardless of their immigration status. The report shall include, but is not limited to, both of the following:
(1) Identifying communities who have low rates of participation in California food assistance programs.
(2) Identifying communities who have been excluded from relief efforts when a federal, local, or state emergency has been declared due to natural disasters, wildfires, a public health crisis, or other causes of a state of emergency that have impacted the health and safety of Californians.
(b) The department shall complete the study by January 1, 2023, and shall submit a copy of that report to the Legislature.
(c) The report required pursuant to this section shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
18997.5.
 This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.
SEC. 3.
 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to facilitate the immediate delivery of food assistance during the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is necessary that this act go into effect immediately.