Special to the Vanguard
Sacramento, CA – Senator Bill Dodd first introduced his bill, SB 20, to address student food insecurity back in December of 2020. On Thursday, the bill which would help provide food aid to low-income college students, ensuring the underserved population receives adequate nutrition to fulfill their educational goals, passed the Assembly.
“It’s no secret that going to college is expensive, but students shouldn’t have to starve to get a college education,” Sen. Dodd said. “Many students today are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. My bill addresses chronic hunger, helping more Californians achieve their educational and career goals.”
Nearly one in three California college students faces food and housing insecurity, according to a survey by the California Student Aid Commission. Students of color are more likely than others to report needs in both areas, the survey said.
SB 20 would require the Student Aid Commission to proactively notify students of their eligibility for Cal Fresh benefits. Many low-income students are not aware that they may qualify for food assistance through Cal Fresh.
About 100,000 students would benefit from the proposal. It is a follow-up to SB 173, written in 2019 by Sen. Dodd, which streamlined the Cal Fresh application process for college students enrolled in work-study. That bill was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Sponsors of SB 20 include the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations and the University of California Student Association.
“This legislation is designed to address some of the massive hunger being experienced by many students in Sacramento and the surrounding counties due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kevin Aslanian, executive director of the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations.
The Assembly approved SB 20 with overwhelming support. The bill heads next to the Senate for concurrence before going to Gov. Newsom for a signature by Sept. 30.