California ‘FRESH Act’ Legislation Designed to Better Prepare Incarcerated for Reentry to Society 

By Roxy Benson & Melinda Kukaj

SACRAMENTO, CA – The “FRESH Act,” introduced by California State Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) this month, is designed to reduce recidivism by allowing and aiding formerly incarcerated individuals to have the opportunity to pre-apply for CalFresh benefits 90 days after their release date, ensuring a smoother reentry into society.

The FRESH Act (SB 1254) uses unused federal funding to support CalFresh, reaching more people, and fostering an environment where the California Dept of Social Services (CDSS) can provide a more uniform process for re-entry for those who have been incarcerated, according to Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

Sen. Becker stated. “Expanding and streamlining access to benefits and programs for which incarcerated individuals already qualify increases the success of their re-entry. Every option we have to ensure that the re-entry process is as seamless as possible, and The FRESH Act will connect people to vital services and fresh foods.”

The FRESH Act is sponsored by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children-All of Us or None and Nourish California, and supported by Justice in Aging tremendously aids individuals who were incarcerated.

According to a statement by supporters, “Food insecurity is one of the most challenging hurdles that previously incarcerated individuals face upon re-entry. While there is already an existing re-entry enrollment process for Medi-Cal and other benefits, there are no equivalent enrollment processes for CalFresh and various other supportive services.”

With The FRESH Act in place, this process eliminates any excess barriers in the way of re-entry for previously incarcerated people, as well as programs to help individuals with various state services, maintains Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

The group added the bill “creates a workgroup within CDSS to create a report to the department and Legislature with recommendations for a statewide reentry process incorporating all potential necessary resources for an individual’s re-entry into the community.”

Kameron Mims-Jones, a senior advocate with Nourish California, stated, “By incorporating CalFresh as a stabilizing factor, SB1254 aligns with our shared commitment to building an inclusive, supportive, and resilient California…By supporting the integration of CalFresh into reentry programs, we are taking a proactive step towards positive change, recognizing the transformative power it brings to the lives of those seeking to rebuild.”

Supporters said “the bill will also require CDSS and Department of Health Care Services to create and test a Medi-Cal and CalFresh combined application for incarcerated individuals soon leaving incarceration by or on Jan. 1, 2026.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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