Amid the avalanche of bills now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature or veto is one born here in Oakland that would streamline state food assistance applications to increase the number of kids and families receiving aid.
AB 402 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would let families seeking free and reduced-price school lunches also apply for the CalFresh food stamps program at the same time, on one application.
CalFresh is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is available to people with maximum gross income of 130 percent of the federal poverty level ($28,665 for a family of four) and a net income of 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and who have lived in the country for five years; are receiving disability-related benefits; or are children under 18.
The bill was conceived in part at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. The food bank says the adjustments to the application and added processing time would carry minimal costs but could bring enormous benefits to California, which currently ranks second-to-last in food stamp use.
“Although 3.4 million children are now eligible for school meal programs, a large number of these children and their families are not participating in CalFresh,” Skinner was quoted as saying in one of the legislative analyses of the bill. “California loses nearly $5 billion in federal food benefits and $1.7 billion in generated economic activity due to low CalFresh participation rates.”
The food bank estimates Alameda County alone could see an extra $107 million per year in federal funding if the bill becomes law.
The bill’s legislative analyses showed no opponents on record. The Assembly passed AB 402 in June on a 51-24 vote; the state Senate passed it Aug. 22 on a 24-10 vote; and the Assembly concurred with the Senate’s amendments Aug. 25 on a 52-25 vote, sending it to the governor’s desk.