California is aiming to reduce food insecurity among college students by expanding a relief program to community colleges within 10 counties.
Under a bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, students at the colleges will be able to use credits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—known in the state as CalFresh—to purchase meals at select restaurants in the schools’ area. Restaurants on state-owned campuses will also be permitted to accept CalFresh credits, regardless of their location, provided the establishments meet the standards set by the Restaurant Meal Program (RMP).
The bill, AB-612, requires the California Community Colleges system to codify and implement the program by Feb.1, 2021.
Separately, the governor signed a bill into law that calls for expanding the RMP to the whole state, instead of keeping it limited to the current 10 counties. The legislation requires the state Department of Social Services to have a plan in place by Sept. 1, 2020.
Both measures are aimed at helping California residents who aren’t sure if their finances will cover meals.
The community colleges legislation cited research findings that 22% of the state’s community college students are unable to afford food. In addition, many do not have facilities to prepare their own meals. The insecurity makes them more likely to drop out of college, according to the bill.