Fueling college students’ studies

A group of college graduates photographed from behind.

On September 30th, the final day of the 2022 California legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 641 (Skinner) – the CalFresh for College Students Act into law. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano advocated for this bill as part of our Legislative Agenda, as there are well-documented barriers to alleviating college student hunger.

Current estimates are that 44% of students in the University of California system experience food insecurity. However, due to federal eligibility rules (including a requirement to work 20 hours per week – in addition to a college student’s studies), many students are unable to participate in the CalFresh program.

Those students who do meet the eligibility criteria often don’t know they can access CalFresh benefits, and promoting and supporting the program has not been a high priority for many colleges. It is estimated that only 20 to 30% of eligible students are enrolled in CalFresh.

The bill will help ease those barriers and assist counties with administering an increased number of student applications by requiring the Department of Social Services to:

  • Actively maintain a list of programs that would exempt students from eligibility rules
  • Identify ways for counties with large college student populations to process large amounts of applications during periods of the academic year
  • Submit a report estimating the amount of funds that are needed to serve all eligible students

We thank Senator Nancy Skinner (CA-9), her staff and everyone who made this possible!

Want to get involved in the fight to end hunger? Find out more about the Food Bank’s Advocacy Team and sign up for monthly updates.