CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2023–2024 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 600


Introduced by Senator Menjivar

February 15, 2023


An act to add Section 18901.26 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to CalFresh.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 600, as introduced, Menjivar. California CalFresh Minimum Benefit Adequacy Act of 2023.
Existing federal law provides for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Existing law sets maximum allotment amounts by household size. Existing law, until July 1, 2024, requires the State Department of Social Services to create the Safe Drinking Water Supplemental Benefit Pilot Program to provide time-limited additional CalFresh nutrition benefits to residents of prioritized disadvantaged communities that are served by public water systems that consistently fail to meet primary drinking water standards.
This bill would, by January 1, 2025, require the department to establish the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit (MNB) Program to provide a household with a monthly CalFresh allotment of less than a minimum monthly benefit, established by the bill to be $50, with an additional state-funded monthly MNB that is equal to the difference between their monthly CalFresh allotment and $50. The bill would require the department to annually adjust the minimum monthly benefit amount, as prescribed, and would require these benefits to be delivered through the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system. By imposing additional duties on counties administering the program, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the California CalFresh Minimum Benefit Adequacy Act of 2023.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) One in five Californians suffers from food insecurity.
(b) The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, is the most important defense against hunger, helping millions of Californians prevent hunger and its long-term consequences.
(c) CalFresh not only helps prevent hunger among low-income households, it also creates jobs and supports our food economy across the state. Each $1 in CalFresh benefits spent generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity.
(d) During the COVID-19 pandemic, most CalFresh households received a temporary boost in CalFresh benefits through federally authorized emergency allotments. When those benefits expire in February 2023, households will face drastic reductions in their monthly benefits. The state should act to mitigate further spikes in hunger and hardship.
(e) Four in five CalFresh households include either a child, an older adult, or an individual with a disability, and 81 percent of CalFresh households have a gross monthly income less than or equal to the federal poverty level.
(f) The CalFresh minimum allotment for one- and two-person households is $23 per month in the 2022–23 federal fiscal year, while the United States Department of Agriculture estimates, through their Thrifty Food Plan, that the cost of food for a family of two is over $480 per month.
(g) Nationally, one in five SNAP households receive between the minimum allotment and $50 per month, while over one in three households with an older adult are in this benefits range.
(h) The cost of living in California is the third highest of any state in the country, after Hawaii and Washington, DC.
(i) It is therefore the intent of the Legislature that, to prevent hunger and provide a more dignified safety net, no California household should receive less than $50 per month in benefits, adjusted for inflation.

SEC. 3.

 Section 18901.26 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

18901.26.
 (a) The department shall establish the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit (MNB) Program to provide additional state-funded CalFresh nutrition benefits to ensure all CalFresh households receive a minimum monthly benefit.
(b) (1) The department shall use funds appropriated for this section to provide all eligible households a state-funded monthly MNB that is equal to the difference between the household’s federally funded monthly CalFresh allotment and the minimum monthly benefit established in subdivision (c).
(2) For purposes of this section, “eligible household” means a household that is approved to receive a federally funded monthly CalFresh allotment that is less than the minimum monthly benefit established in subdivision (c).
(c) The minimum monthly benefit is fifty dollars ($50). The department shall annually adjust the minimum monthly benefit according to the procedures developed pursuant to Section 273.10 (e)(4) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(d) (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the federal and state laws and regulations governing the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Chapter 51 (commencing with Section 2011) of Title 7 of the United States Code) shall also govern the program provided for under this section.
(2) Benefits granted pursuant to this section shall be delivered through the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system created pursuant to Sections 10072 and 10072.2.
(e) The benefits authorized pursuant to this section are entitlement benefits.
(f) This section shall become operative by January 1, 2025.

SEC. 4.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.