Assembly OKs bill to ease hunger among college students

FAIRFIELD — The California Assembly this week approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd that would provide food aid to low-income college students.

“It’s no secret that going to college is expensive, but students shouldn’t have to starve to get a college education,” Dodd, D-Napa, said in a press release. “Many students today are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. My bill addresses chronic hunger, helping more Californians achieve their educational and career goals.”

Nearly one in three California college students face food and housing insecurity, according to a survey by the California Student Aid Commission. Students of color are more likely than others to report needs in both areas, the survey showed.

Senate Bill 20 would require the Student Aid Commission to proactively notify students of their eligibility for Cal Fresh benefits. Many low-income students are not aware that they may qualify for food assistance through Cal Fresh.

About 100,000 students would benefit from the proposal, according to Dodd.

The legislation is a follow-up to Senate Bill 173, written in 2019 by Dodd, which addressed streamlining the Cal Fresh application process for college students enrolled in work-study. That bill was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Supporters of SB 20 include the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations and the University of California Student Association.

The bill heads next to the Senate for concurrence before going to Newsom for a signature by Sept. 30.

Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all of Solano County and all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties.

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