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Gov Brown Signs AB 214, Improving Food and Nutrition Assistance Accessibility for College Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 25, 2017

Contact: Allie Aguilera, allie.aguilera@younginvincibles.org, 202-734-6529

[California]- Last night, Governor Jerry Brown Signed AB 214, a bill that will make CalFresh, California’s SNAP program, more easily accessible to low-income college students, into law. In the past, complexities in CalFresh eligibility policy have made it difficult for at-need students to access CalFresh benefits. Last night’s signing of AB 214, introduced this session by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D- San Diego), will remove those barriers and simplify the administration of the program for college students.

Between 2015 and 2016, researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab surveyed 18 California community colleges and found that 68 percent of those students were food insecure, and 34 percent had the very lowest levels of food security, associated with hunger. Similarly, at California’s four year institutions, a pair of 2015 studies found that a quarter of CSU students and 42 percent of UC students do not have adequate access to food or experience hunger.

Below, representatives from government, student organizations, and advocacy groups comment on the signing of AB 214, as a critical step forward the fight against college hunger.

“California’s students are dedicated advocates for themselves and each other, and today they are victors in the fight against college hunger,” said Young Invincibles’ Policy & Research Director, Dr. Christopher Nellum. “The myth that glorifies the ‘starving student’ experience as inherent to one’s collegiate years goes against all that we stand for as Californians. AB 214 will ensure that thousands of students are able to focus on their studies, not where their next meal comes from. Young Invincibles is proud to have played a part in this student-driven victory.”

“College students impacted by hunger have lead in identifying the problems AB 214 is addressing and the solutions it offers,” says Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty,  one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “That has made the campaign to pass it more powerful and the victory sweeter. We are proud to be part of it.”

“The Cal State Student Association is committed to ensuring students’ basic needs are being addressed in both system and statewide policy. In a recent study, the CSU found that 24% of CSU students surveyed experienced hunger. By making an already existing state program, CalFresh, more accessible to students, AB 214 is a crucial step forward in addressing food insecurity among college students. Now that AB 214 is signed into law we are committed to working tirelessly to inform students in need of this additional resource,” said Maggie White, President, Cal State Student Association.

“On top of getting good grades, doing homework, and participating in extracurricular activities, college students shouldn’t have to wait in line at food pantries to succeed in school,” said Sam Chu, National Organizer at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “Food insecurity has become a much too common reality on our campuses and we must work to address it. I applaud the leadership of the legislature and Governor Brown in enacting AB 214 to expand and ensure access to critical federal food benefits for all eligible students in California.”

“Food insecurities can have a big impact on a student’s life: they affect students’ stress levels, finances, and can become a factor in class attendance as a result of health and focus issues related to dealing with hunger,” said Tabitha Romero,  Vice President of Legislative Affairs of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. “AB 214 is a critical step in protecting California Community College students’ health and capacity for success, and alleviating one of the most harmful barriers to success that we face.”