California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that expands eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known in California as CalFresh.
The signing of the new state law is designed to provide hunger relief to struggling college students by removing barriers for those students seeking CalFresh food assistance. The program gives eligible individuals financial help to purchase food.
"They have to cut corners somewhere and we celebrate the governor making it so that they don’t have to cut corners on the food they eat," said Garret Olson, SLO Food Bank CEO.
SNAP is a federal program that distributes dollars to states which are dealt out in debit cards. Over the years, CalFresh has been modified in hopes of further utilizing the federal funding.
Historically, it has been more difficult to qualify for CalFresh as a full-time student but with the recent passing of SB641, schools are able to widen the net of potentially eligible students.
"Recently what we've seen is a revisit to what is an LPIE and how do we define them," explained Aydin Nazmi, Cal Poly CalFresh Director.
In addition to meeting an income requirement and abstaining from a school meal plan, qualification relies on a student meeting the LPIE requirement (Local Programs that Improve Employability). LPIEs are state or local government-run programs that may include adult basic education, career and technical education, English language acquisition, work readiness training, and work experience.
With the most recent bill, the law now allows more flexibility to define an LPIE.
"The state is not saying 'here are the LPIEs' but they're saying 'here are the characteristics of an LPIE, which one do you have on your campus?'" Nazmi said.
Since the allowance, there have been hundreds of LPIEs added to campuses across the state. Schools are using the verbiage in different majors as qualifying programs under the LPIE characteristics defined by the state.
To apply, you can go to getcalfresh.org. You will need to submit proper proof of your situation. This includes documents like your ID, paystubs, or rent receipts. If approved, you will get an EBT card with money for groceries within 30 days.