The Community Food and Justice Coalition supports the work of our partners and community leaders on the ground. After discussing focus areas with our organizational members and community partners, CFJC has identified our legislative priorities for 2015. The below legislative priorities support CFJC’s Policy Principles, and may change throughout the year to provide continuous support to our community partners and legislative champions. Please check back frequently for updates. For questions related to the below legislative priorities, or requests to contribute to CFJC’s policy work behalf of you or your networks moving forward, please contact our office at (510) 547-1547. This list was last updated June, 2015, bills may have been amended since their initial introduction.
California State Legislation
CA Assembly Bills
AB 292 – Pupil Nutrition: Free or Reduced-Price Meals: Adequate Time to Eat
Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), 53rd District
Sponsored by the California Food Policy Advocates, this re-introduction of AB 2449 from last year would require school districts and county offices of education ensure students have at least 20 minutes to eat after being served, or take steps to meet this standard by 2016-17 school year. This bill increases the likelihood that California students receive the full benefits of a nutritious school lunch, which improves student nutrition and learning capacity.
AB 357 – Fair Scheduling Act
Assembly Members Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), 49th District and Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), 79th District
Co-sponsored by The Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Commercial Workers Western States Council, AB 357 would require food and retail establishments with 500 or more employees in California to provide at least two weeks scheduling notice for their workers and additional pay for last minute schedule changes. This will reduce the impact of unpredictable and unstable work schedules experienced by mostly low-income food and retail workers in California.
AB 515 – Farm to Family Tax Credit
Assembly Member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), 13th District
Co-sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks and the California Farm Bureau, AB 515 would offer most California agricultural producers a 20 percent tax credit for the wholesale value of food donated to food banks. This would encourage more donations to food banks by farmers and increase access to healthy foods for many low-income Californians.
AB 608 – CalFresh: School Meals
Assembly Member Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), 24th District
Sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, AB 608 would require a county human services agency to compile a list of emergency & supplemental food assistance providers in the area served by the local CalFresh office and be made available to household applying for CalFresh. Local agencies would also have to inform a household that qualifies for CalFresh that kids under 5 years are income-eligible for WIC, and all children are directly certified for school meals, as well as notify CalFresh households at the end of the school year about the summer food program. These steps will increase food security for children in California.
AB 702 – CalWORKs: Temporary Shelter Assistance
Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, (R-San Diego), 77th District
Co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, and the San Diego Hunger Coalition, AB 702 would make temporary housing assistance more accessible. Existing law, with certain exceptions, provides eligible families with homeless assistance, including temporary shelter assistance for one period of up to 16 consecutive calendar days. This bill would eliminate the requirement that the temporary assistance be provided during one period of consecutive days, and instead would limit the temporary assistance to a maximum of 16 calendar days. AB 702 increases housing options for our state’s poorest families with children while improving the program’s administration.
AB 1240 – Pupil Nutrition: Free or Reduced-Price Meals: Breakfast
Assembly Members Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), 18th District and Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), 15th District
Sponsored by California Food Policy Advocates, AB 1240 would require each school district or county office of education with K-12 to make school breakfast available to all students when at least 40% of students enrolled are free- or reduced-price eligible (FRP), from Jul. 1, 2016 – Jun. 30, 2017. This requirement changes based on the mix of a school’s FRP students in 2017, 2018, and beyond 2018. As breakfast plays a critical role in academic achievement and health, this program would provide California students with increased opportunities for success.
AB 1321 – Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program
Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), 19th District
Co-sponsored by The Ecology Center, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the Public Health Institute and Roots of Change, AB 1321 would create the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program to be administered by CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork, which would collect matching funds from the federal Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program & other public-private sources. This program doubles the purchasing power of nutrition benefits (e.g. CalFresh) when used to buy California grown fruits, nuts & vegetables. AB 1321 will alleviate poverty and food insecurity, maximize access to fresh healthy foods, and stimulate economic growth in both agricultural and urban communities.
AB 1059 – California Communities Environmental Health Screening
Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Downey), 58th District
This bill would direct CalEPA to improve air quality monitoring and better fund environmental improvement projects along the California-Mexico border region. This region faces particularly acute air pollution and thus public health concerns. AB 1059 will work to bring environmental justice to the communities in these census tracts.
AB 359 – Protect Middle Class Grocery Jobs through Worker Retention
Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), 80th District
Co-sponsored by Roots of Change, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and the Community Food and Justice Coalition, AB 359 will protect grocery workers being terminated during a 90-day transition period if the grocery store (15,000 sq. ft. or larger) is undergoing a change of ownership. It stipulates that an eligible worker cannot be terminated during the 90-day transition period without a specific cause and that eligible workers will be retained pending a satisfactory written evaluation from the new employer. These protections will ensure job security and stability for grocery workers.
CA State Bills
SB 3 – Minimum Wage: Adjustment
State Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), 11th District and Connie Leyva (D-Chino), 20th District
Co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and the SEIU-CA State Council, SB 3 would increase the minimum wage to $13/hour by July 1, 2017, and require an annual automatic adjustment of the minimum wage starting January 1, 2019. It would also prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission from adjusting the minimum wage downward if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. By raising the state’s minimum wage, SB 3 will help lift Californians out of poverty
SB 23 – CalWORKS Eligibility
State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), 30th District
Co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the East Bay Community Law Center, the County Welfare Directors Association of America, the American Civil Liberties Union – CA, Access Women’s Health Justice, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, SB 23 will repeal the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule, a rule that prohibits parents receiving assistance through the CalWORKS program to receive a basic needs grant for any child born to the household while any member of the household is receiving aid. Through repealing the MFG rule, SB 23 will ensure protection for newborns’ healthy and safety.
SB 297 – Public Benefits: Eligibility Determinations
State Senator Mark McGuire (D-Healdsburg), 2nd District
This bill requires the State Department of Social Services to develop and make available to county human services agencies an electronic verification system that allows the agency eligibility workers to access data available electronically from other state agencies and programs for use in connection with the determination of eligibility for means‑tested public benefit programs. It also requires a system to store telephonic and electronic signatures. SB 297 will make it easier for California residents to participate in CalFRESH through online and over-the-phone enrollment and thus increase food security for the state’s low-income residents.
SB 521 – CalFresh Employment and Training Program
State Senator Carol Liu (D-Glendale), 25th District
This bill relates to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under which nutrition assistance benefits are allocated to each state. It authorizes counties to participate in the CalFresh Employment and Training program with the purpose of assisting members of program households to obtain employment. SB 521 further requires participating counties to screen work registrants for participation/exemption and requires increased access to adult and post‑secondary education. SB 521 will assist CalFresh recipients in finding employment and thus reducing poverty for some of California’s low-income residents.
SB 608 – Right to Rest
State Senator Carol Liu (D-Glendale), 25th District
Co-sponsored by The East Bay Community Law Center, JERICHO: A Voice for Justice, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Western Regional Advocacy Project, SB 608 which would enact the Right to Rest Act. SB 608 would afford persons experiencing homelessness the right to use public space without discrimination based on their housing status. The bill would describe basic human and civil rights that may be exercised without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions or harassment, including the right to use and to move freely in public spaces, the right to rest in public spaces and to protect oneself from the elements, the right to eat in any public space in which having food is not prohibited, the right to perform religions observances in public spaces, and the right to occupy a motor vehicle or a recreational vehicle legally parked or parked with the permission of the property owner, as specified. SB 608 will guarantee that a most basic human necessity, resting, is protected for all residents regardless of their housing status.
SB 708 – Pupil Nutrition: Free or Reduced-Price Meals: Online Applications
State Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), 32nd District
Sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, SB 708 would authorize boards of school districts and county superintendents to make FRP meal applications available online, based on specified requirements, and including clear instructions for families that are homeless or migrants. By establishing uniform standards for online school meal applications, SB 708 will reduce the incidence of child hunger.
SB 334 – Pupil Nutrition: Drinking Water
State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), 20th District
This bill would delete the provision authorizing a school district to adopt a resolution stating that is unable to provide access to free, fresh drinking water during meal times through drinking water access points, as defined, thereby making it mandatory. It requires school districts to test water quality and adds “clean and cold” to “free and fresh” in regards to drinking water. SB 334 will ensure that California students have access to safe and clean drinking water while at school.
Local and National Policy Work
The Community Food and Justice Coalition sees policy as a tool for social change and a platform by which we can work to shift the paradigm. CFJC pursues policy initiatives that support the whole individual and environmental and food justice, including: healthy food access, economic development, access to land, nutrition and physical activity, our climate, and food and farm workers, among others. View CFJC’s 2013 Policy Priorities