Senator Wiener Introduces SB 882 to Simplify CalFresh Application for Seniors

January 23, 2020

Sacramento - Senator Scott Wiener (D- San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 882 today, which would simplify CalFresh applications for seniors, and create set a timeline in statute by when all eligible Californians will be able to complete or recertify the CalFresh application entirely by phone. Assemblymember David Chiu (D- San Francisco) and Devon Mathis (R- Visalia) are principal co-authors of the bill, and Senator Bill Dodd (D- Napa) and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D- Oakland) are co-authors of the bill, demonstrating the bipartisan support for the legislation.

This legislation comes at a time when almost 40% of low income older adults (those over 60) experience food insecurity, a number that rose 21% in the last 15 years.

Currently, the CalFresh application process is unnecessarily burdensome and difficult for seniors. Only 19% of eligible older adults are actually served by CalFresh. Additionally, California ranks last in the country in the amount of eligible older adults who are signed up to access food assistance benefits.

Right now, CalFresh has an application and recertification process that requires showing up for an in-person appointment, which can be quite difficult for working parents, individuals with disabilities, seniors, and many others. In order to make CalFresh significantly more accessible for everyone, this bill also includes a provision that would require that by 2023 all counties offer eligible Californians the ability to apply or recertify completely over the phone.

“I’m proud to author this critical legislation – one of many bills I’ve spearheaded to help Californians access CalFresh – that will help those needing food assistance access it,” said Senator Wiener. “It is unacceptable that in a country and a state with so many resources and so much wealth, people are going hungry and are unable to receive the most basic benefits. The current application and recertification processes are unnecessarily challenging, and we must ensure more older Californians can access CalFresh by simplifying the process. No one should go without food. Now, it’ll be easier for seniors, working families, individuals with disabilities and anyone who needs food assistance to apply for and receive CalFresh benefits.”

The bill is sponsored by the California Food Policy Advocates.