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Legislation Updates

Monthly legislation updates tracking state and federal policies relating to food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), child nutrition, and other incentive programs are provided below. Please note, we’ve included all bills related to food assistance in this section. Some of the bills strengthen federal food programs while others are detrimental and would weaken the food assistance safety net. This legislation update is provided by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. Legislation update archive is available here.

September 2018

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

DC L.B. 940 (Washington, D.C.)
Title: Access to Public Benefits Amendment Act of 2018
Introduced September 17, 2018
Sponsor: Chairman Mendelson (D)
Summary: This bill would amend the District of Columbia Public Assistance Act to extend the opt out from denying Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to certain drug felons to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and other locally funded non-TANF cash assistance benefits.

NJ A.B. 4358 (New Jersey)
Title: Requires public institution of higher education to post information and provide counseling to students about New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Introduced September 13, 2018
Sponsors: Representatives Lopez (D), Mukherji (D), Huttle (D)
Summary: This bill would require public institutions of higher education to post SNAP information on their websites and expand in-person counseling services to students receiving SNAP benefits who need information concerning their eligibility.
 
NJ A.B. 4362 (New Jersey) - Companion bill to NJ S.B. 2923
Title: Establishes Restaurant Meals Program in DHS; permits certain individuals to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at approved restaurants; requires participation by certain restaurants operated by institutions of higher education
Introduced September 13, 2018
Sponsor: Representative Lopez (D)
Summary: This bill would establish a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), within the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the Department of Human Services.
Generally, federal law prohibits SNAP benefits from being used to purchase prepared food at restaurants. However, through the RMP, states have the option to allow eligible homeless, disabled, or elderly individuals to use SNAP benefits at approved restaurants that offer food at low or reduced prices. The goal of this program is to provide certain vulnerable SNAP participants, who may not have the means to store and prepare food, access to meals.
In addition, each public or private institution of higher education in the State that is located in an eligible county that elects to participate in the RMP must apply to become an approved food vendor in the program, if the institution operates any qualifying on-campus restaurants. Furthermore, the institution must annually: 1) provide all on-campus restaurants not operated by the institution with information regarding the RMP and the manner in which to apply, and 2) inform enrolled students about the program if an on-campus restaurant has been approved as a food vendor in the RMP.
 
NJ S.B. 2923 (New Jersey) - Companion bill to NJ A.B. 4362
Title: Establishes Restaurant Meals Program in DHS; permits certain individuals to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at approved restaurants; requires participation by certain restaurants operated by institutions of higher education
Introduced September 17, 2018
Sponsor: Senator Vitale (D)
Summary: This bill would establish a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), within the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the Department of Human Services.
Generally, federal law prohibits SNAP benefits from being used to purchase prepared food at restaurants. However, through the RMP, states have the option to allow eligible homeless, disabled, or elderly individuals to use SNAP benefits at approved restaurants that offer food at low or reduced prices. The goal of this program is to provide certain vulnerable SNAP participants, who may not have the means to store and prepare food, access to meals.
In addition, each public or private institution of higher education in the State that is located in an eligible county that elects to participate in the RMP must apply to become an approved food vendor in the program, if the institution operates any qualifying on-campus restaurants. Furthermore, the institution must annually: 1) provide all on-campus restaurants not operated by the institution with information regarding the RMP and the manner in which to apply, and 2) inform enrolled students about the program if an on-campus restaurant has been approved as a food vendor in the RMP.

Assistance Programs – General

CA S.B. 1892 (California)
Title: CalFresh
**Adopted September 14, 2018**
Sponsor: Assembly member Jones-Sawyer (D)
Summary: This bill directs the state department of social services to issue guidance to counties participating in the CalFresh E&T program with instructions for providing support services or client reimbursements including instructions for reimbursing a proportion of the cost of Internet or telephone service.

Child Nutrition

CA S.B. 1192 (California)
Title: Children’s meals
**Adopted September 20, 2018**
Sponsor: Senator Monning (D)
Summary: This bill requires a restaurant that sells a children's meal that includes a beverage, to make the default beverage water, sparkling water, or flavored water or nonfat or 1% milk or a nondairy milk alternative. The bill would not restrict a restaurant's ability to sell, or a customer's ability to purchase, an alternative beverage if the purchaser requests one.
 
DC L.B. 955 (Washington, D.C.)
Title: Healthy Beverages for Kids Meals Act of 2018
Introduced September 18, 2018
Sponsors: Councilmembers Nadeau (D), Grosso (I)
Summary: This bill would require food establishments that sell children's meals that include a beverage to offer either water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners; nonfat or one percent milk or nondairy milk alternatives containing no more than 0 calories per container or serving; or 100% juice, or fruit juice combined with water or carbonated water, with no added sweeteners, in a serving size of no more than 8 ounces.

NJ A.B. 4396 (New Jersey)
Title: Requires Dept. of Agriculture to increase participation in school meal programs through marketing campaign
Introduced September 13, 2018
Sponsors: Representatives Holley (D), McKnight (D), Armato (D)
Summary: This bill would require the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education to create a marketing campaign to highlight the importance of providing children the nutrition they need to succeed in school.

CA A.B. 1974 (California)
Title: Pupils: collection of debt
**Adopted September 20, 2018**
Sponsors: Assembly members Gonzalez Fletcher (D), Quirk-Silva (D)
Summary: This bill will provide that a pupil, unless emancipated, can never owe or be billed for a debt by a public school or school district, county office of education or state special school.
 
CA A.B. 2271 (California)
Title: School food authorities: federal equipment assistance grants: matching state grants
**Adopted September 23, 2018**
Sponsor: Assembly member Quirk-Silva (D)
Summary: This bill will require, upon appropriation by the Legislature, the State Department of Education to provide a matching state grant of up to $100,000 to a school food authority participating in the federal National School Lunch Program that receives a federal equipment assistance grant from the department.
 
CA A.B. 3043 (California)
Title: Pupil nutrition: breakfast and lunch programs
**Adopted September 20, 2018**
Sponsor: Assembly member Berman (D)
Summary: This bill will authorize a school district, county superintendent of schools, private school, or charter school that participates in the federal School Breakfast Program, commencing with the 2019-20 school year, after submitting certain documentation to the State Department of Education for approval, to provide universal breakfast, to the maximum extent practicable. The bill would define "universal breakfast" to mean a nutritionally adequate breakfast provided to every pupil at no charge. This bill would authorize the governing board of a school district to authorize expenditures from the cafeteria fund or cafeteria account to provide universal breakfast including the cost of purchasing a mobile food facility.
 
MI S.B. 1078 (Michigan)
Title: Education; meals; hunger-free students' bill of rights act; create
Introduced September 5, 2018
Sponsor: Senator Ananich (D)
Summary: This bill amends the School Code by establishing a hunger-free students’ bill of right so that a pupil who cannot pay for a meal or owes a meal debt is not publicly identified or stigmatized.
 
NJ A.B. 4360 (New Jersey)
Title: Provides anti-stigmatization protections to public school student whose school breakfast or school lunch bill is in arrears and requires school district to communicate about arrearages to parent and not to student
Introduced September 13, 2018
Sponsors: Representatives Murphy (D), Huttle (D)
Summary: This bill would provide additional protections for a student whose school meal bill is in arrears. Under the bill, the school district would not be permitted to publicly identify or stigmatize a student who cannot pay for a school breakfast or a school lunch or whose meal bill is in arrears by, for example, requiring the student to wear a wristband or hand stamp or by prohibiting the student from participating in field day, a class trip, or other extracurricular activities. In addition, the district would not be permitted to require the student to do chores or other work to pay for the school breakfast or school lunch. The bill also requires a school district to communicate about a meal bill in arrears to the parent or guardian, not to the student. The bill clarifies, though, that a school district is allowed to send a student home with a letter addressed to a parent or guardian regarding the meal bill matter.
 
NJ A.B. 4387 (New Jersey)
Title: Establishes NJ Agricultural Literacy Week
Introduced September 13, 2018
Sponsors: Representatives Houghtaling (D), Downey (D), Andrzejczak (D)
Summary: This bill would designate the third week in March as “NJ Agricultural Literacy Week” and require the Dept. of Agriculture, in consultation with the Dept. of Education, to establish a “NJ Agricultural Literacy Program” and to annually designate a children’s book for children in K-2nd grade to highlight the importance of agriculture and teach how agricultural products in the State provide the necessary ingredients for meals.