New Mitchell law allows “street kids” to get food through CalFresh

September 11, 2013

Sacramento -- Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell’s bill, AB 309, to allow unaccompanied homeless youth – those not under the care of a parent or guardian – to obtain CalFresh food benefits, has been signed into law by the Governor and goes into effect January 1st.

“Kids need to eat, even – especially – if they are on the street because they’re homeless, abandoned or run-aways,” said Assemblywoman Mitchell, who chairs the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and the Select Committee on Foster Youth. “We run food programs that provide nutrition for seniors and for children in adult custody. From now on if a hungry youth shows up alone, the price of a meal won’t be scrounging up a guardian.”

CalFresh (formerly known as the food stamp program) is funded by the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which allows unaccompanied homeless youth to participate without living with a parent. Yet some California counties add on age limits which exclude teenagers not living with a legal guardian from the food benefit. AB 309 recognizes unaccompanied homeless youth as part of the homeless population targeted for help and declares them eligible for CalFresh food subsidies.

“Once a kid is eating, we can look into other unmet needs, pull in services and try to connect them with caring family members,” Mitchell added. “But it’s wrong to hold food hostage from the hungry because they’re young and alone.”

Sponsored by MAZON - A Jewish Response to Hunger and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, AB 309 was supported by the California Coalition for Youth, and was approved by the Legislature without a dissenting vote.