Legislation to Prevent Food Insecurity Among Military Families Passes Senate

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Senate has passed SB 950, which would require the State Department of Social Services (DSS) to submit a request to the United States Department of Agriculture, on or before December 31, 2023, to waive a federal requirement in order to exclude the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for members of a uniformed service from countable income in the calculation of CalFresh eligibility.

“The men and woman who are serving and defending our nation should never be a position where they are struggling to provide food for themselves and their families,” said Senator Archuleta. “It is unacceptable that thousands of military families are experiencing food insecurity.”

California is home to 180,000 service-members and their families, the most of any state. The state is also known for having some of the highest housing costs in the country. This has been acknowledge by the Department of Defense (DOD) when adjusting Basic Allowance for Housing for service members who live off-base. The Basic Allowance for Housing provides military personnel and their families with equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets when military housing is not provided. Basic Allowance for Housing rates are based on several factors, including location, pay grade, and dependency status.

Due to the high cost of living in California, military personnel and their families living in California are disproportionally impacted and at risk of becoming food insecure as the BAH is required to be counted as countable income for determining eligibility for the CalFresh program. Service members and their families in California are allotted a higher BAH than those in states with lower costs. However, this high allowance also inadvertently disqualifies many military families from being eligible for CalFresh, even when they struggle to afford food. 

“SB 950 requires the state to seek a federal waiver to exclude the Basic Allowance for Housing from counting as countable income for the purposing of determining CalFresh eligibility for military personal and their families. By modifying income calculations, the state would address a longstanding and shameful shortcoming in military compensation that will help our brave servicemembers put food on the table.”

SB 1357 passed 39-0 and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

Senator Bob Archuleta represents the 32nd Senate District, which includes portions of Los Angeles County and Orange County. He is Chair of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Chair of the Select Committee on Hydrogen Energy, and member of the Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange. Website of Senator Bob Archuleta: https://sd32.senate.ca.gov/