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CA Food Banks Stand Opposed to Rule That Would Take Food from Hungry Adults

Today, 15 attorneys general, including California's Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s final rule that will significantly cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps and known as CalFresh in California). The rule, set to take effect April 1, 2020, would result in historic cuts to our country’s most essential anti-hunger program by imposing harmful time limitations on a population labeled Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs).

Simply put, in the first year alone this rule will hurt nearly 400,000 of some of the most disenfranchised Californians -- worsening hunger and deepening poverty across our state and throughout our communities.

“We thank California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra for their leadership and ongoing support of and respect for our hungriest community members,” said Andrew Cheyne, director of government affairs for the California Association of Food Banks. “As food banks, we are on the frontlines of hunger every day and know that taking food away robs people of their dignity and only makes it more difficult to find work.”

The suit underscores that this rule will disproportionately impact women and people of color who often face greater barriers to employment, with the average unemployment rate (since 1972) at 6.1 percent for whites, while it is 13.9 percent for African Americans and 10.2 percent for Latinx. We stand with our government leaders and are as committed as ever to ending hunger and food insecurity for all Californians.

Food banks submitted comments against the proposed rule, describing the harm to emergency food providers and low-income people we serve. The lawsuit highlights that the final rule does not adequately take such comments into account. Additionally, the Administration’s publication of this rule goes against Congressional intent in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill that specifically rejected these cuts.

Should the rule go into effect, the food bank network simply will not be able to match the dramatic increase in need. According to the national food bank network Feeding America, for every meal provided by food banks, SNAP delivers nine.

The lawsuit was filed by 13 states including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as the City of New York and the District of Columbia.

We urge all SNAP / CalFresh clients and community members concerned about this to call your local county CalFresh office or food bank.

Read our prior statement about the ABAWD rule.