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Jun 23 2020 | 

Author: Teresa | 

Yesterday, the State published its FY 2020-21 budget that balances the pressing needs of Californians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with tremendous pressure on state finances. We commend the Governor and Legislature for protecting and investing in anti-hunger and human service programs when Californians need them most.

In particular, COVID-19 has widened the racial disparities of hunger and poverty, as communities of color experience the health and economic impacts of the pandemic on a far deeper scale. Nationally, among those with children, 24% of households with a white respondent were food insecure during April or May, compared to 41% of households with a Black respondent, and 36% of those with a Hispanic respondent.

We are incredibly grateful to Governor Newsom and the Legislature for continuing to stand with food banks and supporting the critical role they play in nourishing communities. Food is fundamental to all else — it’s essential to maintaining health, and enabling Californians to return to their jobs and schools. Food banks are working non-stop to meet the 73% increase in demand for emergency food. 

The budget includes $50 million to sustain the Emergency Food Box program, established in response to the pandemic, bringing life-saving food to neighborhoods across the state. It also includes $8 million in CalFood funds enabling food banks to purchase California produced foods that are in high-demand but often too costly to buy — staples like eggs or peanut butter. This represents the single largest annual investment in emergency food — investments which are critical given that nearly 10% of Californians report relying on food banks

We are equally gratified to see investments in key programs that help lift people out of poverty and reduce demand on food banks. The budget rejects the proposed cut to Social Security Income recipients, keeping $5 a month in the hands of 1.3 million older adults and people with disabilities living below the poverty level. 

After years of advocacy, the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) will finally be available to families with children younger than 6 who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is an important step forward and we will work to make the CalEITC available to every Californian. And, we celebrate enhancements to CalWORKs and CalFresh that help families meet their basic needs, as well as the much-needed resources to fight child hunger while schools are closed.

While we recognize that the budget is still dynamic, and that the underlying architecture relies on significant federal funding to help offset the decline in state revenues, we continue our call on the Senate and President to enact the provisions in H.R. 6800 to provide funds that California and every state needs.