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10 Reasons to Sign the Letter Supporting SNAP and the Safety Net

February 8, 2017

California Association of Food Banks is one of more than 1,000 organizations that has signed the National Anti-Hunger Organizations letter urging the President and Congress to protect and expand federal nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, CalFresh here in California). Read on for some of the reasons CAFB is actively engaged in responding to potential threats to the nutrition safety net and why your organization should sign on, too. The deadline is March 1st.  (Photo by Szabolcs/Flickr Creative Commons)


  1. One in eight Californians faces food insecurity. Major changes to SNAP would have devastating consequences for the 4.2 million Californians currently enrolled.
  2. Every $1 billion in SNAP benefits creates at least 10,000 jobs. CalFresh directed $7.1 billion in 100% federally-funded benefits in our 2016-17 budget year, supporting some 71,000 jobs statewide.
  3. United States House Speaker Paul Ryan’s current economic plan (based on his previous plans and statements) might call for block granting, also referred to as flexible spending, of SNAP and Medicare. Block grants would severely limit the amount of aid available and constrain future growth. Presently, only 66% of eligible households in California receive CalFresh benefits.
  4. One in four children in our state experience hunger, and nearly half of California’s children live in or near poverty. Child nutrition programs provide school lunch, school breakfast and after school snacks: free and reduced-cost food for children who would not be able to eat otherwise. A House bill last year proposed removing the national entitlement status of the National School Lunch Program.
  5. Compared to other states, the cost of living is prohibitive in California – when that is included we have the nation’s highest poverty rate at more than 20%. Seniors are especially hard hit, as California has the highest rate of senior poverty of any state. Low Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP) grant levels force senior and disabled Californians to choose between rent, medical care, food, transportation, and other basic needs.
  6. The recent slashing of SSI/SSP benefits to federal minimums and the elimination of an annual cost of living adjustment has created hunger, homelessness and hardship for SSI recipients in California. Recipients are now losing more than $1 billion in benefits each year.
  7. Federal anti-hunger programs are vital during economic downturns and natural disasters. These programs need to be in place before such situations arise, as exemplified with recent wildfires in California.
  8. The number of Californians who work full-time and year-round yet live in poverty has doubled since 1978. Nearly 80% of poor families in California have at least one adult working full time.
  9. SNAP/CalFresh, National School Lunch Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC), along with related programs like the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and SSI, have proven their ability to lift millions of Californians out of poverty, yet each of these is expected to be targeted for cuts or elimination under the new Administration and Congress.
  10.  Public nutrition programs provide 95% of all emergency meals. Food banks would never be able to fill the gap, as they currently provide 1 out of 20 meals to those in need, and many are already stretched thin.

The above list shows the importance of advocacy in the months and years ahead, as we work together to ensure we do not lose the progress we have already made in ending hunger. Will you join us by urging California’s legislators, all members of Congress and the President to fight for what is right? Sign the NAHO letter, and email Andrew Cheyne, Director of Government Affairs with any questions.

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