Good Anti-Hunger Investments in 2022-2023 Senate Budget Plan, More is Needed in Order to Meet Current & Future Huger Crisis
April 29, 2022
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April 29, 2022
Earlier this week, the Senate released their powerful Senate Budget Plan. We applaud Senator Skinner, Pro Tem Atkins, and the entire Senate Budget leadership for the inclusion of many important priorities that will be critical in ensuring that the wellbeing of California’s most vulnerable residents are at the heart of our state budget.
In particular, we are grateful for the recognition of the ongoing and unprecedented strain on the state’s network of food banks and emergency food providers, particularly given the multiple fronts of COIVD-19-related demand and climate-fueled disasters that have spiked community need for food. The Senate Budget Plan includes $180 million to expand capacity and improve facilities for local food banks, so that they can meet community need for food, as well as to build resiliency in a changing climate. It’s essential for food banks to be able to meet the ongoing, increased demand for food, as well as be prepared and stay operational when communities need them most. The Budget Plan also includes permanent authorization for the State Disaster Food Assistance Program (SDFAP) to ensure that there is an adequate resource to respond to California’s disasters that often force families to make life-saving decisions overnight.
In addition to these investments, we are asking for augmentations to the proven and critically important CalFood program that enables California food banks to purchase healthy, California grown foods. We are requesting a total of $120 million in the 2022-23 budget to meet this need:
Hunger remains alarmingly high even as the COVID-19 pandemic surges subside in California, and the larger economic and social impact will no doubt be felt for years to come. The latest data shows that 8 million Californians – or 20% of our population – are experiencing food insecurity, with deep disparities for Black and Latinx people.
At the same time, we are facing a dangerous federal food and benefits cliff. While the federal government provided a robust initial response to the COVID-19 crisis, food banks experienced a federal food cliff of more than 83% from 2020 to 2022 and a 45% drop just from 2021 to 2022. And as we approach the end of the federal Public Health Emergency as early as mid-July, people receiving SNAP (CalFresh) benefits are expected to lose on average $82 per month when Emergency Allotments sunset. This is compounded by record-setting food price inflation, from pandemic related supply shocks and other market disruptions.
Given the stark reality for millions of Californians struggling to make ends meet, we applaud the Senate Budget Plan for prioritizing programs that are critical to ensuring people have the food and resources they need to survive, and are calling for additional investments.
We applaud Senate budget leaders for several bold priorities to support the economic wellbeing of people and families who are struggling to make ends meet.