Today, California’s Governor Newsom and legislative leaders announced a plan for immediate action to support Californians during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
We applaud the Governor, Assemblymembers Atkins and Rendon, and Budget Chairs Ting and Skinner for taking swift action to support individuals and families struggling through this prolonged crisis. We thank these leaders for providing continued relief during this ongoing emergency.
What started as a health crisis quickly became a full blown hunger crisis. The pandemic has placed extraordinary strain on Californians, particularly Black and Latinx families. This unprecedented level of hunger — nearly 10 million — has also placed an incredible strain on California’s food banks who are serving double the number of people as prior to the pandemic.
This immediate action is a powerful step towards supporting Californinas and mitigating hunger as we continue to work together over what could be a decade long recovery.
Anti-hunger highlights include:
- $30 million to sustain the successful Emergency Food Box program and $5 million for diapers that has kept food banks stocked and able to serve our communities. This partnership between the California Department of Social Services and CAFB provided more than 2 million food boxes to Californians in 2020. The food boxes provide complete nutrition, feeding three to four people for three to four days. Immediate action prevents a gap in this vital resource from occurring in the spring.
- $600 one-time payment to individuals receiving SSI / SSP and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), or enrolled in the CalWORKS program, as well as $600 for California who file with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs). These are in addition to $600 payments for all 2020 CalEITC recipients. We celebrate these major victories for low low-income Californians who are experiencing unprecedented hunger and economic hardship, especially those that have been excluded from federal relief. This is a first step to restoring the painful cuts to SSI / SSP during the Great Recession.
- $18 million to support outreach and application assistance, and county administration, for the CalFresh expansion to college students. CalFresh is Californians biggest and best anti-hunger program. For every meal provided by food banks CalFresh provides nine. This investment could enroll more than 400,000 eligible students all while helping to stimulate local economies with federal dollars spent at local grocers. As we have long known, students who are hungry can’t learn, making this not only a key investment in a largely overlooked population, but in California’s future. We appreciate Assemblymember McCarty’s leadership, improving CalFresh access to food insecure college students.
We urge swift passage to make these provisions law, immediately. Given the scale and longevity of this crisis, we look forward to continuing to work with the Governor, Administration, and the Legislature to enact additional supports needed to fight record hunger and poverty. With families’ rainy day funds long ago depleted, it’s paramount that the State bring the maximum available budget resources to keep low-income Californians well-fed and healthy through the duration of this crisis. Access to food is a fundamental human right.
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