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CAFB Calls for Swift Passage of the American Rescue Plan, More Action Needed to Fight Record Levels of Hunger

February 12, 2021

This week, Congress took key steps to advance Budget Reconciliation legislation for President Biden and Vice President Harris’ American Rescue Plan, $1.9 trillion package to provide much needed stimulus and relief to the millions of Californians struggling to survive this pandemic.

We applaud the critically-needed provisions to support SNAP (known as CalFresh in California), Pandemic EBT, child nutrition, emergency food, older Americans, and other food safety net programs. The legislation also has several income assistance provisions including stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and tax credits desperately needed by families suffering. The legislation includes supports expressly crafted to reach immigrant households, address historic racism, and other proactive steps to improve equity in federal policy and access to fundamental needs.

We urge the Congress to swiftly pass the legislation needed to enact the American Rescue Plan. We applaud the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Lofgren, Rep. Lee, and the many members of the Agriculture, Education & Labor, Ways & Means, and other Committees advancing this legislative package.

It is also clear, however, that much more will be needed given the magnitude of this crisis. Right now, hunger is at tragic, unprecedented levels that demand a proportionate, ongoing response by policymakers.

As of late December, food insecurity has spiked to more than 25% of California households – that’s some 10 million people, and 2.5 times higher than before COVID-19. Even worse, there are deep racial and ethnic disparities, with 34.9% of Latinx and nearly 40% (38.6%) of Black households with kids facing long-term, irreparable harm from hunger.

The American Rescue Plan is estimated to cut child poverty in half, a generational advance toward a more just society. Many of the provisions are short-term, however, and we know from the Great Recession that it took a decade for food insecurity to return to pre-Recession levels. We must learn from past mistakes and we must do better, because access to food is a basic human right.  We look forward to working with the Administration and Congressional leaders to maximize this pivotal moment to mitigate hunger now and take steps towards a hunger-free future for all Californians.

Summary of Key Provisions in the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021

SNAP / CalFresh

  • Extends the 15% boost in benefits for three months, from the end of June through the end of September 2021
  • Provides $1 billion for administrative expenses, recognizing the extraordinary costs and impacts to state and county administrators managing the program through the crisis

Child Nutrition

  • Extends Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) for any school year the public health emergency declaration is in place, and allows P-EBT to provide benefits during the summer months following that school year. This will provide critical aid this coming summer and beyond
  • More than $800 million for WIC, including increasing the benefit to $35 per month for purchasing produce, and funds to improve outreach and modernize the program
  • Allows the Child and Adult Care Food Program to serve children up to age 25 at emergency homeless shelters for the duration of the public health emergency

Emergency Food & Agriculture

  • $3.6 billion to the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase and distribute food to those in need, including through delivery to nonprofit organizations and through restaurants and other food related entities that can store, process, and distribute food items
    • Funds can also be used to make grants and loans for small and midsize food processors or distributors to improve food supply chain resilience
  • $500 million for Community Facility Program to help rural hospitals and communities improve access to COVID-19 vaccines and food assistance
  • $1 Billion and Farm Loan Assistance for community-based organizations, 1890 Land Grant, and other institutions that work with Black farmers and other farmers of color to address historic inequities in land access, financial training, heirs property, and other issues

Older Adult Food Programs

  • $37 million to support the Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • $750 million for Older Americans Act programs, such as Meals on Wheels

Income Supports

  • Direct payments up to $1,400 per adult and child, ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments
  • Extends temporary federal unemployment benefits through August 29, 2021. Increases the weekly benefit from $300 to $400

Child Tax Credit

  • Value of credit raised to $3,000 for kids age 6-17 and $3,600 for age 6 and under
  • Credit is made fully refundable for families with a tax liability below the value of the credit
  • Phase outs begin for heads of households earning $112,500 annually and married couples earning $150,000

Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Value of credit for workers without dependents is increased from $530 to $1,500
  • Age eligibility for taxpayers without dependents lowered from 25 to 19
  • Income eligibility threshold increased from $16,000 to $21,000

More information about the Budget Reconciliation Legislation to advance the American Rescue Plan:

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