California Association of Food Banks Condemns House Debt Ceiling Bill — An Attack on Food Access
April 27, 2023
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a debt ceiling bill (Speaker McCarthy) which aims to impose strict limitations on federal spending and will have disastrous consequences for millions of low-income Californians. The bill includes a host of harmful policies that aim to cut vital programs proven to support families struggling to meet their basic needs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program / SNAP (CalFresh), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families / TANF (CalWORKS), and Medicaid (Medi-Cal). These are among a long list of devastating cuts to cap spending and weaken critically needed safety-net programs proven as some of our most powerful and cost-effective tools to prevent poverty-related hunger.
CalFresh currently helps 5 million Californians struggling to put food on the table by providing modest monthly benefits to purchase food at grocery stores and farmers markets. In 2022, CalFresh delivered $900 million in economic activity in California; every $1 in SNAP benefits generates as much as $1.80 in economic activity during an economic downturn. It supports local businesses and creates jobs. By cutting funding for SNAP, the debt ceiling bill will not only harm older adults and families by taking food away, but also undermine the overall health of our economy — an especially harmful outcome on top of the mounting hunger cliff.
Some of the most damaging elements of the bill include provisions to:
Federal budget negotiations should not hold public assistance programs like SNAP/CalFresh hostage. Ensuring people have access to food, healthcare and basic needs are essential investments that strengthen our economy, and it is simply the right thing to do. Access to food is a basic human right.
Budgets are statements of values. We call on the Senate and President to reject this legislation and build on the historic success in preventing hunger and reducing poverty — gains achieved just two years ago — by prioritizing investments in basic needs like food and healthcare.