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California Legislature Advances Landmark Anti-Hunger Investments

June 4, 2021

CA Food Banks Urges Governor Newsom to Adopt Proposals to Make Historic Progress Toward a Hunger Free California

Last night, the state Senate and Assembly Budget Committees voted to advance their proposals for the 2021 Budget Act. These include several policies that will make critical progress fighting the record hunger still causing pain and hardship across our state.

The simple fact is that the hunger crisis is far from over: food banks and the millions of Californians we serve need continued state support. Census data released yesterday showed that the most critical form of hunger actually increased to more than 10% of Californians. This is nearly triple the pre-pandemic rate. 

We are thrilled that the Legislature’s proposals include our primary requests to support California’s food banks who continue to face unprecedented demand from the ongoing hunger crisis unleashed by COVID-19, as well as historic investments in our broader policy priorities that together make steps toward a hunger-free future for California.

Sincere thanks to Budget Chairs Senator Skinner and Assemblymember Ting, Speaker Rendon, Pro Tem Atkins, the Budget Subcommittee Chairs, and our legislative champions who have been true leaders on these critical issues. 

“We are excited and grateful for the actions taken in the Legislature, because hungry families can’t wait. We appreciate all that the Governor continues to do to support food banks and hungry Californians through the duration of COVID-19 crisis. With hunger still at record levels, we ask the Administration to support these actions that build on the May Revision, furnish food banks with the resources they need to respond to an ongoing hunger crisis, and make a historic advance toward ending hunger in California.” 

Andrew Cheyne, director of government affairs

Here is a partial summary of anti-hunger proposals the Budget Committees advanced:

  • School meals for all – Sen. Skinner
    • Ensure school meals for all pupils, support healthy California grown foods, and invest in school nutrition workforce and kitchens while preventing debt for districts or families.
  • SSP grant increase
    • $600M annually to make significant progress toward reversing Great Recession cuts. CAFB renews our call to end poverty for SSI recipients.
  • Prevent the lifetime loss of food aid in the CalFresh Expansion hold harmless programs
  • Expansion of the Diaper assistance program – Asm. Gonzalez
    • Pilot menstrual products through food banks
  • Expansion of the California Food Assistance Program to advance food for all – Sen. Hurtado 
  • Many investments in CalFresh including:
    • Simplified application for seniors and telephonic access – Sen. Wiener
    • Equitable Consumer Compensation – Asm. Calderon
    • Support for counties to continue the CalFresh expansion to higher education students and implement CalFresh program simplifications
  • Several improvements to CalWORKs including the income disregard and pregnancy aid
  • Advance health equity through Health for all older adults, eliminating the asset test penalizing “senior savings,” and other improvements in Medi-Cal
  • Raising rates, expanding slots, and other improvements to child care
  • Eliminating finds, reducing debt, and improving reentry that have proven to trap low-income families in food insecurity

Despite the combined impact of these proposals, we were disappointed not to see AB 221 (Santiago) included. This would provide food benefits to immigrant Californians excluded by CalFresh, and is still greatly needed given the ongoing chilling effect from public charge. We applaud Asm. Santiago’s leadership and the bipartisan Assembly floor vote on AB 221, and ask that this be enacted.

We again offer our appreciation to Governor Newsom for all of the State’s support for food banks during this crisis, and the many impactful proposals in the May Revisions. We ask the Administration to support these and other actions taken by the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees that build on the May Revision, and look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure their inclusion in the 2021 Budget Act. 

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