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Family or Food? California Food Banks Respond to Public Charge

October 12, 2018

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security published the proposed rule on public charge. The proposed rule signficantly expands the list of programs to be considered in immigration public charge,including public benefits like SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D and housing assistance that help low-income families meet basic needs like food, healthcare and housing–forcing immigrant families to make impossible choices between meeting basic needs and keeping their families together. 

Every day, food banks serve on the front lines of hunger, but we could never meet the need in our communities without a robust SNAP program, which helps  put food within reach for our state’s low-income families and helps lift over 4 million Californians out of poverty. Nationwide, federal nutrition programs provide 19 out of 20 emergency meals, yet because SNAP benefits are inadequate to last the entire month, nearly 1 in 3 households still rely on food banks to make ends meet. 5 million Californians already rely on food banks and food banks struggle to meet the current need. 

The proposed rule further builds upon the chilling effect that food banks and other emergency food providers have witnessed first-hand, with many families choosing to disenroll or forego critical health and nutrition benefits for fear of losing their legal pathway to stay in this country or being separated from their families. The rule would worsen hunger and hardship for low-income immigrant families nationwide and would have a disproportionately high impact in California, where 50 percent of California children have at least one immigrant parent–roughly 4.5 million children in California alone.

The public now has 60 days to comment on the rule. Comments are due on or before December 10th. Click here to submit your comments.

For more resources, please visit the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign and the Food Research and Action Center for resources, talking points and materials. CAFB will be sharing more resources in the coming days and we urge you to stand with California immigrant families and speak out on this harmful rule that will only increase hunger and hardship. 


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