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Fighting hunger during a pandemic: ABAWD rule blocked from going into effect

March 24, 2020

Prior to the emergence of COVID-19 as a global health crisis, the California Association Food Banks and our anti-hunger partners were mobilizing to prevent the implementation of a three-month time limit on nutrition assistance benefits for individuals deemed “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents” (ABAWDs): adults aged 18-49 who have well-documented barriers to employment, or proving employment. We had been pushing back against this harmful rule for months, and it was set to take effect April 1, but was being litigated in court. If the rule had gone into effect as planned, it would impact 400,000 Calfiornians in the first year alone.

On March 13, we were thankful that federal judge Beryl Howell ruled to block the ABAWD rule from going into effect nationwide, and were even more grateful that the ruling happened just before California sent out notices letting everyone know it was forthcoming on April 1 — a move certain to cause disruptions and confusion.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to accelerate daily, states implement shelter-in-place orders, and mass layoffs ripple through our communities, this injunction is especially prudent. 

We are grateful to Judge Howell for standing with the growing number of hungry community members, with us, and with Congress, who already rejected such time limitations on nutrition benefits. Throughout this crisis and beyond – we will continue fighting alongside our partners to protect all Californians’ right to nourishment. 

Check out our ABAWD resource page for more information.

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