This morning, the Senate released their bold “Protect Our Progress” Senate Budget Plan, which lays out a very ambitious framework for addressing record levels of hunger and poverty that California is facing today. This ambitious plan centers the lives of California’s most vulnerable residents in its vision, and prioritizes investments that will help us achieve a hunger-free California that we know is possible.
In particular, we are grateful for the recognition of the ongoing hunger-crisis caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and ending of CalFresh Emergency Allotments on March 26. While 1 in 5 Californians still experience the toxic stress and health impacts of food insecurity, 5 million Californians this month have stopped receiving the critical boost to their CalFresh benefits that had raised every CalFresh recipient’s benefits by an average of $82 per month. This represents a loss of $500 million per month in food benefits statewide.
We are grateful that the Senate Budget plan proposes many important, and some long sought after, investments into anti-hunger programs that will help to mitigate harm:
- Establish $50 as the new CalFresh minimum, up from the current $23
- Establish CalFresh ABAWD CARE benefits to protect Californians from harsh Federal ABAWD time-limit rules
- Fully implement and leverage the new Summer-EBT program starting in 2024 to protect children from summer hunger when school is out
- Ensure that SSI recipients have equity in their CalFresh benefit amounts
- Expansion of Food for All (California Food Assistance Program) to all undocumented Californians regardless of age
- Improvement to EBT card security to protect CalFresh and CalWORKs households from skimming and theft
- Continue to build on success of School Meals for All and augment Kitchen Infrastructure and Training (KIT) funds
In addition, we are grateful for budget priorities to support the basic needs of low-income Californians, including:
- Set a minimum CalEITC amount at $275 beginning with the 2023 tax year
- Increase to Child Care Rates to support child care workers
- Protect increase to SSP grants set in the Budget Act of 2022 agreement
- Increase in funding for basic needs, rapid rehousing, disabled students support, and mental health supportive services for CCC, CSU, and UC students
- Provide $20 for CalWORKs recipients to cover costs of menstrual products
- Ongoing funding for the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP)
- Expand unemployment insurance coverage for excluded workers
In addition to these important priorities, we call on the Legislature and Governor to protect and continue ongoing investments in California’s highly effective network of food banks, to ensure they have the resources they need to serve their communities:
We are looking forward to working with budget leaders in the weeks ahead to achieve these priorities in the final 2023-24 state budget.
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