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California Association of Food Banks Responds to Governor’s January 2024-25 State Budget Proposal

enero 11, 2024

Yesterday, Governor Newsom released his proposed 2024–25 state budget. At a time when hunger is on the rise and similar to devastating pre-pandemic levels, we are very grateful for proposals to protect progress made to strengthen anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs that are critical for millions of Californians. 

With the ending of CalFresh Emergency Allotments in March 2023, 3 million households that rely on CalFresh to stay nourished lost an average of $180 in benefits per month — a total loss of over $500M per month statewide. Combined with still record-level food price inflation and the ending of many other COVID-era public supports, more than 1 in 4 households — or 1 in 3 households with children — are living with the toxic stress and harm of food insecurity.

Food banks across the whole state are straining to meet demand; the majority are receiving more calls from community members seeking food support, serving more people at their food distribution sites, and spending down their food purchasing budgets rapidly. Some food banks are reporting closing or scaling back some of their programming due to budget constraints

We understand the significant challenge of balancing a state budget despite the projected $37.9B deficit, and applaud Governor Newsom for prioritizing the well-being of California’s most low-income residents. In particular, we are glad to see the following proposals for new and ongoing program investments:

  • CalFood: Maintains $8M ongoing for food banks to purchase California grown and produced foods (as well as $112M and $52 in one-time funds in the 2022–23 and 2023–24 state budgets that has already been allocated).
  • CalFresh: Maintains $915,000 for automation and $15M to fund the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot. 
  • School Meals for All: Proposes $112M increase in funding for universal school meals to keep serving all children in 2024–25.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Maintains 9.2% SSP benefit increase (which augments SSI benefits), which took effect on Jan 1, 2024.
  • Medi-Cal: Maintains one-time and ongoing funding to expand full-scope Medi-Cal eligibility to income-eligible adults aged 26 to 49, regardless of immigration status, as of January 1, 2024.
  • CalWORKs: Proposes pursuing the “Work Participation Rate Pilot” in CalWORKs which is a vehicle to implement ReIMAGINE priorities, and proposes a 0.8% increase to CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payments.

In addition to these important investments, we are looking closely at proposed reversions in funding for the California Nutrition Incentive Program, Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, Community Food Hubs Program, and the CalWORKs Family Stabilization Program, as well as the proposal to withdraw $900M from the Safety Net Reserve. 

Hunger is a policy choice and a solvable problem. We urge Governor Newsom to continue his steadfast commitment to ensuring all Californians have the food they need to thrive, by protecting and strengthening investments in our food safety net like CalFresh, CalFood, and School Meals for All. Our full public policy agenda can be found here, and we look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to secure these in the final 2024–25 budget act.

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