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State Budget Safeguards Critical Anti-Hunger and Anti-Poverty Programs

junio 28, 2024

Sacramento, CA Capitol building

This week, the Legislature passed and Governor Newsom is expected to sign the Budget Act of 2024 (AB 108), and several important trailer bills, including AB 161 Human Services, which protects our state’s safety net and makes investments to support California’s most vulnerable communities.

More than 1 in 5 California households, and 1 in 4 households with children, face the toxic stress and economic uncertainty of food insecurity with deep disparities for Black and Latine households. Food banks have been responding to this increase by serving up to 20% more people over the last year, with only 4% more food to do so. Food banks simply cannot prevent hunger alone.

We commend Governor Newsom, Speaker Rivas, Pro Tem McGuire, Budget Chairs Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Gabriel, Human Services Budget Subcommittee Chairs Senator Menjivar and Assemblymember Jackson, and the Legislature for their vision and commitment to prioritizing Californians experiencing hunger and poverty today. Despite a challenging budget deficit, the final deal sets a new path by rejecting failed austerity and continuing support for low-income families by preserving California’s core anti-hunger programs:

  • State Emergency Food Bank Reserve: Permanently authorizes disaster food language to allow food banks to meet families where they are during a time of crisis
  • CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot Program: Maintains $15 million for a pilot program that will boost CalFresh benefits for many elderly and disabled households who receive woefully inadequate benefits below $50 per month. 
  • Food4All: Reallocates unused funds from this budget year to the next budget year so that automation can continue. This will help ensure that the system that delivers benefits is ready by the time the California Food Assistance Program expansion does take place. 
  • School Meals for All: Secures $1.9 billion to ensure children have access to vital meals.
  • SUN Bucks (Summer EBT): Includes $146.8 million for outreach, automation, and administration to allow California to provide an estimated $1 billion in federal food assistance for summer 2025. 
  • Diaper Banks: Invests $9 million to fund local diaper distributions for low-income families with infants and toddlers, for 11 food banks and community organizations.
  • SSI: Maintains the 9.2 percent increase to SSP grants that took place on January 1st and requires CDSS to display the SSI/SSP grant amount compared to studio apartment fair market rent by county on their website.
  • CalWORKs: Protects all core CalWORKs programs and services, and pursues the federal CalWORKs pilots.

In addition, we are thankful for the many other anti-hunger and anti-poverty priorities in the Budget Act of 2024 including new investments in the CalFresh Fruits and Vegetables EBT Pilot, protection of the Farm to School Program, and restoration of the California Nutrition Incentive Program (Market Match) investment, the Work Incentive Nutrition Supplement program, senior nutrition, Lunch at the Library, the Farm to Community Food Hubs Program, and childcare slots. We also appreciate the continued work towards increasing wages for childcare and healthcare workers.

Despite these significant wins for families, we feel the budget misses a key opportunity to pursue federal CalWORKs pilots with family-centered changes that align with federal guidance calling for innovations to “re-envision” employment and training to meet family’s unique needs. It also delays Food4All for older adults regardless of immigration status to 2027, cuts Free Tax Preparation Assistance Education and Outreach grants for low-income tax credits in half to $10M, and draws down the entire $900M Safety Net Reserve over the two-year budget window. We look forward to future advocacy efforts on these issues. 

Throughout this challenging budget year, we have been fortunate to work alongside our member food banks, anti-hunger partners, and advocates across California to uplift many of the priorities included in the final State budget. We thank them for their partnership as well as the Governor and Legislature for listening to our communities and maintaining key investments in school meals, CalFresh, CalWORKs, childcare, and SSI. We look forward to continuing to work with California leadership to help those in need by setting a $60M baseline for ongoing CalFood funding, making the CalFresh Minimum Pilot a permanent statewide program, and protecting Californians from ineffective Federal ABAWD time limits.

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