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In our nation of wealth, no one should go hungry. We call on the California Congressional Delegation to take decisive action to end hunger and advocate for policies that address the systemic poverty facing our state.
Over the past several years, the federal government has attempted to change the eligibility rules to the CalFresh program. If enacted, these rule changes would create even deeper hunger in our state. We are working to prevent them from changing.
The federal government attempted to make CalFresh a public charge which would have negatively impact immigrants ability to both enter the country or gain permanent residency / citizenship and access nutrition benefits.
In November 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the federal administration, halting the rule change, and concluding that the public charge rule causes financial harm to states and doesn’t promote self-sufficiency.
The chilling effect of this rule change has resulted in many immigrants relinquishing benefits and relying on food banks for groceries.
Historically, this requirement was waived in some regions hard hit by the Recession but the waivers have since expired, meaning if this rule change takes effect hundreds of thousands of Californians could soon lose their benefits.
If enacted, the rule will impact basic food assistance for an estimated 700,000 Californians that are struggling to find work. This is a cut of historic proportions, the largest since the 1996 “Welfare Reform” Act. Contrary to the USDA’s rationale, in reality, this rule does not promote self-sufficiency, wellbeing, or economic mobility. Rather it targets our community members – like veterans and the formerly incarcerated – with the greatest barriers to work by making these individuals hungrier and poorer.
In November 2020, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down the ABAWD rule.
If Categorical Eligibility takes effect, approximately 170,000 children may lose school meals. Not only will the proposed rule change increase food insecurity and incidences of hunger among low-income working families with children, it will also exacerbate the “cliff effect” that forces families off of aid when they improve earnings before they meet their food needs.
In reality, this would force people to choose between paying their utilities and purchasing food, and disproportionately and detrimentally impact people with disabilities and older adults.
California anti-hunger advocates ask our Delegation to support bold proposals that protect and strengthen the child nutrition programs, and prioritize investments in low-income children. Any investments, however, must be made without undermining programs serving low-income communities.
Nearly half of California’s children live in or near poverty, the highest of any state. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the most important child hunger program. The 2018 Farm Bill that rejected SNAP time limits for families with children and gutting Broad Based Categorical Eligibility was a key victory against childhood hunger. Yet, with so many children experiencing hunger, we cannot simply protect the status quo. Child nutrition programs have not been improved since the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.