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Policy Focus Areas

We focus our policy work on these key areas.

Ending hunger is no small challenge. Food banks play a critical role, but we can’t do it alone. Fighting hunger is not only about providing emergency food to people in need — it also means taking action to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Together with our food bank network we are committed to advocating for anti-hunger programs and policies at the federal, state and local levels.

Food Bank Support

We work to ensure that the State of California invests in our food banks & understands the critical role they play in California’s social safety net.


For years, we have successfully secured funding in the Governor budget for CalFood. This $8M allocation of funds is provided to food banks annually to purchase California produced food. We continue to advocate to increase the baseline funding from $8M to $60M.


Twice now, we have secured funding for food banks to make one time purchase that enhance their operations. This $25M has allowed food banks to purchase more or newer trucks, cold storages, forklifts, and so much more.

Disaster Resilience

Feeding communities when we need it most.

Food Bank Response

Disasters have become the new normal across the state and immigrants, farm workers, and other low-income Californians experience disproportionate consequences. Whether natural disaster like fires or earthquakes, or man-made crises like the 2019 federal shutdown and public service power shutoffs, food banks are on the responding to need for food, and remain long after to keep Californians healthy and well-fed.

We continue to advocate for funding to support our food banks’ disaster relief work.
State Emergency Food Bank Reserve

Disaster CalFresh

Disaster CalFresh (D-CalFresh), federally known as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), is a way to meet the temporary nutritional needs of disaster victims following a natural disaster.

D-CalFresh is only available when all of the following elements occur:

Advocacy resources and materials:

For additional information, visit the following websites:

Child Nutrition

Working to ensure no child goes to school hungry.

Every five years, Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) provides Congress with the opportunity to strengthen and increase investments in the child nutrition and school meals programs that not only improve the health and nutrition of millions of  low-income children and families but also provide critical educational and enrichment activities that support children’s development and wellbeing. These programs include the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), After school and Summer Nutrition Programs, WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Child Nutrition Legislation:

You can view a full list of 2024 Child Nutrition federal priorities here.

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT)

Pandemic EBT (or P-EBT) was a temporary federal program that gave families food benefits per eligible child on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card due to meals lost at childcare or school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT provided California families with 10 billion dollars in food benefits. P-EBT 1.0 was issued for the 2019-2020 school year. You can read CAFB’s P-EBT in California: Lessons and Opportunities Report to learn more about the impact of the first round of P-EBT. Due to the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, P-EBT 4.0 was the last round of P-EBT issued for the 2022-2023 school year and summer 2023. You can learn more about the last round of P-EBT 4.0 here.

You can see CDSS’ outcomes reports for more details on the impact of P-EBT 1.0-4.0:

Summer EBT

In 2023, California became the first state in the country to opt-in to Summer EBT, a new federal program authorized in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2617) that advocates from California had long fought for alongside Rep. Levin. Thanks to swift planning by the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Education, beginning in summer 2024, an estimated 5.1 million eligible children will receive $40 per month ($120 total) in Summer EBT benefits. This will allow families to shop at their local grocery store and put food on the table while school’s out. 

Visit our SUN Bucks page to learn more about this food benefit program.

CalFresh (SNAP)

CalFresh is our best defense against hunger.

CalFresh is a federal nutrition program that lets people buy food at their local grocery store with a Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Nationally, it is known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We continue to advocate for federal and state policies that strengthen this program.

CalSAWS Migration

SAWS stands for the Statewide Automated Welfare System. There used to be three SAWS (information technology) systems used by counties in California to conduct the business of benefits eligibility, determinations, and maintenance for people seeking social safety net support. California worked in partnership with the federal government to consolidate the existing three consortia systems and functionality into one single system: California Statewide Automated Welfare System (CalSAWS).

The CalSAWS system, and the means by which operations and information have migrated and are currently implemented in that system, have foundational impacts on the way consumers and eligibility workers access and experience services. CAFB leads a CalSAWS Advocates Group to support the success of CalSAWS and its impact on CBOs and customers.

Food Recovery

Preventing good food from going to waste.

Sometimes – no matter how carefully farmers, producers, retailers, or individuals plan –  they are faced with the hard decision of what to do with surplus food. And every day all across California, people are faced with hard times and need a little help to put food on their dinner table. We believe it is our role to connect these dots where we can, and ensure that families and individuals have access to fresh, nourishing food in their communities.

SB 1383

The environmental legislation SB 1383 sets the landmark statewide edible food recovery requirement. Specifically, the law requires California to recover no less than 20% of edible food that would otherwise be disposed, to help feed people by 2025. This is a statewide goal, but local jurisdictions – your cities or county, depending on their approach – will implement plans to achieve the goal.

The new rules went into effect on January 1, 2022. The full implementation schedule is here.  

We have developed a Q&A document for food banks, and CalRecycle has developed model tools that food banks and local jurisdictions can use. 

Farm to Family Tax Credit

Many California producers want to do their part to alleviate hunger in their communities, but fluctuating food prices and tight operating margins can make it difficult. Right now, California has state legislation that allows some growers to claim a 15% state tax credit on the qualified wholesale value of donated fruits, vegetables, proteins, starches, and other food items. This tax credit helps enable producers to donate food products to California food banks and get nourishing food into the hands of individuals, children, and families.

In 2011, CAFB led the advocacy to pass AB 152 (Fuentes), which established the Farm to Family Tax Credit to incentivize growers of fruits and vegetables in California to donate surplus product to food banks. 

In 2016, language was passed in the state budget process which created several improvements to the Tax Credit. 1) The credit was shifted from the inventoried cost of food to the wholesale value, 2) the credit was raised from 10 percent to 15 percent, 3) the sunset of the Tax Credit was extended by five years to 2022. 

In 2019, AB 614 (Eggman) was passed that expanded the types of qualifying California-grown foods from just fruits and vegetables, to include other products like grains, dairy, and protein. 

In the 2020-21 legislative cycle, we successfully advocated to extend the sunset of this highly successful Tax Credit by another 5 years, to 2027.


Attacking hunger and its root causes from all angles.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, or ‘SSI,’ is a federally funded program that provides a modest monthly benefit to low-income people who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled. In California, the SSI payment is augmented by a State Supplementary Payment, or ‘SSP,’ which brings the maximum monthly benefit for an individual living alone to $1,183, an amount that forces many low-income seniors and people with disabilities to live in poverty. 

As of June 1st, 2019, SSI/SSP recipients are eligible to apply for CalFresh, as is the case in every other state in the country. This presents a tremendous opportunity to increase food security for this population, and it will require a coordinated effort between the state, counties, and advocates alike.

We are an active participant in the Californians for SSI coalition.


Historically, immigrant Californians with a federally assigned Individual Taxpayer Identification Number were excluded from the CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit.

In September 2020, Governor Newsom signed landmark legislation that that ends the exclusion of immigrant workers earning $30,000 or less who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which includes undocumented workers and immigrants with student visas, from the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). 

We are an active participant in the CalEITC coalition.

COVID-19 Response

We did our part to nourish California through a pandemic.

Food Supply

Since day one, we worked to ensure that food banks were supported at the state and federal levels — including successfully partnering with the California Department of Social Services to establish an Emergency Food Box Program.

Workforce Support

Right away, we knew food banks needed workforce support to be able to get food out the door. We immediately requested that Governor Newsom deploy the National Guard to help support hunger relief efforts.


Immediately, we worked to ensure that food banks were classified as “essential” under State’s guidance and regulations.

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