Policy Focus Areas
We focus our policy work on the 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.
Since day one, we’ve 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.
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. We continue to work with CalVolunteer to ensure that food banks’ staffing needs are known at the highest levels.
Immediately, we worked to ensure that food banks were classified as “essential” under State’s guidance and regulations. We continue to make sure that food banks’ work is properly classified under the evolving guidelines.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
This was first authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) for children who were eligible for the Free or Reduced Price Meal program, and were enrolled in a school that was closed for 5+ days due to the pandemic. It was designed to cover lost school meals and it served close to 4M children. You can see CDSS’ outcomes report for more details on the impact of P-EBT for these months.
CDSS was approved to provide P-EBT again for the months of August and September, through their “P-EBT Extension” plan. This round of P-EBT benefits will be mailed automatically to families who already received P-EBT in the first round of P-EBT. There will not be an application process, because it is only for children who already received P-EBT previously.
The Federal Continuing Resolution signed by the President in October 2020 authorized another round of P-EBT, to cover the 2020-2021 school year from October onwards. This round of P-EBT – or, “P-EBT 2.0” – makes newly eligible younger children who are in child care settings, in addition to children in school who are eligible for the Free or Reduced Price Meal program. For the younger children, they must meet the following criteria:
The Farm Bill is the leading legislative driver of our nation’s food and farming policy. The Farm Bill is reauthorized approximately every five years and sets food and agricultural policy that provides a safety net for our country’s agricultural producers and helps our low-income communities put food on the table, including funding CalFresh benefits.
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.
SAWS stands for the Statewide Automated Welfare System. There are currently three SAWS (information technology) systems being used by counties in California to conduct the business of benefits eligibility, determinations, and maintenance for people seeking social safety net supports. California is working 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 are migrated to that system, have foundational impacts on the way consumers and eligibility workers access and experience services.
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.
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 will go into effect on January 1, 2022. The full implementation schedule is here.
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 are advocating to extend the sunset of this highly successful Tax Credit by another 5 years, to 2027.
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 $910.74, 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).