For Hunger Action Week, Advocates Press for More Funding
Monday, May 9, 2022
It's Hunger Action Week, and activists are asking lawmakers to use California's wealth for the people's health - and harness the budget surplus to battle food insecurity.
Advocates hope to phone and zoom with all 120 members of the State Assembly and Senate. Their top priority is the Food 4 All bill (SB 464), which would extend CalFresh food assistance to undocumented people of all ages.
Frank Tamborello is executive director of Hunger Action Los Angeles.
"With the double hit of food-price inflation coupled with an expected reduction in public benefits due to the pandemic emergency being lifted pretty soon," said Tamborello, "it's a critical moment to take up our legislators and tell them that they need to use the state surplus to alleviate the continued suffering."
Pandemic-induced poverty has not abated. Statistics show that one in five Californians still struggle with food insecurity.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's budget proposal would put $50 million toward the CalFood program, which helps food banks to purchase California-grown foods.
Becky Silva, senior policy advocate with the California Association of Food Banks, said she hopes it gets bumped up to $120 million in the May 15 budget revise.
"A lot of our food banks are still saying that they're serving double the number of people," said Silva, "sometimes even triple the number of people pre-pandemic."
Wes Saver, senior policy manager with the GLIDE Center for Social Justice in San Francisco, said he would like the state to implement a planned increase for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in 2023 instead of 2024.
"Despite the federal and state interventions, food insecurity in California remains with really deep inequities in communities of color," said Saver. "More than a quarter of Black and Latinx families reported food insecurity, which is double the rate of white families."
Todd Cunningham is an organizer with the Skid Row Food and Wellness Collaborative at the Los Angeles Community Action Network. He said this year people actually experiencing homelessness will be on the zoom calls with legislators.
"Folks who may never have had the opportunity to go to Sacramento in the past can now speak about their lived experiences," said Cunningham. "It results in more enlightened and better-informed decision-making about food policy. The people who are living day to day with the issues make the greatest impact."
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