Welcome: Hunger Action Los Angeles (HALA) is a nonprofit organization working to end hunger and promote healthy eating through community education, outreach, networking, and empowerment of low income people to speak on issues that affect their lives directly.
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Hunger Action LA is continuing two of its major projects in 2013, and hopefully expanding them. One is the Market Match program, providing bonus coupons to low income consumers at 13 farmers markets in LA County. To find out more and see a list of the markets go to www.hungeractionla.org/marketmatch
The Peoples Guide: The second is the Peoples Guide to Welfare Health and Other Services, the 68 page newsprint booklet summarizing many key programs including job training, CalWORKs, CalFresh, MediCal, other low cost health insurance, housing rights, and more. We plan on having an updated version out by June. There are still some 2012 edition copies left: for more information go to www.hungeractionla.org/peoplesguide
Hunger Action Day: HALA is also gearing up along with numerous colleague organizations around the state for Hunger Action Day, which will be Wednesday May 22 in Sacramento at the state capitol. If you’re interested let us know and we can save you a spot on the bus for the adventurous ride up the day before (Tuesday May 21) from an as-yet-unknown central location.
Federal Level: The most important anti-hunger issues are actually income support issues---Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (“Medi-Cal” here in California.) While not concerned directly with food, these programs provide income, or provide money-saving health care, allowing people to put more in their food budget. If you haven’t been living in a cave far from the reach of electronic media (lucky you), then you are aware that much hype is being generated about these programs “going broke” and vast cuts being necessary to “protect” them.
Directly on the food front, the nation’s largest anti hunger program is SNAP, now serving about 46 million Americans. California ranks last in enrolling potentially eligible participants. Pressure is on Congress to make budget cuts, and SNAP is now an $80 billion program. At various points throughout the year cuts to this vital program may be proposed as part of the general federal budget or part of the Farm Bill (which as its name implies also funds subsidy programs to agriculture.)
On the state level, the largest issue again is the budget and its income support and health related programs. Thanks to Proposition 30 enough new revenue is predicted to actually give California a surplus for the first time in recent memory. Advocates are hoping to restore funding that’s been lost from nearly annual cuts to CalWORKs (cash aid to families with children), In Home Supportive Services, and dental care for seniors getting Medi-Cal. The governor so far has insisted that although there won’t be any cuts, there won’t be any restorations either. (if you heard his “State of the State” speech on Thursday, you know he intends to toe a tight line on the budget.)
Two state legislative proposals related to CalFresh (California’s SNAP program) that did not succeed last year, will be back in probably slightly altered form. Both proposals would expand the number of people receiving CalFresh benefits and thereby bring more federal dollars into California’s ailing economy, while helping some of the 4 million estimated people not getting enough to eat in our state.
One is a revival of a bill to remove the lifetime ban on people with certain drug felonies from getting the benefits. The other bill will align CalFresh with MediCal, allowing low income people who get health insurance to also qualify for some food assistance.
Another bill of interest is described later in this update, the Homeless Bill of Rights . Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proposed Assembly Bill 5, better known as the “Homeless Bill of Rights” to give legal protection to homeless people who engage in life-sustaining activities on public property. It’s based on a similar law that passed recently in Rhode Island. Various California cities have passed laws intended to sweep homeless people off the street or force them to move away from downtown areas that are being “gentrified.” Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have laws criminalizing behavior one is forced to engage in if homeless. Ammiano’s proposed bill would decriminalize behavior such as sleeping in public places, congregating, urinating, and panhandling.
It would also legalize feeding people in public places, an activity which City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jan Perry attempted to criminalize in downtown Los Angeles.
On the city level, urban agriculture advocates will continue to work for policy changes allowing people to grow food on parkways and other areas, and very soon we will also hear on proposals to legalize and regulate street vending, a major source of income for families in many parts of the city, but technically illegal now.
To find out more about these and other anti-hunger issues, contact: email@example.com
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Frank Tamborello, Director for Hunger Action Los Angeles, describes the importance of educating consumers with food policy issues in order to improve the system.
“Uprising” morning show
as well as on the “Lawyer’s Guild” show the same day: