News Update Jan 22nd 2018

January 22, 2018

  1. Send Emails to Get Sponsors for HR 1276---Closing the Meal Gap
  2. California Hunger Action Coalition Announces 2018 Priorities
  3. As Homelessness Increases, So Do Laws Against Being Homeless
  4. News from Washington DC: Weakening School Meal Standards and Taking Tips from Food Workers---Just Another Day in the Trump Administration
  5. Proposed State Measure to Strengthen Rent Control Once Again

Send Emails to Get Sponsors for HR 1276---Closing the Meal Gap

The SNAP program has been discussed by Republicans and Trump administration officials as a probable target for huge reductions in spending and tightening of restrictions.

This would be a mistake. Robust SNAP spending ensured that the Great Recession our country recently went through did not turn into as tragic of a catastrophe as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when Americans literally starved to death.  

Legislation has been introduced to push back against this cruelty and shortsightedness. Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina has introduced HR 1276 , The Closing the Meal Gap act, to strengthen the SNAP program.

Representative Adams’ proposal would base SNAP benefits on a Low Cost Food Plan, updated over the 1950s era Thrifty Food Plan that presumed Americans could live off of a box of macaroni and cheese per day and feel wonderful. It would streamline some of the costly red tape (people of all parties support efficient processes) and help people with higher medical and rent costs to get sufficient benefits. It would also require states to put their money where their mouth is on providing work projects to able bodied recipients unable to find work in the regular job market.

 

SNAP  is known as CalFresh inCalifornia. Kim McCoy-Wade of the California Department of Social Services recently announced that while 4.1 million Californians receive CalFresh benefits at any given time, 5.8 million Californians benefit at some point during the year from the program.

 

Here’s a link to current California co-sponsors:  List of California Co-Sponsors of HR 1276

 

Join us in getting more California co-sponsors for this legislation. We are asking the following representatives to co sponsor this legislation:

(Please note: For emails, most of the representatives will only accept from people who live in their district. )

 

Jimmy Gomez Rep Gomez Email

Maxine Waters Rep Waters Email

Alan Lowenthal Rep Lowenthal Email

Karen Bass Rep Bass Email

 

Below is a sample email provided by the good folk of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in Washington. You can also use this email as a guide to a phone message/conversation with the representative:

 

Dear STAFF/REPRESENTATIVE,

I hope this message finds you well! I am reaching out to you with a request for co-sponsorship from REPRESENTATIVE on  HR 1276 (Closing the Meal Gap Act Act of 2017). The bill currently has 83 cosponsors, 20 of which are from California. H.R. 1276 is a commonsense bill that would strengthen and improve SNAP (known as CalFresh in California, formerly food stamps). 

The bill offers the following SNAP program improvements:

  • Permanently authorizes the standard medical deduction in every state for seniors and disabled individuals applying for SNAP benefits at a minimum of $140.  Individuals with high expenses could continue to apply for a higher, itemized medical deduction.
  • Incorporates the Low-Cost Food Plan into the SNAP formula to take into account how much working people, including SNAP recipients, spend on food.
  • Eliminates the cap on the Excess Shelter Deduction in the SNAP formula to take into account the cost of living for SNAP recipients in areas with high rent and utilities.
  • Raises the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $25 per month.
  • Allows Able-Bodied Adults to be exempt from SNAP work requirements if their state cannot provide them with a slot in a SNAP Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T).

If you have questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact Katherine Stewart (katherine.stewart@mail.house.gov) who staffs this bill in Representative Alma Adams office.


California Hunger Action Coalition Announces 2018 Priorities

If you want to dig into the “red meat” of food policy, join the statewide California Hunger Action Coalition in pushing for the following priorities. Stay tuned for local trainings sponsored by Hunger Action LA and send an email to frank@hungeractionla.org if you’re interested in helping this legislation get passed, and/or participating in Hunger Action Day 2018. This year’s Day(s) are May 15-16 (if you choose the unforgettable bus trip to Sacramento). Below are the major state legislative items on the agenda for this year:

 

 

+                Provide a state-funded supplemental nutrition benefit for CalFresh to restore the erosion to the purchasing power of the program caused by Congressional inaction.

+                Double the ‘Fresh’ in CalFresh: establish the Fruit and Vegetable EBT pilot program to earn and redeem benefits via EBT at grocery stores and farmers’ markets. See Double the Fresh

+                Expand CalFresh Transitional Benefits to prevent hunger in the transition from welfare-to-work.

+                Ensure successful rollout of CalFresh time limit in counties without a waiver, to prevent hunger among low-income Californians who are out of work.

+                Fund the CalFood Program at $20.6 million to enable California food banks to purchase 103 million meals of California grown foods.

+     Ensure that low-income public charter school students, like all other public school students, are guaranteed access to a free or reduced-price, nutritious school meal.

+                Improve the state-funded special needs supplemental nutrition benefit for low-income children with dietary restrictions, and expand it to children impacted by unsafe water or lead poisoning.

                  Poverty

+     Raise Supplemental Security Income (SSI) grants above the poverty level and restore the state COLA.  Take Action to Boost SSI

+                Ensure homeless Californians have a “Right to Rest” and to share food without fear of harassment, citation or arrest.  California Right to Rest Act 2018

+                Establish a floor for CalWORKs grants to protect families from deep poverty and restore the CalWORKs 60-month clock.    

+                Establish a long-term plan to end hunger in California and create a more just food system.

+     Provide a safe working environment and adequate housing for California farm workers.


As Homelessness Increases, So Do Laws Against Being Homeless

Volunteers in a Southern California city near San Diego face misdemeanor charges for handing out food to the homeless. Police in El Cajon arrested around 12 people from the “Break The Ban” group who were distributing food and other items to the city’s homeless population at Wells Park on Sunday afternoon (Jan 14th), according to multiple press reports.

 

Officers alleged that the group’s members were violating a ban on sharing food in city-owned public spaces, which the El Cajon City Council introduced in October 2017 to stop an outbreak of Hepatitis A

 

El Cajon Volunteers Arrested for Sharing Food with Hungry People

 

An op-ed on the situation: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-el-cajon-feeding-homeless-arrests-20180116-story.html

 

Meanwhile in Orange County, law enforcement has begun to clear out encampments along the Santa Ana river, with the 500 to 1,000 residents having no idea where to go. Orange County has struggled to add enough beds for its burgeoning homeless population.

 

Homeless Evicted from Riverbed in OC

 

The Right to Rest Act is being re introduced in 2018. It’s a counterbalance to the 820 ordinances, many of them unconstitutional, that have been implemented in the largest cities in California, against sleeping in cars, sharing food, being on the sidewalk, etc. and other things that homeless people as biological entities are forced to do when squeezed out of the “mainstream” way of doing things. Here’s this year’s bill:

 

California Right to Rest Act 2018

 

 

In LA, a call is out for 8,000 volunteers to count the homeless population, with the work  beginning tomorrow Jan 23. You can register for the homeless count in Los Angeles county:

 

https://www.theycountwillyou.org/  (For Jan 23 San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel Valleys:  Jan 24 South Bay/Harbor Cities, East LA County and West LA County: and Jan 25 Antelope Valley, Metro and South LA)

 

Register for Jan 26 Metro Area Count (Special 5 to 9:30 am session with United Way)


News from Washington DC: Weakening School Meal Standards and Taking Tips from Food Workers---Just Another Day in the Trump Administration

From Center for Science in the Public Interest: “USDA wants to weaken school nutrition standards by waiting three more years to reduce salt in school meals. Already, nine out of ten American kids eat too much salt. Don't let the Trump Administration subject our children to higher risks of future heart attacks and strokes simply to appease special interests. The deadline to oppose this plan is January 29. Sign the petition now to tell USDA to do its job and protect children's health. “

Sign the petition now to tell USDA to do its job and protect children's health. 

Taking tips from workers: The Department of Labor wants to rescind Obama-era rules that barred employers from seizing their workers' tips. Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute found that the change could cost tipped workers overall $5.8 billion a year. Study co-author Heidi Shierholz says women would take 80 percent of the hit.

"Tipped workers are going to see a huge hit to their take home pay, and employers will be enriched because the vast majority of tipped workers are women,” she states. “Because women earn lower wages, they are far more disproportionately harmed by this rule."
Report: Tipping Rule Change Would Cost Women $4.6 Billion

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is pushing for legislation in New York that would eliminate the “lower tier” category for tipped workers (essentially giving them less than minimum wage) and give a true minimum wage for restaurant workers. The subminimum wage system is directly connected with the high rates of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry---highest of all U.S. industries.


Proposed State Measure to Strengthen Rent Control Once Again

From our colleagues at ACCE and AIDS Healthcare Network:

We are asking your organization to join us in working to keep people in their homes and stem the tide of displacement by ENDORSING THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACT, a ballot measure that will pave the way for strong rent control.  Long-time residents, particularly Black and Brown folks, are being pushed out of their communities.  Families are being torn apart.  Every day more people are pushed onto the streets.  We, as people of conscious, must fight to keep people in their homes and expand the supply of housing that is affordable to low income and working families. 

Strong Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction laws are the way to keep people in their homes now, while we work to get more (truly) affordable housing built.  In order to have strong Rent Control laws, we need to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a state law which ties the hands of local government.  Costa-Hawkins prevents cities and counties from applying rent control to apartments built after 1995 or to single-family rental units.  It also allows landlords to raise the rent as much as they want when a unit becomes vacant. 

ACCE, the Eviction Defense Network and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, together with dozens of other organizations, are taking this issue to the people. ENDORSE THIS EFFORT, pick up petitions and ….let’s get this started!

Endorse the Affordable Housing Act Nov 2018 Ballot Measure

For more information, contact Amy aschur@calorganize.org or (213) 804-3161



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