Food Justice News April 2, 2021:
Advocate for State Funding for the Market Match Program
Updates on Rental Assistance in Los Angeles
- Advocate for State Funding for the Market Match Program
Market Match has proven to be a critical avenue for affordable healthy food for CalFresh participants all over California, going on its 11th year as a program. During the pandemic, we’ve seen up to 50% increases or more at the 30 or so participating farmers markets in Los Angeles. We have a chance to ensure robust funding to continue the program and maintain the bounty of farm fresh produce serving low income people, accomplishing the multiple goals of ending hunger, promoting healthy eating, supporting the small farm economy, and contributing to sustainable agriculture.
The statewide group of Market Match organizations is supporting a one-time appropriation of $20 million in the 2021-22 state budget to support the Market Match program through 2025. This will help us match the federal funding and continue the great Market Match programs we’ve built up here in LA County.
We are asking supporters to advocate with an email to your state Assemblymember or Senator on the target list, who are on the Budget Committee.
Step One: Do you have one of these legislators serving the area that your market serves
We are targeting these Assemblymembers and Senators , because they’re on the budget committee that will make the decision to include this money: Take a look at this list and at the link to the district map. If you live in that district or your market is in that district, please email your legislator!
Assemblymember or Senator Area they cover and link to district map
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon South Gate, Paramount , just outside of HP https://speaker.asmdc.org/district-map
- Wendy Carillo Highland Park, Eagle Rock, East LA https://speaker.asmdc.org/district-map
- Richard Bloom Santa Monica, West Hollywood https://a50.asmdc.org/district-map
- Adrin Nazarian San Fernando Valley up to NoHo https://a46.asmdc.org/district-map
- Senator Maria Elena Durazo Echo Park, East Hollywood, part of East LA https://sd24.senate.ca.gov/district
- Asm Patrick O’ Donnell Long Beach https://speaker.asmdc.org/district-map
- Asm Reggie Jones-Sawyer South LA https://a59.asmdc.org/district-map
- Senator Sydney Kamlager Culver City, South LA, West LA https://sd30.senate.ca.gov/district
- Asm Blanca Rubio West Covina and Covina https://a48.asmdc.org/district/district-map
Easiest thing to do: Email your rep.
Here are the people to email at each office:
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
Address your email to Assemblymember Rendon and send the email to: Legislative Director: Myesha Jackson, [email protected]
Asm. Wendy Carillo
Address your email to Assemblymember Wendy Carillo and send the email to: Legislative Director: Jessica Zaragoza, [email protected]
Asm. Richard Bloom
Address your email to Assemblymember Bloom and send the email to: Legislative Director: Brady Mccarthy, [email protected]
Asm. Adrin Nazarian
Senator Maria Elena Durazo
Address your email to Senator Durazo and send the email to:
Legislative Director: Bethany Renfree, [email protected]
Asm. Blanca Rubio
Address your email to Assemblymember Rubio, Blanca and send the email to: Legislative Director: Taylor Woolfork, [email protected]
Asm Patrick O’ Donnell
Asm Reggie Jones-Sawyer
Address your email to Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer and send the email to: Legislative Director: Michael Lucien, [email protected]
Senator Sydney Kamlager
Address your email to Senator Kamlager and send the email to: Legislative Director: Nikki Johnson, [email protected]
What to Put in the Email?
- We encourage you to use the email template prepared by the Market Match Appropriations Working group.
- Remember to include attachments on your email - the Statewide Factsheet, Coalition Sign-On Letter of Support, and Statewide Impact Report.
- You can create a customized Impact Report for your district using these instructions.
(Thanks to the Ecology Center for preparing these materials)
2. Updates on Rental Assistance in Los Angeles: As of March 15, 2021
As you may know, the City of LA launched the Emergency Renter’s Assistance Program (ERAP) earlier this month.
The Mayor’s Office and HCIDLA will be hosting a Webinar on ERAP for Community-Based Organizations. Topics will include:
- An overview of the 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Renters Assistance Program
- Eligibility requirements
- Application process
- Answers to frequently asked questions
Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Time: 1:00pm- 2:00pm
Please RSVP here by Tuesday, April 13th if you or representatives from your organization would like to attend the meeting.
For Tenants and Landlords:
Have you lost income due to COVID and are behind on rent or need help paying utilities? Are you a landlord with tenants behind on rent? After a year of organizing to #CancelRent and win debt forgiveness - relief has come!!!
As of March 15, landlords and tenants can apply for rent relief through the state of California’s rental assistance program.
IF YOU’RE A TENANT: Rent debt you owe could be entirely cancelled if your landlord agrees to participate in the rent relief program, and you can apply for help paying your utilities
- You may qualify for rent relief funds if you owe rent that you could not pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. A full list of eligibility criteria is available at https://housing.ca.gov/ .
- Apply online! The application will ask for your landlord’s email address to notify your landlord to fill out their portion.
- Send this linked letter to your landlord informing them of your rights and explaining that you want them to apply for rental assistance. If your landlord agrees to apply they may receive 80% of the rent that you owe. The remaining 20% will be forgiven.
- If your landlord refuses to apply and you qualify, then you can apply for 25% of the rent owed and, as long as you pay your landlord 25% of what you owe and comply with the other requirements, you should never be evicted for the rest - it becomes consumer debt that your landlord can try to collect in small claims court.
IF YOU’RE A LANDLORD:
You may receive payment of 80% of the rent debt a tenant owes!
- You can apply online for rent relief if your tenants were unable to pay rent due to covid-19 and they qualify for the program. The application will ask for the tenant’s email address so the tenant can be notified of the application and fill out their portion. The state program will provide 80% of the rent that a tenant owes; you are required to forgive the remaining 20%.
- Per the California Apartment Association, landlords “most likely” need to accept rental assistance provided by the state program.
HOW TO APPLY:
- Both landlords and tenants can fill out the rent relief application at https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html .
- If you live in a city or county that has its own separate rent assistance program, you can apply for rent relief from your local program rather than the state site. If you begin the state application, https://www.arcgis.com/apps/instant/lookup/index.html?appid=f32435102af34d24a7420ffc432a33a6&find=Oakland%252C%2520CA%252C%2520USA a link to your local program is available here. Some of these local programs have different terms, such as covering 100% of the rental debt or lower income thresholds.
If you’re a tenant fighting an eviction - seek legal help right away! Come to one of our tenants clinics: see https://www.acceaction.org/covidevictionprotections
Thanks to : Ra'Jhon Sykes, ACCE Action http://www.acceaction.org/
Food Justice News January 8, 2021
A New Year and New Hope?
1 . Nourish CA Webinar: Food Hardship and Hope for Change, Tuesday Jan 12
2. Anti-Hunger Advocacy in Sacramento Begins! Sign up for Legislative Visits and Training, Friday Jan 15
1 . Nourish CA Webinar: Food Hardship and Hope for Change, Tuesday Jan 12
From our colleagues at Nourish California:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Before we launch into a new year of advocacy, we want to share “what we heard” from a statewide research effort that is helping inform our priorities for 2021.
Food Hardship & Hope for Change
January 12th, 1-2pm PST
Last Fall, Nourish California engaged Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) to conduct statewide research that would help illustrate food access issues across California, particularly in the context of COVID-19. Through analysis of stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and a survey of 1000 community members; the findings offer a glimpse of the lives & experiences of Californians in 2020.
Join us for a deeper dive into this summary: What We Heard: The Lives & Experiences of Californians in 2020. Lea el informe en español aquí.
The event will be conducted in English with simultaneous Spanish translation.
The Nourish California Team
2. Anti-Hunger Advocacy in Sacramento Begins! Sign up for Legislative Visits and Training, Friday Jan 15
Because of the multiple ongoing crises----the pandemic, political conflict and economic turmoil---2021 is going to be a critical year in winning government policy to help the poor and those suffering food insecurity all over the U.S. and especially here in Southern CA. And one of the simplest ways that we can all help out is through legislative advocacy, which just means “speaking up” to the people who make and change the laws of our state and the programs that it provides.
Legislative advocacy has been a powerful tool that has won access to food benefits for millions of Californians over the past 2 decades. Look no further than 2018, when a coalition of organizations and low income people statewide won the right for SSI recipients (senior, blind and disabled) to receive CalFresh food benefits, providing resources to a potential million and a half people that was implemented the following year. It made a huge difference in the lives of people who had barely had enough to eat.
Due to the COVID crisis legislative visits are being conducted virtually through video links and conference calls. We’ll be contacting our state legislators and educating them on how hunger is impacting our community and policies they can enact to improve the situation. If you would like to join in on the action right away, events are happening in the next two weeks, and you are welcome to sign up, whether you are a seasoned advocate or have never done it before!
January 15: Advocacy Training---This will be an online event. If you are interested email [email protected] and specify if you want to attend the 10 am or the 3 pm event for that day. We will provide you the link as the day gets closer. This event will review logistics for the January 19-22 January Hunger Action Week (see below) and a look at this year’s anti hunger agenda, as well as a review of basic advocacy principles and techniques.
January 19 through 22: Hunger Action Week-January (there’s one later in May as well.) Sign up for this event at [email protected] . We are setting up legislative visits for key officials in Sacramento. A good chance to learn how it’s done and begin to make your voice heard at the state capitol! The event goes all week but you do not need to participate every day; you can join in on anywhere from one legislative visit to as many as you can handle.
Food Justice News November 24, 2020:
THANKSGIVING AND BEYOND
- A Quick Look At Community Fridges
- Cooked Foods Return To LA Farmers Markets
- Advocacy Begins To Help Small LA Food Businesses
- Andy Fisher: How One Organization Can Shorten Food Bank Lines Across the United States"
- Food Chain Workers Fight For Better Safety During Pandemic
- Updates on CalFresh: Rules Made Simpler for Seniors: Court Rules Stolen Benefits Must Be Restored
- Save the Month: May 2021
- A Quick Look At Community Fridges
By now many of you are familiar with the phenomenon of community fridges. Said to have originated in New York, these fridges have popped up in different parts of LA County since June of this year, supplied by grassroots volunteers with the pandemic being a major impetus. They are a low tech and simple solution to at least part of the food waste/hunger dilemma: People with extra food can drop off food into one of the unlocked community refrigerators; those who need food can take whatever they want.
An article by Kat Hong in The Infatuation from July explains more:
No good idea ever goes unpunished and it wasn’t long before at least one LA County municipality decided that a fridge had to be shut down. The City of Whittier used the vague reason that the fridge “wasn’t in the city code” and therefore apparently, could not be allowed to exist, a rationale that would certainly prevent any new inventions from ever being legal in the city. No flying cars in the year 2050 for Whittier, I suppose; they aren’t “in the city code.”
To locate a fridge near you, check out this
Christy Moser and her daughter Giuliana, 6, add to the community refrigerator at Frank’s Auto Upholstery on Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier on Friday October 23, 2020. The community refrigerator allows people to donate food or get food 24 hours a day. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer Whittier Daily News)
2. Cooked Foods Return To LA Farmers Markets
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Allows Prepared Food Vendors to Return to Certified Farmers' Markets
Small Food Businesses and Market Operators Celebrate Decision
Prepared food vendors will begin returning to certified farmers' markets across Los Angeles County after the Department of Public Health issued an order permitting their return. The decision is being celebrated by hundreds of small food businesses throughout Los Angeles, many of which have been out of work for nearly eight months.
The order was advocated by LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who championed the cause of temporary food facilities. “Prepared food vendors are part of the fabric of Los Angeles County," said Supervisor Solis. "Yet these small businesses, often owned by residents of color, have endured profound suffering stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, in part, because they have been prohibited from serving prepared food at farmers markets. This is a matter of equity and I am pleased that, at my direction, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health now permits prepared food vendors to return to our farmers markets in LA County.”
SEE-LA and Farmer Mark were among many who petitioned for the return of the cooked food vendors, including also Hunger Action LA and the Studio City Farmers Market, who launched a change.org petition. Prepared food vendors were forced to leave farmers' markets on March 11th, when Governor Gavin Newsom called for the cancelation of community events. Across the state, departments of public health were left to interpret and grant exceptions to this ruling as they saw fit. In Orange and San Francisco Counties, markets were back to business as usual within a matter of weeks. In Los Angeles, however, packaged foods were permitted to return, while prepared foods were deemed too great a risk, even as restaurants reopened and sit-down dining resumed.. Most vendors saw their businesses wither, and went overnight from self-employed to unemployed.
This order puts hundreds of prepared food booths back in businesses. Farmers' markets and foodies across the city are celebrating.
Prepared food, allowed at restaurants during the pandemic, was banned from farmers markets in LA County from March until this past week, even though farmers markets would easily have been able to comply with distancing and other requirements
3. Advocacy Begins To Help Small LA Food Businesses
From our friends at the LA Food Policy Council, a campaign you can join to help implement LA’s Good Food Zones:
Join the Los Angeles Food Policy Council's Good Food Economy Working Group over the next month to TAKE ACTION in support of healthy food businesses. We are urging our local city officials to fund and implement the Good Food Zone Policy. The Good Food Zone is a policy adopted at the beginning of March of this year, and its purpose is to support small healthy food businesses to get the tools they need to thrive. This policy is a critical tool to help food businesses recover from the pandemic, especially in low-income communities that lack access to healthy foods. To read more about the Good Food Zone, you can read this policy brief written by the LA Food Policy Council.
We need your help taking this policy to the next level. Since the city council passed the Good Food Zone, a pandemic has ensued. Food businesses across the City have taken a hard economic hit, meaning the communities have cut to needed services. We need to pressure our elected officials to get this program funded and provide an exact timeline implemented to assist the communities impacted the most by the pandemic!
The way we have structured this, we want people to TAKE ACTION on social media or through phone calls (Call-In Google Form Sign Up) and letter writing, one day a week for the next month. Below you will find all information needed to support healthy food businesses. Please access the Tool-Kit that has been prepared by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council's Good Food Economy Working Group.
After today we will send weekly reminders. Please let us know if you have any questions.
4. Andy Fisher: How One Organization Can Shorten Food Bank Lines Across the United States"
Andrew Fisher has worked in the anti-hunger field for 25 years, as the executive director of national and local food groups, and as a researcher, organizer, policy advocate, and coalition builder. He is the author of “Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups.” In his new article, Andy states that “The nation’s largest food charity, Feeding America, has failed to embrace the progressive values needed to make a real impact.” and offers a 10 point plan to change that, focusing on advocacy to change the structures and policies that lead people to be unable to afford food in the USA in the first place. Read the article here.
Likewise, Senator Bernie Sanders has commissioned a report that found that Taxpayers Subsidize Poverty Wages at Walmart, McDonald’s, Other Large Corporations. These corporations, listed at the linked article, employ people at wages so low they must rely on SNAP (food stamps to survive. “At a time when huge corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are making billions in profits and giving their CEOs tens of millions of dollars a year, they’re relying on corporate welfare from the federal government by paying their workers starvation wages. That is morally obscene. U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America. It is time for the owners of Walmart, McDonald’s and other large corporations to get off of welfare and pay their workers a living wage,” said Sanders. “…It is long past time to increase the federal minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15, and guarantee health care to all Americans as a human right.”
5. Food Chain Workers Fight For Better Safety During Pandemic
From Food Chain Workers Alliance: “As COVID-19 cases spike and employees brace for holiday crowds, Food 4 Less workers in Los Angeles rallied Tuesday (November 17) to demand reinstatement of Hazard Pay and increased safety protections for workers and customers. Despite a huge increase in sales, Kroger, Food 4 Less’ parent company, eliminated hazard pay and has failed to enforce basic workplace protections to keep workers and customers safe.”
“Workers are concerned that the holiday season and increased COVID infections will put them, their families, and customers at greater risk. Find out more about the #Fight4More / #Lucha4Más campaign at https://foodchainworkers.org/ .”
Grocery workers and union members protest outside a North Long Beach Food 4 Less for increased safety measures and hazard pay. Photo by Brandon Richardson for Long Beach Business Journal.
6. Updates on CalFresh: Rules Made Simpler for Seniors: Court Rules Stolen Benefits Must Be Restored
From a press release by Western Center on Law and Poverty and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles: The California Court of Appeal has ruled that the Department of Social Services must replace CalFresh benefits (formerly "food stamps") when they are electronically stolen from recipients. Attorneys with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) and Western Center on Law & Poverty represented plaintiffs Esther Ortega and Joe Soza, both of whom are recipients of CalFresh benefits who experienced electronic theft. Hunger Action Los Angeles, an organization working to end hunger and promote healthy eating through advocacy, direct service, and organizing, was also an organizational plaintiff in the case.
“This decision makes it clear that people don’t have to go hungry if through no fault of their own, their CalFresh benefits are stolen,” said Frank Tamborello, Executive Director of Hunger Action LA. “It’s especially critical during this pandemic, with hunger at an all-time high and electronic theft increasing.”
The Court of Appeal decision in Esther Ortega et al., v. Kimberley Johnson, et al. reverses a trial court decision that said the state is not responsible for replacing stolen benefits, and requires reversal of the California Department of Social Services’ previous denial of the plaintiffs’ requests for replacement benefits.
As electronic theft becomes more technologically sophisticated, more low-income Californians are left without essential anti-hunger food benefits, even when they protect their EBT cards and personal information. The result in this case will ensure that CalFresh recipients have their benefits replaced when they are stolen by electronic thieves, and that they don't go hungry when they are victims of high-tech theft.
The point of food assistance is to make sure people can eat. With California and the country both experiencing record levels of hunger, it’s vitally important for government to safeguard necessary food assistance for eligible recipients. This ruling is an important step for Californians who rely on CalFresh benefits to prevent hunger.
CalFresh Will Now Be Simpler for Seniors: The federal government has approved California’s request for waivers in the SNAP program that will eliminate the quarterly reporting normally required for households, if all members of the household are seniors or disabled and have no “earned” income (wages from working rather than pensions, Social Security and similar resources.) This waiver will be implemented as soon as March 1, 2022 and joins other waivers that have made it easier for California seniors and people with disabilities, including up to 1.3 million SSI recipients, to receive food benefits.
7. Save the Month: May 2021 for Hunger Action
“Hunger Action Day”, an event going on 25 years in California bringing together low income people and advocates around the state to the capitol in Sacramento to push for legislative policies that end hunger, became a virtual event “Hunger Action Week” this past May due to the pandemic, and in fact activities were conducted over a period of several weeks (so it’s more like Hunger Action Month now.) Hunger Action Day is conducted by the California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC), consisting of groups from all over the state including Hunger Action LA, LA CAN, California Association of Food Banks, Nourish CA, the San Diego Hunger Coalition, Fresno Metro Ministries, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Community Action Partnership of Orange County and a host of others.
Among the achievements of CHAC and its member groups over the years have been the removal of the racist ban on people with past drug felonies from receiving CalFresh benefits, rules simplifying the CalFresh program, state funds to provide more fruits and vegetables both to food banks and to CalFresh recipients, and the restoration of food benefit access to 1.3 million seniors and people with disabilities in the state who receive SSI.
Thousands of people have participated in CHAC events including Hunger Action Day (Week) (Month), whether they are recipients of public benefits, staff of nonprofit organizations, students, private sector workers or any other concerned residents. You can participate too! Email [email protected] and mark your calendar for May; it will be here quicker than you think!
Hunger Action LA at the Capitol in Sacramento, from the days when group travel was less risky