BIG VICTORY FOR CALIFORNIA WORKERS!!
Food Justice News September 14 2020:
Reports and updates today on food justice and food security issues from our friends at Public Health Foundation WIC, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and others:
- Food Assistance Bill for Low Income Californians On the Governor’s Desk
- USC Study Finds Food Insecurity in LA Rises Due to Covid
- Sorting Out New Eviction Rules September 2020
- Support WIC’s Ability To Serve New Moms Remotely
1. Food Assistance Bill for Low Income Californians On the Governor’s Desk
(Reposted from Western Center on Law and Poverty)
On Tuesday, Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and advocates will host a virtual press conference urging Governor Gavin Newsom to sign AB 826 (Santiago), a bill that would provide emergency food assistance to low-income Californians struggling financially due to COVID-19.
AB 826, co-sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks, CHIRLA and the Western Center Law and Poverty, would establish a one-time fund to provide emergency food assistance for low-income Californians, regardless of legal status, financially struggling due to COVID-19. Each eligible adult would receive $600 to spend on groceries. With over 7 million Californians applying for unemployment insurance since March, this bill is crucial to address widespread food insecurity in our state.
Assembly Member Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He also sits on the Assembly Committees on Public Safety, Health, Higher Education and Utilities and Energy. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.
2. USC Study Finds Food Insecurity in LA Rises Due to Covid
USC has released The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Insecurity in Los Angeles County:April to May 2020. And for LA it shows that non surprisingly things are tougher given that surviving in our expensive county was hard well before covid struck. From the press release by Jim Key: “In L.A., levels of economic insecurity have increased as a result of the pandemic and are substantially higher than in the rest of the nation. Among the newly unemployed, nearly 30% of Angelenos are currently experiencing mild to severe food insecurity — 8 points higher than the national average. And only 58% of Angelenos say they could handle a surprise $2,000 expense, compared to the national average of 68%.
Angelenos are worse off now largely because they were in a more precarious financial position from the start”.
Press release for “Understanding Coronavirus in America”: https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/3224/understanding-coronavirus-survey-of-economic-insecurity/
The full study found that “ Overall, 39.5% of low-income households experienced food insecurity at some time between April and May 2020.” It is interesting that a large majority of those experiencing hunger during covid were not accessing government food programs like CalFresh, even though more than 50% likely were eligible.
3. Sorting Out New Eviction Rules September 2020
There’s good news and challenging news for tenants facing eviction due to circumstances caused by covid. On the one hand, the federal, state and LA County governments have all passed some form of temporary halts to eviction at least through the end of 2020. On the other hand, none of them forgive the rent owed, they simply allow payment to be deferred, and do not provide financial assistance to pay the rent. Sorting out the new mandates at the different levels can be confusing, and they also require an ability to prove that your inability to pay rent is related to the covid crisis---paperwork that may be difficult for many to complete. Considering the pre-exisiting menacing housing crisis engulfing LA County, these mandates may not help enough people. People should be aware of their rights, and a good source is the county’s www.stayhousedla.org . Here is a summary of what is happening now:
National law: On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a federal order that prevents tenants from being evicted for not paying rent or without a valid reason (known as "just cause”) that is the fault of the tenant until December 31, 2020. For the emergency protection to apply, you must submit a written declaration to your landlord that you are experiencing COVID-19 related hardship and cannot pay your rent. This declaration must be sent each month as soon as you know you won’t be able to pay rent .
Click here to download the declaration form provided by the CDC.
State of California law:
On August 31, 2020, the State of California passed tenant protections that prevent landlords from evicting tenants before February 1, 2021 without a valid reason or for any rent not paid between March 4 - January 31, 2021 due to loss of income or increased expenses associated with COVID-19.
If you owe rent for any months from March 2020 to August 2020, you must submit a declaration form to your landlord. Once submitted, your landlord cannot evict you for not paying rent.
If you can’t pay rent for any month from September 2020 to January 2021, you must submit a notice of hardship to your landlord stating that you can’t pay your rent because of a loss of income due to COVID-19 each and every month you get a notice about the rent owed. You must also pay a minimum of 25% of the total rent owed, by January 31, 2021. To satisfy this requirement, you can either pay over time, or you can make one payment as long as you pay the 25% of the rent before January 31, 2021.
From the county website: “Neither the national nor the federal protections cancel rent. You are still responsible for paying any rent you miss.
Also, while these laws protect you from eviction, it doesn’t mean your landlord won’t still try to evict you. If you receive an eviction lawsuit you must file and answer to the lawsuit. If you receive a notice or any kind of paperwork from the court, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Seek legal assistance now to understand your rights and successfully respond to an eviction in court.”
“If you receive a notice from your landlord, or are experiencing threats or harassment, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Sign up for a free workshop to learn more about emergency protections and your rights and get connected to resources that can keep you in your home.”
More information including LA County rent freeze in certain parts of the county:
4. Support WIC’s Ability To Serve New Moms Remotely
The WIC program serves pregnant women, and kids age 5 and under, with food vouchers, nutrition education and more. During covid, waivers have allowed WIC to issue benefits to families remotely rather than requiring participants to pick up WIC benefits in person. These waivers are expiring September 30, 2020. The National WIC Association is leading efforts to extend WIC waivers beyond September 30, 2020. Learn more about the National WIC Association’s campaign.
Here are some of the messages you can tweet : see the link above for more info on who you can “@” in your tweets and for suggestions on sending your message with a photo:
Keep pregnant women and new parents safe. #WICWaiversWork
States need the flexibility to keep moms and babies safe. #WICWaiversWork
Protecting WIC families is a no-cost provision. #WICWaiversWork
Dear USDA: Protect WIC moms and babies from COVID-19. #WICWaiversWork
Do right by moms and babies. Extend remote WIC services. #WICWaiversWork
Keep moms and babies from going into clinics during COVID-19. #WICWaiversWork
Waivers ensure healthy pregnancies and child development. Extend WIC waivers. #WICWaiversWork
Protect families from COVID-19. Extend WIC Waivers #WICWaiversWork
Dear USDA: Ensure the continuation of safe WIC service delivery. #WICWaiversWork
Food Justice News August 6, 2020:
Reports and updates today on food justice and food security issues from our friends at California Food Policy Advocates, California Alliance of Farmers’ Markets, CalCAN, Public Health Foundation WIC, LA County and others
- Pandemic EBT : Who Qualifies and How to Appeal
- National Farmers Market Week
- WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Up and Running!
- Support Healthy Soils and Farmworker Housing for Strong California Agriculture
- Volunteers Needed for Hunger Action LA!
- Link to LA County Food Programs
- Pandemic EBT : Who Qualifies and How to Appeal
Pandemic EBT or PEBT is the name of the food card program that distributed benefits to families with children in school meals programs, who were homebound due to the pandemic. California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) reports that “ As of late July, $1.3 billion in P-EBT food benefits have been distributed to more than 3.5 million children across California. “
CFPA has prepared Question/Answer sheets in English and Spanish that cover P-EBT eligibility decisions, the appeals process, how to get help with P-EBT, and actions you can take to make sure P-EBT continues to help children throughout California. Click on links below:
2. National Farmers Market Week
(Thanks to CA Alliance of Farmers Markets)
Farmers Market Week began August 2 and ends Saturday. So let’s finish up with a strong weekend supporting local farmers! Many people have been wondering what’s happened to the farmers markets since the pandemic began. Here are some updates:
- Most markets are open, but have added hand-washing stations, eliminated on-site dining and food sampling, and have spaced the canopies further apart to allow for social distancing.
- Many markets that were co-located health care facilities (such as Kaiser Permanente) have closed indefinitely, but you should check because some have re-opened on other health facilities
- As more people lose income and qualify for CalFresh, we’ve seen as much as a 25% increase in CalFresh sales at some of the markets affiliated with Hunger Action LA’s Market Match program. In addition, P-EBT or Pandemic EBT can be used at the farmers markets too, and also qualifies the user for up to $10 bonus coupons to spend via Market Match.
Please share this video by the CA Alliance of Farmers Markets and the Spanish video for National Farmers Market Week on your social media platforms!
3. WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Up and Running!
WIC (Women Infants and Children) program provides food benefits, health and other classes all year long to families with children age 5 and under (as well as pregnant women.) Every summer, WIC provides farmers market coupons so families can learn about markets and make healthier choices.
WIC Families get $28 free this year to spend at farmers markets. Public Health Foundation Enterprises, one of the major WIC contractors in Southern California, will be distributing over half a million dollars of fruit and vegetable vouchers to 22,000 WIC families (while supplies last.)
This year, many markets remain open with additional safety measures in place due to COVID-19. We encourage participants to wear a mask to the market and follow all posted social distancing instructions for a safer shopping experience.
PHFE WIC participants can text FARMERS to 91997 to request their FMNP vouchers, if they have not received them. Vouchers will be mailed to the WIC participant within 1 week of the request.
Hunger Action LA has organized a safe and convenient way for families to use their WIC FMNP vouchers. WIC participants can order a WIC Farm Box for pickup at one of several Los Angeles farmers' markets!
4. Support Healthy Soils and Farmworker Housing for Strong California Agriculture
(Based on info from CalCAN, the California Climate and Agriculture Network)
Please take a few minutes today to email your state Senator and Assemblymember, and Governor Newsom, and ask them to make economic recovery investments in food and agriculture!
Food security—and economic security---in California depend on a strong resilient agriculture sector. After all, we are the state that feeds the nation. Two important programs to help achieve this are Healthy Soils (which provides grants to farmers and ranchers to build better soils) and Housing for the Harvest (housing for farmworkers who have to isolate due to the pandemic.)
Let your elected representatives know that you support these two programs, which are under consideration for funding in legislative talks now.
Sample Message for email or phone call:
“I’m urging (Governor Newsom or your Senator) to prioritize economic recovery funding for the Healthy Soils Program and the Housing for the Harvest program. The Healthy Soils Program turns farm-based climate solutions into rural jobs and farm viability. We must expand the Housing for Harvest program to include all agricultural counties, which provides critical housing for our farmworkers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic.”
You can reach Governor Newsom's page here for contact info by phone or email directly from the website. You can also find your senator at this link and follow the links at their site for contact info.
Background: Healthy Soils Program (CA Dept. of Food & Agriculture): In June, more than 300 growers received Healthy Soils grants but almost 600 farmers applied. Many farmers are using Healthy Soils grants to try new practices like compost, cover crops, and hedgerow plantings that not only build carbon sinks but also reduce chemical use and protect air and water quality, all while investing in local communities.
Farmworker Housing: Housing for the Harvest is a new program that offers temporary hotel housing to agricultural workers who need to isolate due to COVID-19. We support expanding Housing for the Harvest to include all agricultural counties.
5. Volunteers Needed for Hunger Action LA!
Contact us at email@example.com if you have some time to volunteer. We need:
*Delivery drivers to take food or meal bags to disabled, blind or senior households under pandemic lockdown. We collect food at 2:30 pm on Wednesday and deliveries go to South LA, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, and Harbor Gateway cities. You can volunteer for 2 to 5 deliveries (or more.) Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
*Volunteers to help set up and take down farmers markets, and prepare boxes for WIC customers (mentioned in the earlier item on the update.) Also contact email@example.com
Join the over 75 who have volunteered with us so far since the pandemic and thank you very much!
6. Link to LA County Food Programs
During the coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen a bewildering array of changes, most of them temporary but with no definite end date, in food programs, as well as helpful new services pop up from public and private sources, especially for vulnerable communities who really shouldn’t go out to get groceries at this time. LA County has set up a web page with all the vital links including:
- Direct links to apply for CalFresh or for WIC
- A link to search for free food resources in your area
- Senior Critical Delivery service and the county’s Senior meal delivery program, as well as the city of LA’s recently expanded senior meal program
- Resources for those who want to volunteer and for those who are collecting or redistributing food
Information on public benefits, updates on Covid impacts, and food distribution events around the county can be found here:
LA County is continuing its own version of the Great Plates program, helping homebound seniors between certain income levels to get 3 meals a day delivered to their homes: