Food & Justice News May 12th, 2019
- Support LA Activists for Hunger Action Day
- State Budget: Some Good News, But Stronger Anti-Poverty Investment Needed
- CalFresh Awareness Month May 2019: Students and SSI Recipients in the Spotlight
- Seniors and WIC Recipients: Farmers Market Season Begins!
- Cutting the Red Tape for Seniors Applying for CalFresh: SB 285
- Hunger Action Day May 22 Sacramento
- Trump Poverty Level Proposal Puts Millions At Risk
- School Lunch Shaming: It’s Still Going On
- Help Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Enjoy the Farmers Market: June 8 Santa Monica Pico Farmers Market
Support LA Activists for Hunger Action Day
Hunger Action Day is coming May 22 at the state Capitol in Sacramento. HALA is raising money for bus and lodging for low income residents to bring their life experiences to the state’s lawmakers to advocate for stronger anti-poverty policies. Sponsor a low-income resident to be part of this annual expedition, where we’ve won victories for people in recovery, seniors, disabled people and children
We just need another $2,000 to cover our expenses. Your $10, $20 or $50 or more donation is greatly appreciated and will help us get across the finish line.
Want to join us for Hunger Action Day? —See Hunger Action Day flyer further below in this newsletter.
State Budget: Some Good News, But Stronger Anti-Poverty Investment Needed
Hunger Action LA applauds some of Governor Newsom’s May budget revisions announced this past Thursday May 9, but particularly in two areas there’s a shortfall and a missed opportunity, with the state surplus at its highest in a long time, to address poverty. Those are CalWORKs and SSI. CalWORKs is the state cash welfare program for families; it requires work or training from participants and is limited to 48 months of assistance in a lifetime. SSI is short for “SSI/SSP” (the federal Supplemental Security Income SSI combined with the State Supplemental Payment SSP: this is $930 a month for seniors and people with disabilities.)
CalWORKs: The Governor’s proposal would increase maximum CalWORKs grants beginning this October from $785 a month to $888 a month for a family of three. As large of a step that this is and very laudable, it would only bring the maximum grant to 50 percent of the federal poverty level, with most families still only qualifying for about $566 per month. 60% of the aided CalWORKs families have children under 6 years old, the most critical years of child development. Over the years billions of dollars have been taken from the CalWORKs fund and used in the state’s general fund.
The Governor should include funding to remove the asset test from CalWORKs, as proposed by SB 268 (Weiner.) Currently to qualify for CalWORKs, families can have only $2,250 or less, which is less than the amount of money needed to pay deposit and first month’s rent on an average two-bedroom apartment in the state. (The limit is $3,250 if there’s a family member 60 or older).
This means a family who’s desperate for assistance would have to spend their savings down to $2,250 or less in order to qualify for monthly benefits. The state spends millions right now to sort out the families that have too much in savings, and finds that only 2% of the families applying have too much to qualify. This administrative money would be much better spent on immediate family needs like clothing, utility bills and school supplies. Eliminating the asset test would allow families to escape poverty rather than simply tread water.
The budget does increase the Safety Net Reserve Funds available for CalWORKs and Medi-Cal services and benefits during an economic downturn, and will prevent grant cuts and service reductions experienced in prior downturns. This is the first time that reserve has been completely funded.
SSI/SSP: Sadly, given the advances made for SSI/SSP recipients, the governor made no increase for the State Supplemental Payment (SSP), which was reduced in the Schwarzenegger Administration. The $77 a month reduction has never been restored. The state continues to benefit from this cut by $1 billion annually. The cost of living increase approved by the legislators will not go into effect until January 1, 2022.
SSI recipient Christine explains why she would be helped enormously by an increase in the SSP:
“I live on SSI with an autoimmune disease and take immunosuppressant medication that causes skin problems and puts me at risk for infection. With money being tight I could not afford my doctor prescribed shampoo and bought something from the dollar store instead. The result was an adverse reaction than put me in the hospital for days. I get Medi-Cal and my medical expenses are covered but the government is paying not me. The bill would have been over $5000. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to increase the SSP so I can afford my medically necessary shampoo and avoid costly healthcare expenses? “
Earned Income Credit: The budget revision significantly increases eligibility and benefits for the state earned income tax credit program. The proposal includes a $900 credit for families with children under the age of six. The proposal also increases the maximum eligible earned income so that workers working full-time at $15 per hour will be eligible.
Homelessness: The revise included some adjustment of the governors January proposal on homeless spending. He cited his conversations with counties and said more of the money would be targeted at hotel vouchers and rent subsidies.
CalFresh Awareness Month May 2019: Students and SSI Recipients in the Spotlight
Los Angeles County kicked off CalFresh Awareness Month for 2019 with an event at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Much of the conversation was about how CalFresh can help the high amount of food insecurity among college students in California—Media covering the event follows:
*SSI Resources: While student hunger has garnered a lot of well-deserved press attention, California is on the verge of the largest ever expansion of anti-hunger payments in history, as seniors and people with disabilities in the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) become eligible in three weeks. Get resources about the new CalFresh SSI expansion at: https://www.hungeractionla.org/calfresh_ssi_resources. More coming soon!
SSI CalFresh Enrollment Events: We’ll soon have a full schedule of farmers market CalFresh enrollment events, targeting SSI recipients but including anyone who wants to apply for CalFresh. At these events people can apply directly with County officials for CalFresh benefits at the relaxed atmosphere of the farmers market. Here are two to get you started:
Saturday May 25: Santa Monica Farmers Market, 220 Virginia Ave Santa Monica 90404 from 9 am to 1 pm
Wednesday June 5: Adams Vermont Farmers Market, 1432 W. Adams LA 90007 from 2 pm to 5 pm
Seniors and WIC Recipients: Farmers Market Season Begins!
Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC will be distributing its $20 summer promotional WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Checks to client families at these following participating farmers markets beginning May 15 and continuing until all checks are distributed. One check available per family.
Participating markets: Adams/Vermont: Cerritos: East LA: Echo Park: Gardena: La Cienega: Monterey Park: Pico Rivera: Pomona Valley: Rosemead: West Covina: Wilmington
For market specific locations, days and time see PHFE WIC Summer $20 WIC Checks Info.
South LA Health Projects (SLAHP) will also be offering the coupons, at these markets: Central Avenue, Downey, Huntington Park, MLK Campus, and South Gate. More information:
Clients should bring WIC folder to the WIC booth at these farmers markets. Please see this link for the days/times of the market:
Seniors also qualify for $20 one time summer Farmers Market promotional coupons to use at farmers markets through the federal Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. These coupons are available at about 90 senior centers in LA County. Urban and Environmental Policy Institute has compiled a list along with frequently Asked Questions:
Cutting the Red Tape for Seniors Applying for CalFresh: SB 285
Proposed state legislation would require a simpler application for CalFresh monthly food assistance for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as allow applications to be completed by phone from anywhere in the state California Food Policy Advocates’ George Manalo-LeClair outlines what’s needed to get it over the finish line in this op-ed in the Pasadena News Now:
Hunger Action Day May 22 Sacramento
A handful of seats remain to join Hunger Action LA on the bus Tuesday May 21 for the journey to Sacramento and participation at Hunger Action Day at the state capitol the following day (Wednesday May 22.) You are of course free to sacrifice being on the six-hour journey through central California (where you can see and truly appreciate our state’s agricultural bounty) and take one of those new-fangled airplanes and meet us up there (please tell us if you plan to come so we can hook you up with one of the legislative visits we’ve confirmed so far with Southern California assembly members and senators.)
Here’s a brief rundown of legislation we’re supporting with its current status in the legislature:
AB 1434 (Kalra) Increase SSI/SSP benefits to over 100% of poverty and reinstate Cost of Living Allowance for the program. Referred to Appropriations suspense file
SB 268 (Weiner) Repeal the asset test in CalWORKs. Placed on Appropriations suspense file.
SB 285 (Weiner) Ensure access to CalFresh by phone, online and in person. Passed out of Senate Human Services April 22 and going to Senate Appropriations
AB 942 (Weber) Expand CalFresh Restaurant Meals across the state. In Appropriations Suspense file
AB 1022 California Anti-Hunger Response and Employment Training Act of 2019 (Wicks). Remove the harm of work requirements for CalFresh. Referred to Assembly Appropriations committee.
AB 842 (Limon) Guarantee more access to healthy meals in preschool and child care April 25: It’s in Appropriations Committee. Calls will be made on April 30 to ask the committee to pass it.
SB 499 California Grown for Healthy Kids (McGuire) Extra 10 cent breakfast reimbursement to schools to buy California grown fruits and vegetables.
What is the “Suspense” File?: legislature.ca.gov defines it as “A bill or set of bills, with a fiscal impact, set aside in Appropriations Committee by a majority of Members present and voting. These bills may be heard at a later hearing.”. That means it’s a bill that costs money and they’re going to put it aside for later. And THAT means that sometime before the year ends or before the very early part of next year, we have to get them to vote on it and support it to get it “out” of the suspense file!
Trump Poverty Level Proposal Puts Millions At Risk
Igor Derysh writes in an article in Salon: “The Trump administration has proposed a new change that would overhaul how the government determines the national poverty level in a move that could cost millions of Americans access to welfare programs. The Office of Management and Budget proposed a regulatory change Monday that would alter the formula for determining the annual poverty level, which the federal government uses to establish whether people qualify for benefits like Medicaid and food stamps, Bloomberg News reports.
The formula is currently based on three times the cost of a minimum food budget and is adjusted each year for inflation. Last year, the poverty level for a family of four was a mere $25,900. In 2016, more than 40 million Americans were considered to be living in poverty based on the current formula, despite the Trump administration’s claim that the war on poverty is “largely over and a success.”
Now the administration has proposed altering the formula so the poverty level would rise at an even slower rate. This would result in essentially redefining a large number of lower-income people out of poverty, leaving them ineligible for benefits like food aid, medical insurance and housing assistance.”
School Lunch Shaming: It’s Still Going On
“Lunch shaming” is when students’ parents aren’t able to pay what they owe for their kids’ school meals, and subsequently the school punishes the child by serving them a separate, inferior lunch (like a cold peanut butter sandwich instead of a full balanced hot meal) and/or making them stand in a separate line or stamping the kids’ hands or making them work to pay off the debt.
Chobani , the big yogurt company, recently made headlines by paying off the lunch debt at this Rhode Island school district. But it’s absurd that private donors should have to do this. School meals are financed by the federal and state governments and numerous mechanisms exist that can ensure that the lunch shaming situation never happens. The most obvious one, the provision of healthy meals free to all kids regardless of income (which would save huge amounts of administrative costs use to determine which kids pay and which get free or reduced price meals) remains a goal for the anti-hunger movement.
Zachary Wolf on CNN: “Despite some state laws banning the practice of singling out students with unpaid lunch debt and proposals for a federal law that would end it nationwide, it is alive and well in some areas”
Help Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Enjoy the Farmers Market: June 8 Santa Monica Pico Farmers Market
Saturday June 8 Santa Monica Pico Farmers Market
2200 Virginia Ave. in Virginia Park Pico & Cloverfield Santa Monica CA 90404
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]
NO OTHER REGISTRATION NEEDED!
What we'll be doing:
- Guiding blind or low vision shoppers around the market. Need outgoing people who love to converse! Also people who are patient and can describe to the shoppers the foods they’re encountering
- We anticipate staying from 9:30 am until probably 1 pm: You may have shoppers who wish to go for longer than that. Let us know how long you’d be available
- WE also need drivers. You can be both a guide and a driver if you like. The drivers are there to take the shoppers home from the market. They do not need to bring them TO the market. Most of the shoppers will take ACCESS. However, it’s hard to go home by ACCESS since you need to give precise time and pick up point or risk being abandoned.
If you volunteer to drive we will be finding out the addresses of all the shoppers in advance and then alert all the volunteers to those potential addresses, BEFORE the day of the market. If you volunteer to drive you would then just let us know who lives in a convenient route home for you. Most of the shoppers will not live too far from the Crenshaw area but a few are further out such as the Valley, West LA, and sometimes shoppers will have to be taken to Union Station to go to further destinations.
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]
Here are some reminders to ensure that you are prepared for the day:
- Bring a signed copy of the liability waiver (You can also sign one at the market)
- Volunteer guides will need to provide their own transportation
Our itinerary for BLV Market Days is outlined below:
- 9:30 am Arrival at the farmers market (Santa Monica June 8.)
- 10:15 am Breakfast/Orientation—this is where volunteers will match up with shoppers
- 10:30 am – 12:30 pm Shopping/Eating
- 12:30 am – 1 pm Take shoppers home (Unless some make particular arrangements to stay later with the volunteer)
We will have snacks and water for volunteers as well as shoppers.
Along with helping guide shoppers around the farmers markets, we are also in need of drivers to take shoppers home afterwards.
If you have any questions or need directions on the day of the event, please call Frank Tamborello, the Director of Hunger Action LA at (213) 361-2075.
Drivers must have a valid license, insurance, and sign a waiver.
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]