Food & Justice News June 26th, 2019
- SB 285—Help People Get Food Assistance Easily through Phone and Computer
- Update on Anti-Hunger Legislation and State Budget
- USDA Moving Research Agencies Dealing with SNAP and Climate Change Out of Washington DC
- Diabetes Down, but Obesity Up
SB 285—Help People Get Food Assistance Easily through Phone and Computer
Call Assemblymembers on Human Services Committee to Support SB 285
SB 285 calls for the counties of California to improve access to the CalFresh program for everyone by requiring all counties to allow easy application by phone, in person, or online.
Many counties are pushing back on the “phone” part—only 13 of the 58 counties have the system in place where you can sign the application by telephone (Telephonic Signature.)
They’re saying we should wait until 2023 to have that system go statewide. There’s absolutely no good reason for this delay!
The bill, SB 285, is going to be heard in the Assembly Human Services Committee on July 2. Here in SoCal, we have a couple of Assemblymembers on that committee:
Laura Friedman (D-43) (916) 319-2043
Mike A Gipson (D-64) (916) 319-2064
Call them and ask them to support SB 285, and let them know that:
All counties must allow people to apply for CalFresh by phone—it should be instituted immediately, we can’t wait until 2023!
California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) is organizing support for the bill at the hearing on July 2 in Sacramento.
If you can get yourself up to Sacramento on July 2 to support this bill: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
If you can’t get to Sacramento but would like to permit California Food Policy Advocates to verbally name your organization as a supporter, inform email@example.com
Update on Anti-Hunger Legislation and State Budget
Here’s a brief rundown of other anti-hunger legislation we’re supporting with its current status in the legislature:
SSI and the state budget: The state budget is in its final stages of negotiations. While there were some victories for low-income people, there was inaction on increasing the state portion of the SSI/SSP grant on which 1.3 million senior and disabled Californians rely, inexplicable in the light of a reported 21 billion dollar surplus. No funds in the state budget were included for a cost of living increase or an increase to the basic grant.
One theory is that the state legislators fear a recession coming up, not unfounded given the several years of economic expansion. Of course, that expansion is probably news to the millions of Americans struggling with stagnant wages, less-than-full-time-hours, higher rents, and gasoline price increases.
If a recession is around the corner, it actually makes even more sense to give SSI recipients a raise over the current $930 per month (for most recipients.) When low-income people get money (or food stamps), they spend it (because they have to), and in so doing keep the wheels of the general economy rolling. This has been proven over and over and accepted by people of all political stripes (who mostly disagree on who should get the money for these economic stimuli.)
Failing to raise SSI sure doesn’t help with the homeless crisis, which is acute here in LA and which Governor Newsom says he wants to really do something about.
Earned Income Credit: The state budget includes an increase in the California Earned Income Credit. Unfortunately, the program was not expanded to include holders of ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers). Nonetheless, the income threshold to qualify has been extended to workers making $15 an hour and will boost the benefit to families with children under age 6 by an extra $1,000. An estimated 3 million working families will be helped by the benefit.
You can learn more about CalEITC at CalEITC4Me.org
Other anti-hunger bills:
SB 268 (Weiner) Repeal the asset test in CalWORKs. This bill has been “gutted” and replaced and is now about a different topic altogether. However, through the state budget, the CalWORKs asset test was increased to $10,000. What this means is that families won’t have to “spend down” money they need for a big payment, such as a rent deposit, in order to get the financial help they need.
AB 942 (Weber) Expand CalFresh Restaurant Meals across the state. Got out of Assembly May 28 on a 72-0 vote with 8 abstaining; it passed the Senate Human Services Committee on Monday, June 24 and now going to Senate Appropriations committee.
AB 1022 California Anti-Hunger Response and Employment Training Act of 2019 (Wicks). Enables more participants to meet work requirements for CalFresh. This also passed the Assembly, passed Senate Human Services, and now going to Senate Appropriations committee.
SB 499 California Grown for Healthy Kids (McGuire) Extra 10 cent breakfast reimbursement to schools to buy California grown fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, no funding for it was included in the state budget approved by the legislature. However, the bill is still alive and headed to the Assembly Education Committee.
CA Legislature will be on recess July 12 to August 12—a good time to get together with them and push for the final passage of some of our bills. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in organizing a meeting with your legislator.
USDA Moving Research Agencies Dealing with SNAP and Climate Change Out of Washington DC
USDA is moving its Economic Research Service and NIFA—both connected to climate change research, SNAP-related research, and programs including GusNIP (Market Match)—out of D.C. all the way to Kansas City. The employees turned their back on Ag Secretary Perdue in protest during the announcement.
The move is political because these two agencies do a lot of things the guy in the white house doesn't care for.
"Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting Thursday to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country.
Perdue announced earlier that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, will be relocated to Kansas City from Washington, DC, the final announcement in a process that began last year.
The department says the move will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, but many employees view the change as politically driven and a way to disrupt climate research and other work their bosses disagree with. Both agencies recently voted overwhelmingly to unionize to push back against the move."
From Politico’s “Morning Ag”: White House Suppressing Research Showing Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture
“Scores of scientists within the USDA's Agricultural Research Service are continuing to churn out studies that carry warnings about the wide-ranging effects of climate change, but there's been a dramatic drop-off in communicating these findings to the public.”
“The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to findings that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons, to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.”
“The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid press coverage that may raise questions about the administration's stance on the issue.”
“Last year, when USDA researchers, who had collaborated with scientists all over the world, were about to publish a groundbreaking study finding that rice loses vitamins in an atmosphere with elevated carbon dioxide, department officials not only withheld promoting the study — scrapping a press release that communications staff had written days before publication — but also called the University of Washington urging it to hold back its press release as well.”
Diabetes Down, but Obesity Up
The good, and the bad news on diabetes and obesity from time.com:
“The number of new diabetes cases among U.S. adults keeps falling, even as obesity rates climb, and health officials aren’t sure why.
New federal data released Tuesday found the number of new diabetes diagnoses fell to about 1.3 million in 2017, down from 1.7 million in 2009.
Earlier research had spotted a decline, and the new report shows it’s been going on for close to a decade. But health officials are not celebrating.
“The bottom line is we don’t know for sure what’s driving these trends,” said the lead author of the new report, Dr. Stephen Benoit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the possibilities: Changes in testing and getting people to improve their health before becoming diabetic.”