Food & Justice News August, 8th, 2019
- Hunger Action LA Community Food Policy Meeting: Thursday September 5th, 2 pm-4pm
- SB 285 (Wiener): Show Your Support for Improved Access to CalFresh, Contact Key Assemblymembers This Week
- USDA Proposes Cuts in SNAP Food Assistance: Please Comment Before September 23rd
Hunger Action LA Community Food Policy Meeting: Thursday September 5th, 2 pm-4pm
Save the date for a community meeting open to the public on food policy issues in the state, sponsored by Hunger Action LA:
- How has the Trump administration attempted to change policy on food benefits and how can we stop it from destroying them?
- How has the rollout of CalFresh benefits for SSI recipients been proceeding and what more is needed?
- What state legislation might still be in play (see SB 285 in the next item) and how can we help it?
- WIC is changing from a paper voucher system to an EBT system over the next few months. How will this affect customers, stores and farmers markets?
Where: St. Mary’s Church, 961 S Mariposa Ave LA CA 90006 (Parking at 960 S Normandie one block in the back of the church, @ Normandie & San Marino)
When: Thursday September 5, 2 pm to 4 pm
(Relayed from our colleagues at California Food Policy Advocates)
SB 285 needs your support to clear its next legislative hurdle, the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Join CFPA and our partners in asking the Committee to move the bill forward to the Assembly Floor!
SB 285 establishes clear goals to improve CalFresh access, starting with enrolling at least 75% of seniors and disabled SSI recipients who became eligible on June 1st. The bill ensures that all applicants will have efficient and equitable access to CalFresh, regardless of where they live or their individual life circumstances. The bill is sponsored by CFPA, SF-Marin Food Bank, AARP-CA, and the California Association of Food Banks.
And check out our newest one-pager, CalFresh Voices, to learn from CalFresh applicants and recipients themselves, in their own words, about how important CalFresh is to maintaining their health and wellbeing.
Your Support is Needed to Keep SB 285 Moving Forward!
1) Take Action Today!
Call and/or email the following Assemblymembers. Prioritize your outreach to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-80), the Chair of the Committee on Appropriations and Anthony Rendon (D-63), Speaker of the Assembly. This should take you just a few minutes.
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Chair (D-80) (619) 338-8090
Anthony Rendon, Speaker (D - 63) (562) 529-3250
Please also spend a few minutes contacting your local Assemblymember, if they are listed below as a committee member (This list includes only the LA area members)
- Richard Bloom (D-50) (916) 651-2050
- Ian C. Calderon (D-57) (916) 651-2057
- Wendy Carrillo (D-51) (916) 651-2051
- Ed Chau (D-49) (916) 651-2049
- Jesse Gabriel (D-45) (916) 651-2045
- Eduardo Garcia (D-56) (916) 651-2056
Sample call/email script:
Hello. My name is ________. I live in ______, CA. I am calling to ask Asssemblymember ______ to support SB 285 which would improve access to CalFresh, our most powerful anti-hunger and anti-poverty program. [choose one or more of the following reasons or tell them your own]
- Californians struggling to make ends meet deserve meaningful access to CalFresh. We need to set statewide goals and track progress to make meaningful improvements.
- Together, we can do the work to make CalFresh work for everyone, regardless of where they live or their individual circumstances. SB 285 provides a roadmap for success.
- Over 500,000 SSI recipients just became eligible for CalFresh. Now is the time to ensure that all eligible Californians, especially seniors and people with disabilities, can access CalFresh simply and with dignity.
2) Get Loud on Social Media!
Sample tweets (tag members of the Appropriations Committee)
- Californians struggling to make ends meet deserve a simpler way to enroll in CalFresh. We need statewide goals for equitable access. Plz support SB 285, @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd@CAgovernor
- Together, we can do the work to make CalFresh work for everyone, regardless of where they live or their individual circumstances. SB 285 provides a roadmap for success. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
- When only one in five eligible low-income seniors can access CalFresh, it's time for change. SB 285 lays out a an achievable plan to improve CalFresh enrollment, especially for seniors. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
- Over 500,000 SSI recipients just became eligible for CalFresh. Now is the time to ensure that all Californians, especially seniors and people with disabilities, can access CalFresh simply and with dignity. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
3) Learn more and stay up to date at cfpa.net/sb285, by following @CAFoodPolicy, and by signing up for CFPA's Action Alerts.
USDA Proposes Cuts in SNAP Food Assistance: Please Comment Before September 23rd
Trump is at it again. He wants to cut food stamps (SNAP) off from 3 million people by getting rid of a rule that lets some people with kids get the benefit even if their income is over the usual limit (But still UNDER 185% of poverty, which is still pretty broke, especially in LA with housing costs and child care.) Eliminating this proposed rule might also end school meals for half a million kids in the US, through enrollment procedures that connect SNAP enrollment to school meals.
Trump’s US Department of Agriculture is submitting this proposed rule change, but we can OPPOSE it by submitting comments by email. Comments can be submitted at the federal regulations website, but Food Research and Action Center has created a more user friendly form through which comments can be sent and relayed to the federal government. Use the form at this link to submit a comment opposing a proposal to amend a SNAP categorical eligibility rule:
Written comments must be received on or before September 23, 2019 to be assured of consideration.
Here is a link to the proposed change:
First District LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina has already responded, with a Board motion to oppose the cuts:
Also, more than 40 California Democrats in Congress wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking the administration to withdraw this proposal.
"As members of Congress committed to an effective federal nutrition assistance program, we worked hard to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that maintained states' flexibility to opt into broad-based categorical eligibility," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "We urge you to take into consideration the harmful effects of this proposed rule and act quickly to rescind it." (Bottemiller Evich, Politico 2019)
What is the current rule?
Under a rule passed many years ago, SNAP benefits can be automatically available to people who receive other federally funded benefits, especially TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families---known as CalWORKs here in California.) This allows people who are still low income, but are over the usual income limit for SNAP, to get food assistance.
The rule is known as “Categorical Eligibility.” Forty states and the District of Columbia currently use the Categorical Eligibility rule, and allow participants in some federally funded welfare programs to automatically receive food stamps as long as their income is less than double the poverty level.
What is the proposed change?
The Trump administration rule would limit states’ ability to enroll recipients earning more than 130% of the federal poverty guidelines -- in most cases capping eligibility to an annual income of $32,640 for a family of four. This could cut 3 million people nationwide off of benefits.
Who benefits from the current rule?
It’s an especially helpful rule for families that have been getting cash welfare, but are working their way off the program (as they are required to do.) Such families often are only able to get part time work that pays just enough that they wouldn’t usually qualify for SNAP. And they have expenses like child care, which they need in order to be able to keep working.
Add to that the expenses of daily life---gasoline, high rents, and medical debt among other things---and it’s easy to see how someone who’s over the usual SNAP income limit could have expenses so high that they still need food assistance.
For example, here in California it’s estimated by Western Center on Law and Poverty that 120,000 Californians who are below 200% of the poverty level, most of them working families, could have benefits cut off. Worse, because of other rules that allow children to be directly enrolled into free school meals if their families are getting SNAP through Categorical Eligibility, 170,000 kids may lose those meals.