News Update: March 20th 2015

RSVP for Hunger Action Day May 12-13: Each May hundreds of anti-hunger advocates from across the state meet in Sacramento to educate their legislators about hunger and encourage their support for anti-hunger legislation. This year advocates from your community will be at the capitol on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. (Group travel date from LA for overnight in Sacramento is May 12.) With more than 3.8 million California adults struggling with food insecurity it’s important we speak out

Send questions or RSVP to : [email protected] or [email protected]

HALA Special Meeting Thursday March 26 10 AM: SSI Budget Hearing

Hunger Action LA will have instead of the usual 4th-Friday monthly meeting a special meeting at:

California Partnership
In the CHIRLA Building
3533 W 3rd ST
LA 90057
Thursday March 26th
10 am
Please rsvp: [email protected] (213) 388-8228

At this meeting, we’ll be watching the live stream of the budget hearings on SSI. This will be one of the few chances to assemble Southern California residents to express the need to lift SSI recipients out of poverty. Our colleagues from up North, particularly the Bay Area, have been able to send busloads of 50 people to the hearings at the state Capitol. Even though we have half the state’s SSI participants in Southern California, the time and cost of flights to Sacramento have kept us from being adequately represented.

We had also pushed for a video conference in to the committee, which would have been a historic first for the state Capitol. While we were not able to achieve that in time for this coming Thursday, the Legislature is researching it for the future. For the first time in the 21st century, we’ve made it clear that poor people with disabilities have a hard time if not altogether impossible affording and arranging flights and navigating airport terminals and shuttles to get to the Capitol. Our state government should use the available technology to allow more civic participation by the millions of residents whose lives are impacted by decisions made in the halls of the Capitol, but who do not have the wherewithal to get there in person.

Please Sign the CA4SSI Petition: Over 1,500 people have signed the CA4SSI (Californians for SSI) petition calling for SSI/SSP benefits for seniors and people with disabilities to be raised above the poverty line. But we need YOU to sign on to make it powerful!

Sign the CA4SSI Petition

Three Major New State Bills on Nutrition and Hunger:

Senator Liu Introduces Right to Rest Act, SB 608

Last week Senator Carol Liu (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) introduced legislation to end the alarming trend of cities passing laws that criminalize homeless people just for not having a place to stay. The “Right to Rest Act” would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat and pray in public space and to occupy a legally parked vehicle.

The bill will be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on April 7. In the meantime if you haven’t yet sent in a letter of support to the Senator, please do! Information and a sample letter can be found at:

California Nutrition Incentives Act Introduced

Assemblymember Phil Ting from the Bay Area has introduced AB 1321—California Nutrition Incentives Act. This bill would establish a state fund of $5 million to attract an equal amount of federal funding from the Farm Bill, to use as incentives for low income people to obtain more fresh fruits and vegetables. Currently in California about two dozen organizations operate “Market Match” programs which provide bonus dollars for people spending CalFresh at farmers’ markets. About 150 markets around the state have been operating these programs, with nearly all the actual bonus dollars coming from private fundraising. Hunger Action LA locally operates Market Match at 17 area farmers markets with funding from sources including First 5 LA and the Archstone Foundation, and Flora Foundation. In addition to CalFresh users, WIC and SSI recipients are also served at the HALA-run Market Match programs.

AB 1321 would allow the State to pony up some resources to match federal amounts now provided throught the Farm Bill, as the result of the nationwide popularity of programs similar to Market Match. This would bring in substantially more than what private fundraising has done, and it will be a four way win-win---reducing hunger, encouraging healthy eating, boosting the small farm economy (especially important during the drought), and helping sustainable organic farming survive. In addition to farmers markets, the state bill could provide funds for matching programs at small corner store operations, many of which are being converted to offer more fresh produce through the efforts of community grassroots leaders and nonprofit organizations.

Stay tuned early next week for letters of support for AB 1321---California Nutrition Incentives Act.

Soda Warning Label Act---SB 203

Senator Bill Monning has introduced SB 203, which would require a simple warning label on the bottles and cans of soda, sports drinks, sweet teas, and energy drinks. The label would say:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

The dangers of drinking sugary beverages are scientifically documented. Many of these products seem to be targeted to low-income communities as well, due to their cheapness and widespread availability.

The bill will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on April 22.

Congress’ Budget Cuts Every Program Imaginable

The current Congress, in line with what every Republican dominated Congress has done for the past twenty years, has proposed to turn the SNAP program into a block grant (where each state would get a limited amount of money for food assistance, and make its own rules about who gets it and how much), and on top of that they made big cuts in the budget for SNAP, in their current proposal.

(The SNAP program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is just the nationwide name for the old Food Stamp program, now called CalFresh here in Californnia.)

They’re also proposing, unsurprisingly, cuts to Medicaid (that’s Medi-Cal out here) and eliminating the Affordable Care Act entirely.

The President would be likely to veto such actions, but unless there is tremendous public pressure, Congress will continue to push for these gigantic cuts, and will work to find ways around the veto, threaten to shut down government, and use other parliamentary maneuvers to re-introduce these actions until he has no choice but to pass them.

From our colleagues at California Association of Food Banks:

California has so many CalFresh households relying on our advocacy effort!

Actions Needed:

  1. Urge Every Member of Congress, especially, Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees, to protect and strengthen the federal nutrition safety net.
  2. Join the Keep SNAP Strong Petition.

First, show of support from every congressional district is critical to protect this valuable program! Find your Congressperson here:

Tell your member of Congress why it's important to protect and strengthen SNAP & share with them these resources: (Fact Sheet on why Congress must protect and strengthen SNAP) (Interactive link that allows you to click on your congressional district for information on characteristics of SNAP households)

Then, join us in urging Congress to protect SNAP and stand against any budget proposals to cut or augment the program in any way by signing your organization on to this letter that will be sent to the House and Senate Budget Committee Members. Share this widely throughout your networks, and publicize it on your social media channels!

The deadline to sign on* to the letter is Tuesday, March 24th.

For questions or concerns, please contact Andrew Cheyne at [email protected]
or call (510) 350.9915

April 2 Minimum Wage Hearing-West L.A.

As multiple crises face us on the economic and environmental fronts, it’s powerful to see groups like Food and Water Watch reaching across issue areas to bring us together to work on issues holistically. Here’s a recent alert from Food and Water Watch that we urge you to support, participate in and spread the word about

A Call to Action! Environment & Labor Working Together

Good Day fellow Food & Water Watchers,

This is a call to ACTION!! We need as many able bodies as possible to come out to an upcoming labor rights action in West LA.

We the working peoples of America need to support each other and show up BIG! The climate movement is built by working people. We struggle for a fair wage, paid sick leave and wage theft enforcement as well as safer work conditions which ties in to environmental safety.


Will You Join Us?

Our support empowers more and more working people and aids to unite the dialog between the environment and labor. This action will build momentum to pressure Los Angeles City Hall to support working peoples.



[email protected] OR CALL 323.770.8020

Economic Development Committee Hearing on Proposed Minimum Wage Increase, and possible rally beforehand

Thursday, April 2, 2015 @ 6:00pm

The Museum of Tolerance
9786 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Into the struggle,

Walker Foley | Program Associate

Food & Water Watch | 323-843-8448

The Drought: Scary News and Hopeful News

The drought and its impact on food supply hit home for me this past Wednesday. At the farmers market, Mary, who usually has an array of oranges apples and even stone fruits at this time of year, had only a few oranges that didn’t look so great.

“Where are the apples”? I asked.

“No apples. No water”, was the reply. She wasn’t the only farmer without apples: another farmer said they have picked all theirs early. For the small scale farmer, using organic methods, getting adequate water is going to be extremely difficult---they can’t compete with the big growers.

Rice Farmers Skip Planting to Sell Water to Southern California:

Sacramento area rice farmers are being offered $700 per acre foot for water from the Metropolitan Water District---a huge increase in payment price. As rice is a very water intensive crop, it’s making economic sense for the farmers to skip planting the rice and sell the water .

Note: Rice and cotton are two crops we grow here in California that we have no business growing here---both use a lot of water, and both are grown in sufficient quantities in other states.

State’s Response to Drought: $1 Billion Drought Relief:

Mobilizing state resources to face another year of extreme dry conditions, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce legislation to help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought. The $1 billion package will expedite bond funding to make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.

Since last February, the state has pledged over $870 million to support drought relief, including money for food to workers directly impacted by the drought, funding to secure emergency drinking water supplies for drought impacted communities and bond funds for projects that will help local communities save water and make their water systems more resilient to drought. Last month, Governor Brown met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in Sacramento to announce nearly $20 million in federal drought relief for California’s Central Valley Project.

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

The legislation includes more than $1 billion for local drought relief and infrastructure projects to make the state’s water infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events. The package accelerates $128 million in expenditures from the Governor’s budget to provide direct assistance to workers and communities impacted by drought and to implement the Water Action Plan. It also includes $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling and accelerates $660 million from the Proposition 1e for flood protection in urban and rural areas.

From Tree People:

Sunday is World Water Day. Water scarcity is certainly a worldwide issue, but we in LA know the seriousness of it. Did you know that California has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs?

The good news is that our city is getting serious about creating a local, reliable water supply – and TreePeople is helping to bring to it the best global models.

TreePeople has been intensely involved in solving LA's local water problems since the 1990s. At that time I realized that the answer to LA's water challenges isn't in importing even more water from Northern California and the Colorado River. I realized that the answer lies right here in our city: on our driveways, sidewalks, city streets, parking lots and paved schoolyards. When it rains, these are the surfaces where the rainfall hits – and from where it's thrown away as quickly as possible, picking up pollution as most of it gets sent through storm drains out to sea.

When I began to ask how much water was wasted, I was shocked at the answer. That's when I first discovered that the rainfall we were throwing away represented nearly half the total water we need.

But how could rain be a resource in the midst of drought?

Contrary to public belief, it rains in Los Angeles, even during drought. So far this year, it has rained 7.7 inches in the city of Los Angeles. This rainfall alone, little as it is, has generated 29 billion gallons of runoff from the over-paved LA urban landscape. That amount equals 7,315 gallons of water thrown away per person for each of the LA's four million residents – water that could be captured to create part of our local water supply.

That sounds great in theory, but could we really capture that rain?

Yes we can. Australia provides an exciting and viable model. Australians captured and radically conserved rainwater in enough quantity to make it through an historic twelve-year-long drought. As reservoirs and rivers dried up, residents, businesses and governments retrofitted cities to capture rain at homes, in neighborhoods and schoolyards in tanks (also known as cisterns) and by creating sponge-like landscapes using mulch, compost and native and climate-appropriate trees and plants.

Their cities, as a result, are more water-secure, and healthier, more resilient and even more beautiful than ever.

TreePeople's had a long history of learning from Australia. Last October we brought a delegation of sixteen leaders from local and state-level agencies to Australia to see for themselves the methods that were rapidly deployed to enable the country survive its drought. The goal was to equip these leaders with the information and inspiration to bring these solutions back to apply in California. Just one example of the good that is coming from this: directly related to what he learned in Australia, Councilmember Felipe Fuentes just passed a motion through City Council to dramatically increase capture stormwater from LA's streets.

What was striking about our recent visit to Australia was to see how the country engaged the whole population in taking rapid action. Since I founded TreePeople in 1973, I've believed that people caring for the land, the trees, the water, the soil, play a crucial role in delivering solutions to problems that are threatening our survival. The more I've seen this in action, by Angelenos, from school kids to volunteers to government leaders, the more I've seen my belief validated.

Together we can create a vibrant, resilient, thriving city... with enough water for the life that depends on it.

We can't do this work without you.

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