News Update May 21 2018

May 21, 2018

  1. Draconian Farm Bill With Huge SNAP Cuts Rejected on Capitol Hill
  2. SSI Recipients and Allies Rally in Sacramento: Make Progress on Ability To Get Food Aid
  3. Farm Bill Party With A Purpose May 31—Help Hunger Action LA!
  4. LA CAN: Job Opening for Fresh Food Access Program
  5. LA Homeless Services Authority Holds Listening Sessions on Black Homelessness: June 7 and June 14
  6. State Officials Want To Limit Grassroots Food Groups : Call Senators Now to Oppose

Draconian Farm Bill With Huge SNAP Cuts Rejected on Capitol Hill

This past Friday (May 19), the House of Representatives defeated a Farm Bill proposal (HR2) that would have cut huge amounts from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly known as food stamps. The tally was 213 to 198. Thirty Republicans rebelled against the bill crafted by their own party. While the bill vastly increased work requirements, many Republicans felt it was still too lenient.


The far-right group in Congress known as the Freedom Caucus took credit for defeating the bill and humiliating speaker Paul Ryan as he heads off into the sunset. They voted against it because other Republicans rejected a deal in which the Freedom Caucus would vote for the Farm Bill in exchange for bringing an immigration reform bill to the floor for a vote. That immigration bill, HR 4760, makes dramatic reductions in the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year--- a bill that representatives from parts of the U.S. with large numbers of agricultural workers as well as high tech workers find impossible to support.


It’s back to the drawing board now for the 5-year omnibus legislation that authorizes funding both for SNAP and for farm payments. It should be noted that the Farm Bill also includes a wide variety of payments to farmers that impact both the small- and large-scale growing operations of our country. Programs that are relatively small in percentage of overall farm bill funding, such as Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (a major Market Match funding source), Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development, Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers Program, and others.


While many of the changes were pitched as ways of getting more people to work, there’s far more evidence that the new rules would save funds because people simply couldn’t comply with them and would be dropped from food assistance. The new rules would have expanded already-existing work requirements to include people with kids over 6 years old (as well as an adult with no kids, already subject to work requirements) and would have expanded the age of people required to work 20 hours per week from 50 years to 60 years old. The new rules, mandating 20 hours per week of work to continue receiving benefits, would have especially hurt the millions of Americans now working shifts that are subject to unannounced changes in the number of hours per week---large retail stores and restaurants among the businesses using these tactics. 

SSI Recipients and Allies Rally in Sacramento: Make Progress on Ability To Get Food Aid

Wednesday, May 16 was Hunger Action Day at the State Capitol, uniting anti-poverty groups from around the state including LA’s delegation from Hunger Action LA, LA CAN, Westside Food Bank, Santa Monica Farmers Market, St. Margaret’s Center and Community Services Unlimited, as well as California Association of Food Banks, California Food Policy Advocates, Alameda County Community Food Bank, and hosts of others from the Bay Area, Central Valley, San Diego, Central Coast and Northern California.


SSI recipients (Supplemental Security Income, for people blind, disabled or over 65) made up a large part of the contingent, for the primary legislation backed by the California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) this year is AB 3200 to restore the cost of living allowance to the state portion (SSP) of the below-poverty SSI benefit of a mere $915/month, and boost the current SSP significantly by $100 per month. The CHAC coalition also backed a budget measure to change the rules, unique to our state, that disallows SSI recipients from receiving SNAP (CalFresh.)


Southern California lawmakers Senator Holly Mitchell (South LA, Inglewood, Culver City) and Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (West Covina, South El Monte) roused the crowd with inspiring speeches on the rainy morning, before the legion of 300 or so participants broke into groups to enter the Capitol and visit all 40 Senators and 80 Assemblymembers (minus those currently suspended for sexual harassment and the like) to educate them on AB 3200, the budget proposal for ending “cash out” (the policy that keeps SSI recipients from getting CalFresh), and several other important bills (including requiring charter schools to offer food to kids as public schools are required to do.)

LA’s Hunger Action Day contingent

Only a day later, the Senate Budget Subcommittee, currently working on counterproposals to the Governor’s budget revise released on Friday the 11th, approved ending “cash out” and opening up the possibility that after many years, SSI recipients will indeed be able to get badly needed food aid. There’s still a road ahead for the proposal, but things will move quickly as the June 15 midnight budget deadline creeps up.


The Governor’s budget revise mentioned that the state has a $9 billion surplus this year, which the Governor is loathe to spend and intends to keep much in the “Rainy Day Fund” (an expression which should be renamed appropriately to California, the “Drought Fund” or “Hideously Dry and Hot Day Fund.”). The Governor’s proposal does include funding for ending homelessness.


The intrepid visitors from SoCal were able to hammer home some points to the elected and their staffs:

*that boosting SSI income by $100 per month will create an economic stimulus, as the overall grant is still so small it would be spent entirely by recipients, at the grocer, landlord and pharmacist;

*that SSI recipients with diet-related diseases cost the state tens of thousands per year in health care costs, which could be prevented with a smaller investment in food-specific income like CalFresh;

*that an additional $100 per month could help prevent homelessness by allowing SSI recipients to deal with high rents

*that for many years, the state budget was balanced on the back of the 1.3 million senior, disabled and blind SSI recipients, as the various Governors would not pass through a cost of living allowance, and actively cut the grant over the years by $82 per month or so cumulatively.


While the assorted Californians dropped into Capitol offices, other colleagues at home worked the phones generating calls to the Governor specifically on the SSI issue. Stay tuned as more activism in person and on the horn will be requested to finally achieve justice for our brothers and sisters who survive, barely, on the SSI monthly payments.

Farm Bill Party With A Purpose May 31—Help Hunger Action LA!

(Many thanks to our friends at the LA Food Policy Council)


Come learn how the Farm Bill shapes food in Los Angeles and how Angelenos can take action for good food for all. Los Angeles Food Policy Council welcomes you to party with a purpose at Greenbar Distillery in the Arts District of Downtown LA. You will enjoy a specially crafted farm to table craft cocktail, enjoy local eats by chef Minh Phan and X'Tiousu,  connect with food advocates, and raise funds for Hunger Action LA!


Ticket prices vary. All are welcome. 

When: Thursday, May 31, 2018, 6:30 - 9 pm

Where: Greenbar Distillery

2459 East 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021


Food and all-inclusive tickets include:

Delicious eats by Chef Minh Phan and the brothers from X’Tiousu who are teaming up to provide global fusion cuisine with ingredients sourced from local farmers of color.

Minh Phan is the chef-owner of porridge + puffs. Her new brick + mortar is coming to Hi-Fi (Historic Fillipinotown) early this summer.

X’Tiousu is an Oaxacan-Middle Eastern Restaurant operated and owned by the Santiago brothers, Felipe and Ignacio, in Boyle Heights.

LA CAN: Job Opening for Fresh Food Access Program

Job Title: Pop Up Market Retail Associate

Reports To: Executive Director and Market Coordinator

FLSA Status: Non-Exempt Part-Time (20 hours/week)


The Pop-Up Produce Market is a program which provides direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income and under-represented populations with limited access to safe quality and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The Pop-Up Market Retail Associate is responsible for supporting the weekly market in Downtown LA through outreach, set up, staffing, and breakdown. The associate will work closely with the Market Coordinator and other LA CAN members who work collectively to ensure a successful market.


Local, low-income residents will receive early notification and a preferential hiring period for this position.


Please send a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

LA Homeless Services Authority Holds Listening Sessions on Black Homelessness: June 7 and June 14

From LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA): 40% of people experiencing homelessness in LA County are Black, although Black people make up only 9% of the county’s total population.LAHSA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness is conducting listening sessions throughout LA County to understand the barriers Black people may face when trying to exit homelessness.


Two sessions have been held. The remaining sessions:

Thursday June 7 , 3 to 5 pm, Broadway Manchester Service Center, 8525 S. Broadway LA

Thursday June 14, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, Holman United Methodist Church, White Hall 3320 W Adams Blvd., LA

More information

State Officials Want To Limit Grassroots Food Groups: Call Senators Now to Oppose

Assembly Bill 2178 (Limon) appears at first to be a common sense bill about food safety, allowing the Health Dept. to shut down feeding operations if there’s an outbreak of foodborne illness. The bill indeed already passed the Assembly and is headed to the Senate.


But a closer examination reveals the bill seems to be targeting the various grassroots charitable feeding operations in the community, such as Food Not Bombs and Break the Ban, who called national attention when they were arrested for feeding the homeless in El Cajon.


Amongst the actions not currently required by the state, for example, is one that would force these groups, who often operate spontaneously based on available food supplies and volunteers, to register with the local Health Department.


Amendments recently offered to the bill actually make it worse, by requiring charitable food groups to operate only 4 times per month and to only serve packaged foods.

This would end the ability of Californians, seeking to reduce people’s reliance on government programs and seeking to help those with no ability to cook and store food, in the midst of the worst homeless crisis ever, to help their fellow Californians in need.


Please call Southern California Senate Health Committee members Dr. Ed Hernandez (916) 651 4022 and Senator Holly Mitchell (916) 651 4030 and ask them to NOT pass AB 2178  if it contains amendments that would limit charitable feeding operations to feeding pre-packaged food, to operate a limited number of times per month, or to register with the local Health Department. Let them know it is coming to the Health Committee soon.

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