Lauren Lathan Reid, Lauren@cafoodbanks.org | (415) 200-9468
Frank Tamborello, email@example.com | (213) 361-2075
California Hunger Action Coalition Says Hunger Is Still An Emergency
Community Members from Across California Advocate May 15th -19th, 2023
[Sacramento, CA – May 9, 2023] – California residents with low incomes and anti-hunger advocates will be meeting virtually and in person during the third week of May (May 15th – 19th) to send a message to their lawmakers in the state capital that hunger is still an emergency. The hunger cliff resulting from the end of pandemic-related assistance and food inflation (9.9% in 2022) are contributing to record-high hunger rates and sustained increases in demand at food banks and other providers. The call to action is for the legislature to prioritize investments that can put a halt to the hunger crisis in California.
Frank Tamborello, Director of Hunger Action LA, a CHAC member organization, sums up the need for advocacy: “A hunger crisis is descending on California. There is a lot of work to do but the most important thing is to not wait, to at least pick up the phone or shoot off an email, to educate ourselves to what possible solutions are and coalesce with others working on them.”
The last CalFresh Emergency Allotments were issued in March of this year. The loss of these benefits that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts five million Californians who receive CalFresh, resulting in a loss of $500 million in benefits statewide and a loss of up to $900 million in economic activity statewide. On average, people in California are losing $84 in benefits per month. Furthermore, Pandemic-EBT, which has provided extra benefits to school-aged and young children, will be ending after this school year. In the 2020–21 school year alone, Pandemic-EBT reached nearly 4.2 million children in California, with over $6.1 billion in benefits issued. College students will also face further restrictions to accessing CalFresh after June 2023.
Meg Davidson, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, which is a California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) member, laid out the context for the week, “Pandemic-era policies and funding are ending, but every day we see the harsh reality that hunger is not. Tens of thousands of our neighbors continue to rely on food banks like ours to fill the critical gaps in their household food budgets as inflation and high costs erode their buying power at the grocery store. Protecting and strengthening critical safety net programs is our biggest focus, and we need stable multi-year funding to continue to meet this surge in need. We call on our lawmakers at the state level to prioritize this fundamental human right in this year’s budget and legislative cycle.”
The California Hunger Action Coalition, an alliance of dozens of food banks, community-based organizations, statewide policy groups, and people with low incomes who rely on government assistance for survival, is organizing Hunger Action Week – five days of legislative visits covering as many of the 120 California Assemblymembers and Senators as possible.
SB 600 is the top item on the group’s agenda. This bill, authored by Senator Caroline Menjivar, would increase the minimum CalFresh benefit from the current $23 to $50, using state funding. During the pandemic, CalFresh recipients in single-person households received at least $281 per month in benefits due to the CalFresh Emergency Allotments.