Food for People

The Food Bank for Humboldt County
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Advocacy

We envision a community where everyone understands the consequences of hunger and poor nutrition and is committed to creating a stronger, healthier Humboldt County

This is why Food for People advocates for policies and strategies that reduce poverty and hunger and support access to nutritious foods and good health.

Ending hunger is no small challenge. Food banks play a critical role, but we can’t do it alone. Fighting hunger is not only about providing emergency food to people in need – it also means taking action to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Our Advocacy Program works with the program participants, advocacy volunteers, partner organizations, statewide allies, and legislative representatives to advocate for policies, programs, and legislation that reduce both poverty and hunger at the federal, state and local levels.

Subscribe to our bimonthly Hunger Action E-Newsletter

Keep up on issues at the forefront of hunger and nutrition policy. Each E-Newsletter includes ways to take action and use your voice to make change. We welcome you to peruse back issues too.

Get involved locally during Hunger Action Month

And carry some of the ideas and actions of Hunger Action Month all year long.

Travel with us to the State Capitol for Hunger Action Day

Support legislation that is critical to reducing hunger and poverty. Tell your story, share your experience, and help us communicate the unique needs and challenges of our community.

Get familiar with our allies and coalitions in California and nationwide

They provide a wealth of resources, tools, and background on our collective advocacy work. Links are included as you scroll down on this page.

Learn about the policies and legislation that we have our eyes on (including the ones below...)

Then click on the links we provide to easy-to-use tools for making your voice heard on the issues.

The Farm Bill

The federal policies that are crafted within the Farm Bill shape the landscape of food and agriculture for the entire nation. Of particular concern for food banks and anti-hunger organizations is the Nutrition Title, which sets funding and regulations for critical nutrition assistance programs like SNAP, known as CalFresh in California. The current Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, 2018. As Congress drafts the next Farm Bill, advocates are working to protect SNAP from funding cuts and changes in eligibility that will cause people to lose benefits. Check out the following resources to learn more:

The House Agricultural Committee’s Draft of the Farm Bill will Cause Millions to Lose SNAP Benefits

The 2018 Farm Bill proposal released by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) contains harmful proposals that would weaken SNAP. This bill has passed out of committee and will move the floor for a full vote. Among the most damaging proposals in the bill is the repeal of "Categorical Eligibility". California, and most other states, have used this policy option for years to protect low-wage working families from having their CalFresh benefits cut off when they work a few more hours and earn just a little more take home pay  when most of those household earnings must go toward California's sky-high housing, child care, and transportation costs. The proposed changes would also sever the connection to free school meals for thousands of California children.

 

CalFresh for Non-Citizens & "Public Charge"

"Public Charge" is defined by the federal government as follows: In determining inadmissibility, “public charge” is defined as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” Being classified as a Public Charge may hurt chances of becoming a U.S. citizen in the future. This has typically only applied to cash aid programs and NOT programs such as SNAP/CalFresh, WIC, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, etc.

On September 22, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security published a press release announcing proposed updates to the Public Charge rules (full text of draft here) under which programs that have previously been excluded, such as SNAP, Medicaid, and Section 8 Housing, would now qualify as a "public charge" in immigration proceedings. While nothing has changed yet, we are aware that this announcement is already having a negative impact on the communities we serve. The update has not yet posted to the Federal Register (as of 9/28/18).  The public comment period will open on the date of the official version’s publication.

Organizations that have non-federal funding may be able to make comments in the Federal Register, and you can also comment as private citizens.

The Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign, co-chaired by the National Immigration Law Center and CLASP, will be providing regular updates via their listserv. You can subscribe and check updates at https://www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/.  Additional information can be found at https://www.nilc.org/.

 

Protecting Safety Net Programs

CalFresh (SNAP at the federal level) reduced hunger in every California county, but potential changes at the federal level could lead to a cut in benefits. The program helps approximately 4 million families put food on the table. SNAP lifts families out of poverty and has been shown to improve children’s health and well being. Cutting federal funding for SNAP would plunge families into poverty, and children could be deprived of the nutrition necessary to stay healthy and reach their full potential. Click here to read more from the California Budget & Policy Center.

Click here to view/download our informational flyer on the impacts of potential federal SNAP cuts in Humboldt County. This includes information for who to contact to voice your opinion.

Click here to view/download our informational flyer on the impacts of potential federal cuts to the Affordable Care Act in Humboldt County and California. This includes information for who to contact to voice your opinion.

 

Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2017

This bill increases SNAP benefit adequacy by:

  • Calclating SNAP benefits using the "Low-Cost Food Plan" rather than the "Thrifty Food Plan" which has been the national standard the USDA uses for a nutritious diet at a minimal cost;
  • Eliminates the cap on the SNAP Excess Shelter Deduction (housing costs that are more than half of the household's income after other deductions calculated in the eligibility process);
  • Raising the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $25 per month;
  • Authorizing a SNAP Standard Excess Medical Deduction for persons who are elderly or have a disability;
  • Protecting certain jobless adults, who are willing to work, from being time-limited out of SNAP if the state does not offer them SNAP Employment & Training positions.

Click here to view the bill online.

 

Raising SSI payments: Take Action to Lift California Seniors and Persons with Disabilities out of Poverty

In California, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), combined with the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for food, is a program funded jointly by the Federal and State governments to provide income support to seniors and people with disabilities. Low SSI/SSP grant levels leave many California seniors and people with disabilities struggling to meet their basic needs. Many find that after paying rent they have little, if anything, left for food, medical expenses, transportation and clothing, and can't afford to take care of basic needs like doing laundry or buying personal hygeine items. SSI/SSP has experienced cuts over the years, and the maximum grant for individuals is currently $910.72 per month, which is 90 percent of the federal poverty line. These cuts remain in place today and cause a great deal of hardship for approximately 6,000 Humboldt County seniors and people with disabilities, and a total of 1.5 million people across the state.

Click here to learn more from the California Budget & Policy Center about the potential impact on SSI/SSP if federal cuts are made to this program.

Please consider supporting a proposal to help seniors and people with disabilities experiencing poverty in California by signing a petition asking state legislators and policymakers to increase SSI/SSP grant levels. Click here to do so. (This is a statewide campaign, with the petition hosted by St. Anthony's in San Francisco.)

The status quo--keeping SSI/SSP grant levels the way they are--means keeping recipients in poverty with high risk of becoming houseless, hungry and in poor health. If legislation were enacted to raise SSI/SSP benefit amounts above the poverty line, it would lift 1.5 million California seniors and persons with disabilities out of poverty

California Budget Bites submitted this blog on the topic to the Sacramento Bee.

The California Budget and Policy Center published this fact sheet in March 2015 comparing current SSI/SSP grant levels to each California county's fair market rent for a studio apartment. The county-by-county list shows how little money is left for SSI recipients after paying rent. In addition, they published this fact sheet in March 2016, showing how SSI/SSP benefit levels are inadequate to cover the cost of rent and food for seniors and people with disabilities in California.

Share Their Stories: Visit the website of the advocacy group CA4SSI to learn about the advocacy group's work, read, watch, and listen to stories about SSI recipients living on insufficient SSI benefits, and find out how to take action. Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) put together a powerful series of "SSI Listening Sessions" #IfOnlyYouKnew videos, in which food bank clients talk about what it's like to be a senior or person with a disability in California, living on insufficient SSI benefits. Their personal stories are powerful and shared amongst SSI recipients all over the state. Learn more by viewing the clips below and visit ACCFB's webpage for their #IfOnlyYouKnew campaign for Hunger Action Month.

 

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) Act authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and WIC. These programs provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods where they live, play, and learn. Reauthorization provides an opportunity to improve and strengthen programs. Research demonstrates the ability of the child nutrition programs to improve educational achievement, economic security, nutrition and health.

The law is reauthorized by Congress every five years. It was last reauthorized as the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and is up again for reauthorization in 2015. The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee will both take the lead in the reauthorization process. The Committees will each work on the legislation, taking input from other members of the Senate and House of Representatives. They then will merge their bills to develop one final bill.

Learn more at Food Research & Action Center's CNR page and at No Kid Hungry (Share Our Strength). As Reathorization approaches, another great place to keep up is California Food Policy Advocates' CNR page.

 

Hunger, Nutrition, and Poverty on the State Policy Agenda

California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) share their State Policy Agenda. You can also follow the progress and status of proposed legislation on hunger, nutrition and poverty by visiting their Hunger Legislation Tracker.

Our allies at California Food Policy Advocates also share their State Policy Agenda.

 

CalFresh Advocacy Partners at the State and National Levels:

The Alliance to Transform CalFresh contains a wealth of information about improving CalFresh participation in California, with resources and information on opportunities for advocating for improvements state-wide.

California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) has a great website if you're interested in legislative advocacy. Their CalFresh page will tell you everything you need to know about upcoming legislative advocacy priorities, recommendations for improving the applicant experience and links to their reports and data.

The Food Research and Action Center has a ton of advocacy-oriented imformation about SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--or what CalFresh is known as at the federal level), including data, resources and publications.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a leading resource for data on SNAP and how legislative actions affect the program's participants and potential participants. Learn about some of the policy basics and introductory statistics, such as that nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children, and more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities, and go further with their many interesting analyses and reports.

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds. Join any of their specific campaigns to end hunger for children, seniors, military families, and beyond, and learn more about hunger policy and advocacy work.

 

As hunger-related legislative advocacy opportunities arise, we will post simple instructions on how to get involved and make your voice heard.