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.

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

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

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.

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.

 

Legislation we have our eyes on:

 

Proposed Change to SNAP Standard Utility Allowance: Submit Comment Here

If implemented, the third proposed SNAP rule change of 2019 could result in $4.5 billion in cuts to food assistance over five years. SNAP (known as CalFresh in California), which is administered by the USDA, is recognized as the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. USDA's proposed rule on SNAP Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances (SUA) would cut program benefits by changing how states take households’ utility costs into account in determining the amount of SNAP benefits for which they qualify.

Utility costs vary nationwide, impacting households' food budgets from state to state disproportionately. The current law acknowledges that by allowing states to level the playing field, so that in the SNAP benefit determination process, households in states that have higher utility costs can take those higher costs into account in determining net income, and not miss out on SNAP benefits due to having higher utility costs than households in a different region of the country. The newly proposed rule would standardize SUA calculations nationwide (no state-by-state adjustments) and set the SUA to an amount lower than what would be needed to meet the costs of utilities for many Californians.

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, its impact on hunger, and how to take action. 

 

CalFresh for Non-Citizens & "Public Charge"

STATUS UPDATE Oct 11, 2019: 

On October 11th, 2019, three federal judges issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking this rule from going into effect October 15th, 2019. While we wait for a permanent injunction, this means that it will continue to be safe, after Oct 15th, for non-citizens to access nutrition, housing, medical benefits, and more, and it will not impact public charge determination (and thus ability to become a U.S. citizen in the future). The Administration will likely challenge the judge's decicion on appeal, so stay tuned. Click here to read the official 24-page ruling.

History of the proposed new rule

On August 14, 2019 the new rule regarding public charge was posted to the federal register, and it was intended to go into effect 60 days later, on October 15, 2019. Law suits were filed by states and counties, and they were successful at receiving a nationwide temporary injunction from 3 federal judges, to block the rule from going into effect for the timebeing. Please stay tuned for updates.

What was the difference between the longstanding rule and the proposed new rule? In the past public charge determination has typically applied to use of cash aid programs and long-term care institutionalization and NOT programs such as SNAP/CalFresh, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, etc., which were included in the proposed new rule. 

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, who it applies to, and many additional resource links.

 

Proposed Change to SNAP Categorical Eligibility

At the federal level, a rule has been proposed that would kick 3 million people off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as CalFresh, in California), the nation's first line of defense against hunger. Broad Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) has been an option offered to states for several years now by the federal government, allowing them to raise SNAP income limits somewhat--from 130% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) to 200% of the FPL-- so that many low-income working families that have difficulty making ends meet, such as because they face costly housing or childcare expenses, can receive help affording adequate food. The newly proposed federal rule would undo the successes of BBCE. 

SNAP eligibility is based upon earnings at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). For a family of four, the FPL is $33,600/year, not taking into account the varying cost of living based on geography and family composition/ages. A family of four would need to earn a minimum of $62,331 to be self-sufficient in Eureka, CA--a difference of nearly $30,000 between qualifying for nutrition assistance and reaching self-sufficiency. In between are all the families who work and struggle to put food on the table but earn a little bit too much to qualify for nutrition assistance.

BBCE and School Meals: Children in households that receive SNAP because of BBCE are directly certified to receive free lunches and breakfasts at school without completing an additional application. As many as 982,000 children will be impacted by the loss of BBCE. About half would have to pay a reduced price of 40 cents for school lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. Around 40,000 would need to pay the full price, which varies depending on the district. The rest — 445,000 — would remain eligible for free meals, but their families would have to file an application for it, which not all would do.

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, who it applies to, and its impact on hunger.

 

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 particularconcern 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)
  • TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) which supplies commodity foods to food banks and is a lifeline for households ineligible for SNAP.
  • CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) for low-income seniors age 60+, which helps support seniors' health and ability to remain in their homes.

The current five-year Farm Bill (also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) was reauthorized and signed into law on December 20, 2018. As each Farm Bill goes through the legislative process of renewing, advocates work to protect SNAP from funding cuts and changes in eligibility that will cause people to lose benefits. The 2018 Farm Bill continues decades of bi-partisan support for SNAP and other federal nutrition programs. Congress deliberated and rejected many harmful provisions that would have taken food out of the mouths of low-income households that rely on SNAP. SNAP (CalFresh in California) is our first line of defense against hunger, providing 12 meals for every one distributed by food banks. 

This legislation will continue to face proposals to restrict access to SNAP, and there will be opportunities to work toward strengthening SNAP and the nutrition safety net proven to fight hunger and provide long-term health and economic benefits to communities both here in California and across the country.

Check out the following resources to learn more:

 

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. 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.

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.

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, its impact on hunger, and how to take action. View short videos of SSI recipients sharing their stories too.

 

 

 

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,  Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs, and WIC. These successful, cost-

effective federal child nutrition programs ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods where they live, play, and learn and play a critical role in helping children in low-income families achieve access to quality nutrition, childcare, educational and enrichment activities while improving their overall health, development, and academic school achievement. 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 expired on September 30, 2015. However, the vast majority of program operations have continued with funding provided by appropriations acts. In the CNR process, Congress makes changes, additions, and deletions to the permanent statues that authorize child nutrition programs. The major programs include:

  • National School Lunch Program
  • School Breakfast Program
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • Summer Food Service Program
  • Special Milk Program
  • WIC

Participating children receive subsidized meals, snacks, and/or milk, which may be free or at reduced price for those eligible. States and food-serving institutions (such as schools, food bank programs, etc.) receive federal reimbursements for the food served. WIC provides eligible women, infants, and children (under five years old) with specific supplemental foods as well as services.

Learn more at Food Research & Action Center's CNR page and at No Kid Hungry. Another 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 (CFPA) share their:

 

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 information 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.

 

Every September is Hunger Action Month

Get involved locally during Hunger Action Month, and carry some of the ideas and actions of Hunger Action Month all year long.

 

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