Our advocacy helps nourish our fellow Californians by generating more than $2 billion in new nutrition resources each year. In each of the past three decades, we’ve led high-impact campaigns that connect individuals and families with the food they need to thrive:
In the 1990s, we co-led the effort to create a state-funded nutrition assistance program for immigrants. Each month, the program reaches tens of thousands of Californians who are shut out of the equivalent federally funded program.
In the 2000s, we led advocacy campaigns to remove barriers that prevented nearly 2 million Californians from accessing what was then known as “food stamps.” We helped transform the program into what’s now known as CalFresh. Today, more than 4 million Californians utilize CalFresh.
In the 2010s, we led the charge to create a paperless school meal enrollment system. Today, California enrolls more than 3 million students into free and reduced-price meal programs each year. We didn’t stop there—we harnessed automatic enrollment to guarantee that all students in California’s highest poverty schools have access to free breakfast and lunch each school day.
In the 2020s, we’re deploying our advocacy skills to reduce harm in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, both of which are deepening health and food access inequities across California. The COVID-19 crisis does not need to be a hunger crisis.
California Food Policy Advocates transforms into Nourish California
Policy Action During a Pandemic
Worked with the State, Code for America, and stakeholders across CA to help connect 3.9 million children with more than $1 billion in nutrition assistance (P-EBT) designed for students affected by COVID-driven school closures.
Resisting Anti-Immigrant Policies
Fought hard against immigration proposals that promoted fear, not food. When the federal administration proposed a new harmful rule on public charge, we engaged communities in pushing back through public comments and partnered with research experts to produce a widely cited analysis that assessed the impact of the rule on immigrant Californians and our state at large.
Persistence Pays Off
Led the policy campaign that finally guaranteed low-income students in charter schools equitable access to free and reduced-price school meals. A critical milestone in the movement to provide all California kids with equitable access to the nutritious food they need.
Led the campaign to guarantee free breakfast and lunch to all students in our highest poverty schools and expand paperless enrollment in free & reduced-price school meals. The culmination of our decade-long effort to connect nutrition and healthcare, building California's dramatic expansion of Medi-Cal.
With thousands of low-income households living without safe tap water, we led the effort to provide a water benefit to CalFresh households affected by failing public water systems. An important, short-term approach while Californians wait for long-term solutions to accessing safe drinking water.
Pilot to Policy
Continued our efforts to connect children with nutrition and healthcare by working with the Department of Education to successfully implement a 14-district pilot using existing Medi-Cal data to automatically enroll more than 240,000 eligible students in free school meals.
Addressing True Levels of Need
Continued our leadership on removing barriers to CalFresh nutrition assistance by successfully advocating higher income eligibility thresholds for the program. A change particularly helpful to working Californians who could otherwise fall into the harmful gap between a living wage and program eligibility.
Protecting Good Policy
Fought against federal legislation to undermine the "Heat and Eat" program and successfully advocated state legislation to keep it in place.
Led the successful effort to establish nutrition training for individuals seeking child care licensure. Part of our efforts to bolster the child care workforce and help children get the nutritious food they deserve when in care.
Struggled to find consensus on addressing the sale of items like soda, candy, and ice cream by mobile vendors outside of schools. Instead, we explored the impact of mobile food vending on students and school meal programs through a survey of voters and a series of micro-documentaries.
Sweeping CalFresh Success
Led sweeping policy changes to CalFresh, moving California to semi-annual reporting, eliminating finger imaging, and implementing a "Heat and Eat" program. This monumental effort capped a decade-long campaign to remove barriers that prevented millions of Californians from accessing billions in much-needed nutrition assistance.
More CalFresh Reforms
Sponsored the successful legislation allowing for the streamlined CalFresh enrollment of eligible seniors through data sharing with the Social Security Administration. And led the successful campaign calling for USDA to reject California's request to extend the most burdensome CalFresh reporting process in the country.
Reformed and Rebranded
Celebrated the launch of CalFresh, California's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the culmination of our successful legislative, research, and design efforts.
Water for Kids
Led the successful campaign to guarantee that K-12 students have access to free drinking water during meal times.
Healthy Beverages in Child Care
Led the campaign to establish statewide nutrition standards for beverages served in licensed child care facilities.
Sponsored legislation that removed the asset test, which had required food stamp applicants to spend down even modest savings before they could get nutrition assistance. This changed a policy that helped keep hundreds of thousands of Californains locked in economic insecurity.
Secured authorization to use Medi-Cal data in directly certifying students for free school meals, reducing the application burden and bureaucratic hoops for families.
More Meal Money
Successfully advocated an increase in state-funded reimbursement for school meals alongside increased expectations for nutritional quality.
Single adults (without children) were long subject to inequitable, locally-driven decisions about access to nutrition assistance. We helped end unfair practices by requiring California to seek all possible federal authorization that allows continued nutrition assistance for single adults (without children) in areas of the state with high unemployment rates.
Launching the Incentive Movement
With the passage of the Healthy Purchase Pilot we put a first-in-nation policy in place for households using Food Stamp benefits to buy fresh produce. This effort inspired a host of similar efforts across the country, including the national Healthy Incentives Program. It also paved the way for current and future state supplemental CalFresh benefit projects.
Launched the Stampy Awards to honor efforts aimed at improving the Food Stamp Program in California. Now called the “Freshys,” these awards have honored the great work of more than one hundred individuals and inspired others to take action.
First Step on the Path to Paper-Free
Led school enrollment into the modern age with the passage of AB 1385, establishing a computer data matching system to directly certify students for free school meals if they receive CalWORKs or Food Stamps. This was a first step in the movement toward hunger-free schools.
Fresh Start to the School Day
Designed and successfully advocated the creation of the California Fresh Start Program which doubled the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables offered during school breakfast.
Co-founded ENACT Day, the first lobby day in California to focus on improving health through policy on nutrition and physical activity. The event continues, bringing thousands of people over the years to raise their voices at the state capitol.
Removing Barriers to Food Stamps
Sponsored AB 231, establishing transitional food stamp benefits for former CalWORKs recipients, removing vehicle value from the asset test, and requiring county consideration of applicant hardships that might inhibit in-office interviews.
Thanks to our advocacy, questions about food insecurity were added to the largest health interview survey in the country, CA Health Interview Survey (CHIS). We partnered with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research to publish the first assessment of food insecurity in California's 58 counties. The CHIS food insecurity data continues to shape policies and programs across CA.
Successfully advanced legislation to simplify California's lengthy and confusing Food Stamp Program application.
Leading by Convening
Co-sponsored the first Food Stamp Forum with the California Department of Social Services.
Countering Anti-Immigrant Policy
Co-sponsored legislation creating the California Food Assistance Program that provides nutrition benefits to documented immigrants barred from the federal Food Stamp Program.
Resisting Harsh Time Limits
Successfully advocated to keep 136,000 single adults eligible for the Food Stamp Program in California.
Amplifying Voices Against Hunger
Supported the first Hunger Action Lobby Day, bringing constituent voices to the state capitol.
Stymied dozens of punitive state proposals with the Bad Bills campaign.
Protecting Public Nutrition Programs
Partnered with other advocates to protect public nutrition programs against the Congressional Contract with America.
Expanding School Breakfast
Advocated for $3 million in breakfast start-up funds, resulting in over 160,000 students at 300 schools gaining access to the School Breakfast Program.
Promotion Through Partnership
Joined with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation to enroll more districts in the School Breakfast Program.
Emergency Food Providers
Helped establish San Francisco's first collaboration of emergency food providers.
California Food Policy Advocates
Nourish California was founded as California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) to prevent hunger and improve nutrition for Californians with low income.