2016 State Legislative Session Reflection

Published on Oct 11, 2016 in State Legislation


10.11.2016 The 2016 California legislative session recently concluded with action by the Governor on several items of interest to anti-hunger, anti-poverty and public health advocates. This session brought some key victories, including the passage of a statewide minimum wage increase through SB 3 (Leno & Leyva) and the state budget repeal of the CalWORKS Maximum Family Grant rule, which unjustly relegated hundreds of thousands of California’s most vulnerable children in deep poverty.

2016 Priorities

CFPA’s sponsored policy initiatives met with mixed success this year. We were thrilled that our state budget advocacy led to new state investments to improve access to school breakfast in high-need schools. We secured a new $2 million allocation for after-the-bell breakfast start-up and expansion grants that prioritize schools with at least 60% of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. link

Additionally, CFPA partnered with other advocates in the Drinking Water Advocacy Coalition to secure $10 million for schools to provide safe drinking water to students. PDF

Unfortunately, CFPA’s sponsored legislation, AB 2099 (Stone)- Safe Drinking Water for Food Insecure Families, and AB 2054 (Thurmond)- Summer EBT for Children, did not progress to the Governor’s desk. Though the legislature failed to act on these targeted nutrition bills, CFPA will continue efforts to ensure that nutrition programs provide an equitable solution to hunger in our state.

While AB 2054 was held by the Senate Appropriations committee, there is still work to be done. CFPA is committed to fighting child hunger with Summer EBT, a proven tool to close the summer nutrition gap. We know that Summer EBT works — and it should be at work in California. We will continue to advocate for federal leaders to expand opportunities for states to utilize this powerful tool, and to hold California leaders accountable for pursuing this much-needed solution.

CFPA will also continue to pursue the goals of AB 2099, to ensure that CalFresh recipients living without safe drinking water are not forced to stretch already meager food benefits to purchase safe water needed for drinking and cooking. We remain optimistic about opportunities to address this issues within the context of the State’s emergency drinking water response efforts.

There were a number of other hunger and nutrition-focused bills introduced by the Legislature this year. Out of the twenty-eight nutrition bills on CFPA’s support agenda, eleven bills of interest were signed into law by the Governor.

CFPA’s complete 2016 State Legislative Agenda can be viewed at the link. link

While the 2016 session produced more hunger-focused investments and policies than in recent years, many larger poverty issues were left on the table. The legislature did not take action to restore the deep cuts made to SSI/SSP benefits for the elderly and disabled, nor did they tackle the affordable housing crisis, one of the biggest factors pushing Californians into poverty. The high cost of living in California continues widen inequities, and California’s struggling families and the working poor often lack access to the support they need. The most recent Supplemental Poverty Census Data showed California -yet again- with the highest poverty rate in the nation, with over 20% of residents living in poverty once the cost of living and public benefits are taken into account. link

Looking Ahead

We must continue to push the State to do more for the millions of Californians who struggle with food insecurity. The federal nutrition programs are often the most powerful tools available to provide for the health and security of struggling residents. Recent analysis shows that food assistance programs (CalFresh, school meals, and WIC together) provide the largest share of total resources among safety-net programs, second only to earned income, for the poorest Californians. link

We appreciate the work and support of all the diverse stakeholders who supported CFPA’s legislative efforts, and applaud the successes of our partners. We will continue working together to identify policy solutions that improve the health and wellbeing of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food. Stay tuned for more!

Questions? Contact Tracey Patterson at tracey@cfpa.net or 510.433.1122 ext 101.


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