Final State Budget Invests in Nutrition Safety Net, but More is Needed

Published on Jun 29, 2023 in Adults, CalFresh, Child Nutrition, Immigrants, Older Adults, School-Aged Children, Young Children

This week, the Legislature passed a series of budget bills that collectively represent the 2023-24 State Budget. Though certain adjustments may still be made to allocations later in the legislative session, the budget deal struck between the Administration and Legislature preserves funding levels and support for most major safety net programs. We extend our thanks to the Governor and state budget leaders, Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, Senate Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner, outgoing Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting for their strong commitment to strengthening the safety net and working to reduce poverty and hunger in the Golden State.

We are very pleased that major cuts were avoided, but the final budget still falls short of the transformative investments needed to address the level of hunger and inequity faced by Californians with low and moderate income. Especially in such times of economic downturn, it is vital that the state continue to invest in programs and services that foster equity and make California a state for ALL. 

Given the unprecedented hunger crisis that millions of Californians are still facing, state leaders must continue to prioritize bold, equity-centered investments in essential services and the long-term nutrition safety net.  We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Newsom administration throughout the remainder of the session and next year to secure much-needed investments that will help struggling families, older adults, people with disabilities, immigrants, and all Californians afford the foods they need.

Below is a summary of the Governor’s budget proposals with respect to food and nutrition.

Food and Nutrition 

Food4All/CFAP Expansion

The 2023-24 Budget does not include new investments to expand the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for Californians ages 54 and under, regardless of immigration status. However, it does finalize the  implementation timeline for this historic expansion. Food benefits are anticipated to be available to those age 55 and over, regardless of immigration status, beginning October 2025 instead of January 2027 as proposed in the Governor’s January budget. Nourish California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All Coalition thank the Administration and Legislature for prioritizing the timely expansion of CFAP eligibility for those 55 and over, and look forward to working together to ensure access to CFAP food benefits for Californians of ALL ages, regardless of immigration status.  

Take Action: Join the Food4All Campaign to expand CFAP to income-eligible Californians of all ages, regardless of immigration status. No exceptions. No exclusions. No delays.


Nourish California and our anti-hunger partners thank the Governor and Legislature for making crucial one-time investments to help address the CalFresh benefits cliff and the elevated level of hunger Califorians are facing. We especially thank Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, Chair of Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services, and Senator Caroline Menjivar, Chair of Budget Subcommittee #3 on Human Services, for being such strong champions of the CalFresh investments in this year’s state budget.

California Fruit & Vegetable Supplemental Benefits Pilot Extension

We are pleased that the 2023-24 Budget includes $9.4 million in one-time funding to extend the Fruit & Vegetable Pilot through 2026. This will allow this innovative pilot to continue providing up to $60/month in supplemental CalFresh benefits to participants shopping at one of the 90 authorized pilot retailers. We thank Assemblymember Arambula and Senator Wiener for their leadership to secure this critical bridge funding.

The implementing trailer bill language also directs the Department of Social Services to prepare a report to the Legislature outlining the feasibility and timeline for expanding the pilot statewide.

CalFresh Safe Drinking Water Pilot Extension

We are also very pleased that the final budget includes funding to continue the CalFresh Safe Drinking Water Pilot for at least 12 additional months. This will ensure that the nearly 4,000 households currently receiving a supplemental benefit to help defray the cost of bottled water do not see a second sudden cut to their CalFresh allotments in October. 

We look forward to working with the Administration and Legislature the remainder of the session and next year to extend and expand this vital food and water assistance to more impacted communities in the Central Valley.

CalFresh Minimum Benefit Increase to $50/Month 

Nourish California, California Association of Food Banks, GRACE End Child Poverty CA, and Hunger Action Los Angeles are extremely grateful to the Administration and Legislature for agreeing to fund the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot Program, a $15 million pilot program to raise monthly minimum food benefits to $50 from the current minimum of $23. We especially thank Senator Menjivar for her tireless work to accomplish this major program improvement that will put food on the table while preparing for an eventual statewide expansion.

California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP)

The budget includes $35 million one-time funding to support CNIP, a program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match for CalFresh shoppers purchasing California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets.

Federal Reimbursement of Food Benefit Theft (Skimming & Scamming)

The federal Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2023 mandated the federal reimbursement of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefit theft. The final budget includes $42.9 million federal financial participation for associated administration and automation activities, as proposed in the May Revision.

Take Action: Join the Campaign to Boost CalFresh Benefits by extending and expanding successful supplemental benefit programs and by raising the minimum benefit to $50 per month.

Other Nutrition Supports

Emergency Food 

The final budget maintains funding for the CalFood program at $60 million one-time, enabling food banks to distribute California-grown foods. We are grateful to the Governor and Legislature for this investment, and urge the state to provide this funding ongoing in order to address the ongoing elevated need across the state. 

School Meals and Summer EBT

The budget includes the additional support for the state’s Universal Free School Meals program as proposed in the Governor’s May Revision. The proposal also reflects investments to help account for rising food and operational costs that may affect the viability of school nutrition programs.

We applaud the Administration for this commitment to health, well being, and learning among all kids in California public schools. We’ll continue to monitor investments in school nutrition as the state budget negotiations continue over the next few weeks. We are also pleased that the implementing language reflects the Governor’s and the Legislature’s commitment  that funding for meal reimbursements will remain secure, sustainable, and sufficient. We also continue to call on state budget leaders to ensure schools have the necessary resources and capacity to reach all students with nutritious, appealing, culturally appropriate meals.

The budget includes $47 million ($23.5 million General Fund) for outreach and automation costs to phase in a new federal Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program for children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals beginning summer 2024, as proposed in the May Revision.   

Take Action: Join the Campaign to Ensure Healthy Meals for Every Kid, Every Day

Early Care Nutrition

The final budget includes an 8.2% cost-of living adjustment for the Child and Adult Care Food Program.  The budget fails, however, to bring equity to child care nutrition programs by eliminating the state meal reimbursement rate gap that unjustly discriminates against providers feeding younger children in family child care settings.

Take Action: Join the Food with Care Campaign to ensure healthy meals for our youngest learners and full reimbursement for child care providers. 

Safety Net and Income Support 

Check back soon for a summary of the 2023-24 State Budget with respect to the broader social safety net.

What’s Next?

The Department of Finance will soon publish the final budget details on its website. While there may be adjustments to specific allocations later this session, the food and nutrition investments are likely final for this year.

We will take the next few months to assess our progress, identify new challenges and opportunities, and listen to Californians about their experiences meeting their basic needs. All of this will inform our priorities for 2024 and beyond.

We invite you to join us! The state budget reflects our collective values and priorities. Your advocacy can shape the state budget. Join our campaign actions and stay up to date by visiting our website and our Action Center: 

For more information, contact Jared Call at



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