Governor Newsom’s January Budget Avoids Major Cuts to Food Assistance, but More Investments Are Needed

Published on Feb 1, 2024 in Adults, CalFresh, Child Nutrition, Immigrants, Older Adults, School-Aged Children, Young Children


On January 10, Governor Newsom introduced his 2024-25 State Budget proposal, which failed to make the major investments needed to address the level of hunger, poverty, and inequity faced by Californians with low and moderate income. While we recognize state revenues are predicted to fall short this year, it is in such times of economic downturn that the state must invest in programs and services that foster equity and make California a state for ALL. 

Families are struggling to put food on the table, older adults need support to age with dignity, and kids and college students deserve to learn, grow and thrive to reach their full potential. State leaders should make bold investments in essential services and the long-term safety net.  We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Newsom Administration this legislative session to secure much-needed investments in food and nutrition programs that will mitigate the alarming, persistent rates of hunger and hardship across our state.

Below are a number of highlights from the Governor’s budget proposal with respect to Food and Nutrition.

Food and Nutrition 

Food4All/CFAP Expansion

The Governor’s budget proposal does not include new investments to remove exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for Californians ages 54 and under, regardless of immigration status. Last year’s budget included a planned implementation date of October 2025, and the 2-24-25 proposal does not change that date. Nourish California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All campaign will continue to work with our legislative champions, the Legislature, and the Governor’s office to ensure timely access of CFAP benefits to 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 exception, No exclusions, No delays!

Emergency Food

The Governor’s budget proposal maintains $8 million ongoing for food banks to purchase California-grown and produced foods. Nourish California and our partners call on the Governor and Legislature to provide adequate ongoing funding to address the ongoing elevated need across the state. For more information, see the California Association of Food Banks’ budget statement

School Meals 

The Governor’s proposed budget continues to invest in students’ access to breakfast and lunch — free of charge — each school day. The Governor proposes a $112M increase in funding for universal school meals to keep serving all children in 2024–25.

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 process continues. We urge the Governor and the Legislature to guarantee that funding for meal reimbursements remains secure, sustainable, and sufficient. We also call on state budget leaders to ensure schools have the necessary resources and capacity to reach all students with nutritious, appealing, culturally appropriate meals.

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


The Governor’s budget proposal maintains $915,000 for automation and $15M to fund the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot, which will ensure participating households receive no less than $50 per month in CalFresh benefits.

The 2024-25 January budget also maintains funding to continue to operate the Safe Drinking Water Pilot and CalFresh Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot. However, without additional funding, these successful pilot projects will expire prematurely. That means participants will see a cut of $50 - $60 per month in the already inadequate CalFresh benefit allotments. Join us in calling on the Legislature and Governor to provide the necessary bridge funding to ensure no pilot participants see a cut to their vital food assistance.

There are no other proposed investments in CalFresh despite the rising rates of hunger and inadequate CalFresh benefit allotments. Join us in calling on the state to make CalFresh easier to enroll in and ensure benefit amounts are enough to last through the month.

Take Action: Join the Campaign to Boost CalFresh Benefits by extending successful supplemental benefit programs.

Early Care Nutrition

The Budget funding for the state meal reimbursement in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). We are pleased that the state reimbursement for CACFP will continue following its long-overdue restoration in 2020.  The proposed 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 2023 Campaign to ensure healthy meals for our youngest learners and full reimbursement for child care providers. 

Other Programs to Support Food and Nutrition

The Governor also proposes a reversion of $33.2 million for the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), a program administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The funding supports “Market Match” and other projects that provide matching funds to CalFresh shoppers at local farmers’ markets. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposed cut and fully fund CNIP as provided in the 2023-24 budget.

Below are a number of highlights from the Governor’s budget proposal with respect to the broader social safety net.

Safety Net and Income Support 


The proposed budget Proposes pursuing the “Work Participation Rate Pilot” in CalWORKs which is a vehicle to implement ReIMAGINE priorities, and proposes a 0.8% increase to CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payments. The Governor also proposes to utilize all of the $900 million Safety Net Reserve, intended to support CalWORKS and MediCal caseloads during difficult budget years. We are calling on the Governor to increase cash assistance to meet the true need among participants, without tapping the entire reserve. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) / State Supplementary Payment (SSP)

The proposed budget Maintains 9.2% SSP benefit increase (which augments SSI benefits), which took effect on Jan 1, 2024.

Health Care

Happily, the proposed budget maintains funding levels to expand full-scope Medi-Cal eligibility to all income-eligible adults ages 26 to 49 regardless of immigration status on January 1, 2024. We are very pleased that the Governor kept his commitment to expanding health care access to all immigrants. For more information, see the California Immigrant Policy Center’s budget statement.

Justice-Involved Individuals

The proposed budget also funds the Cal-AIM Justice Involved Individuals initiatives that seek to address poor health outcomes among justice-involved individuals. According to DHCS, “at least 80 percent of justice-involved individuals are eligible for Medi-Cal. CalAIM has the potential to make a significant difference in the health of this population.” Nourish California and our Thriving Transitions coalition partners are calling on state leaders to go further to connect justice-involved individuals with food and nutrition resources like CalFresh.

Take Action: Join the Thriving Transitions Campaign to support justice-impacted  Californians accessing food, housing, employment, and other support immediately upon and after release. 

What’s Next?

The Legislature has begun holding budget hearings to discuss the Governor’s January budget proposal and to begin crafting the Budget Act of 2024. Negotiations between the Legislature and the Administration will help craft the Governor’s May Revision of his budget proposal. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget bill. The Governor then faces a July 1 deadline to sign and enact the final budget.

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 new action center: 

For more information, contact Jared Call at 


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