A van ride paved the way from Health4All to Food4All
In early January, Governor Gavin Newson released his budget proposal which proposes fully realizing the vision of extending health care coverage to all, regardless of immigration status. Groups like the California Immigrant Policy Center, Health Access, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the Children’s Partnership, and others celebrated this action that was years in the making. Thanks to the courageous advocacy of community members and state and local advocates, California will be the first in the nation that will truly provide Health4All.
Another proposal in the Governor’s Budget: A step towards Food4All by extending food assistance to Californians 55 and older, regardless of immigration status. This budget allocation is inspired by the Health4All movement that was kicked off by a bond formed on a van ride many years ago.
In the early days of Health4All, Betzabel Estudillo and Muneera Gardezi worked to engage immigrant rights and health coverage advocates in support of the campaign. Betzabel, then working with the California Immigrant Policy Center, and Muneera Gardezi, then with Health Access, acted as co-partners for the campaign. They collected stories. They organized legislative visits. They led community town halls and held statewide coalition meetings. And one van ride to the Capitol strengthened a partnership that continues to this day.
The van ride named the UndocuCAREvan traveled 500 miles across the state while making several stops speaking to people on the urgency for providing healthcare to all Californians. Its final destination was Sacramento for the legislative hearing of SB 1005, the first Health4All bill. It was this van ride that fueled the campaign and created lasting partnerships that added to the success of Health4All.
Fast forward a few years and this dynamic duo is still going strong - now at Nourish California. They are applying lessons learned from Health4All to the Food4All campaign. While Food4All has been under development for several years at Nourish California, their leadership has greatly accelerated the campaign.
Last year, the legislature put resources in the budget to put the technology and infrastructure in place to begin the movement toward Food4All. Along with this action came an interest in an age-based rollout modeled after Health4All. While an aged-based approach took place, Health4All campaign advocates never lost sight of the goal of Health4All and continued with their ask for health care for all Californians. Health4All shows that it is possible to make commitments to leave no one behind from critical safety net programs It shows that a broad vision using a process of targeted universalism can be achieved.
Another important lesson from Health4All is that we need to keep fighting even when small, but significant, wins are achieved. We need to follow the initial action on Food4All with fierce advocacy - creating a space for community members at the forefront of this movement, scheduling visits with key legislators, making calls and emails, and engaging in media action. Join Betzabel, Muneera, our partners at the California Immigrant Policy Center, the Food4All Coalition, our minigrant partners, and so many others committed to taking action in support of Food4All at https://act.nourishca.org/campaign/food4all
Maybe, if the Pandemic allows, you can one day join us on a ride to Sacramento to demand Food4All. Onward!