As Older Adults Struggle to Afford Food, State Introduces Master Plan for Aging

Published on Jan 22, 2021 in CalFresh, Older Adults, State Administration

On January 6, Governor Newsom released his administration’s much anticipated Master Plan for Aging (MPA). The plan’s release is the culmination of over a year and a half of work among administrators, advocates and community members.

Background

In June 2019, recognizing that the state’s over 65 population is projected to grow to 8.6 million by 2030, the Governor issued an Executive Order calling for the creation of a Master Plan for Aging . The MPA demonstrates the priority of the health and well-being of older Californians and the need for policies to prepare the state for the coming demographic changes and continue California’s leadership in aging, disability, and equity.

Nourish California was proud to participate in the planning process and monthly stakeholder engagement sessions that shaped the final plan. We identified opportunities that California can seize now to help more Californians age with food and dignity. We encouraged our fellow anti-hunger advocates to share their recommendations with the Newsom administration for how to end the disparities that perpetuate poverty, hunger, and undermine the health of our aging population. We are pleased that the final plan largely reflects those key recommendations. 

What’s in the Master Plan for Aging?

The MPA outlines five bold goals and twenty-three strategies to build a California for All Ages by 2030. It also includes a Data Dashboard on Aging to measure the state’s progress and a Local Playbook to drive partnerships that will help meet the five goals. 

Within each goal, there are multiple Strategies and specific Initiatives — policy recommendations filled with actionable items to meet the goals of the MPA. Goal 5, Affording Aging targets the equity gap and aims to increase Elder Economic Sufficiency. We are pleased to see this pressing priority reflected in the Plan. Approximately 20 percent of all people 65 and over in California live in poverty; however the portion of Black, Indigenous, and Latino older adults living in poverty is double that. 

We focused our recommendations on eliminating hunger and poverty among older adults, addressed through four Initiatives under  Goal 5, Strategy C: Protection from Poverty and Hunger.  

  • Initiative 129: Increase SSI grants to meet the Elder Economic Index and Federal Poverty Level.
  • Initiative 130: Make and identify opportunities – at federal, state, and local level – to address older Californians’ needs for nutrition.
  • Initiative 131: Continue to streamline older and disabled adult enrollment and renewal, and online shopping in CalFresh.
  • Initiative 132:  Seek federal funds to expand the senior food box program (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) statewide. 

What’s Next? 

As the saying goes, “just because you make a good plan, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen.”  We are working to make the MPA’s goals a reality right now by sponsoring state legislation, SB 107 (Wiener) that would advance Initiative 131 by implementing two common sense, proven ways to streamline access to CalFresh:

  • Creating a simplified CalFresh application for older adults and people with disabilities; and,
  • Making it easier to complete the application and other required forms entirely by phone.

We need your help! SB 107 and its associated state budget request will need broad and vocal support to advance in the Legislature and reach the Governor’s desk. If you would like to support SB 107, sign up to receive timely updates at our Action Center and follow us at @Nourish_CA.

Questions?

Contact: Kameron Mims-Jones at or Jared Call at

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