The $1.7 trillion Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2617) signed by President Biden on December 29, 2022, includes significant investments that support families’ nutritional needs and increase health equity. In order to pay for those investments, however, the bill also includes devastating tradeoffs for Californians such as ending SNAP emergency allotments and drastically reducing summer 2023 P-EBT benefits.
Some Remarkable Wins
- The Omnibus bill established a permanent Summer EBT program that can benefit close to 4 million California children. The new program will help fight the higher rates of food insecurity that families with children experience during the summer by providing a monthly stipend to purchase food when school is out.
- Benefits will start in the Summer of 2024 at $40 per child, per month (adjusted for inflation over time.)
- Families will have up to 4 months to use their benefits.
- Includes 50% funding for state administrative costs.
- States must automatically enroll children who are participating in free or reduced-price meals, attending NSLP schools, and those directly certified. States must also provide an application for other children.
- Children in Community Eligibility Provision schools who are not directly certified must fill out an application.
- States desiring to participate in the program shall notify the Secretary by January 1st of each year and submit a plan for approval by Feb 15th.
- The bill included funding to extend the WIC Bump until September 2023 (set to expire in Dec 2022.) These crucial benefits will enable families participating in WIC to access a greater variety and quantity of nutritious foods during critical periods of child development and will help counter the effects of rising food prices.
- More than 750,000 California participants will continue to receive benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables until September 2023.
- Children will receive $25 per month in benefits.
- Pregnant and postpartum participants will receive $44-49.
- The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act was included in the bill, protecting the rights of breastfeeding workers to express their milk while on the job, ensuring more babies have access to human milk, and parents have more choices plus the needed support.
- The Omnibus bill ENDED the temporary emergency SNAP benefits (known as CalFresh emergency allotments in CA). The CalFresh benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels without the added supplement by February 2022 issuance (March disbursement) instead of continuing until the Public Health Emergency declaration ends. Premature cuts to CalFresh Emergency Allotments will be devastating to the 5 million Californians who rely on CalFresh and will precipitate the hunger cliff as early as March 2023. Some households may have their food benefits reduced from $281 to $23 per month, costing California over $500 million each month in nutrition benefits.
- The bill reduced Pandemic EBT benefits for summer 2023, from $391 to only $120 per child. In addition, the State will not be allowed to issue summer P-EBT benefits to children who did not attend an NSLP school in the preceding school year. With those changes to the P-EBT program, California will lose more than $1 Billion in food benefits for children during the summer of 2023.
- The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was not expanded. The CTC is one of the most significant steps to reduce childhood poverty and hunger. Thanks to the increased CTC as part of the COVID-19 relief package, millions of California families were able to afford food and cover other expenses such as utility bills and housing. Unfortunately, the Child Tax Credit will go back to pre-pandemic levels negatively affecting over 7.5 million children in California who will have their credit reduced from $3,600 (children under 6) & $3,000 (children 6-17) down to $2,000 annually per child.
It is disappointing that Policymakers decided to make cuts to critical programs that have been very effective in helping families deal with the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue supporting Californians during this inflationary time when millions of families are struggling to put food on the table. We should continue to urge decision-makers to protect nutrition programs and continue to invest in the health and well-being of our community.
We invite you to join us at the 2023 CalFresh Forum on February 15th and 16th to learn more about the state of the program, identify advocacy opportunities, discuss the importance of protecting CalFresh benefits from further cuts, and much more!
Visit our Action Center to take action and send a message to your representatives.