This week, Governor Newsom and the Legislature reached a final agreement on the 2022-23 State Budget. The newly-signed $300 billion budget makes largely one-time investments, continues to build the state’s reserves, and includes a tax rebate program that will send direct payments to nearly 20 million Californians. While the spending plan makes significant investments to support Californians with low income, it fails to fully seize this historic opportunity make the transformative investments to address the longstanding inequities in our state’s nutrition safety net.
Food and Nutrition Investments
Below is an overview of major investments in the 2022-23 state budget relevant to food and nutrition.
Food4All: Expanding the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
The final 2022-23 budget includes funding for Food4All to remove exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)/CalFresh for Californians 55 and older, regardless of immigration status. This means that California will be the first state in the nation to provide food assistance benefits to undocumented adults.
While this is a major win for the Food4All campaign as well as older adult immigrants who will be able to receive critical food assistance through access to CalFresh benefits, it is not enough. There are many more California immigrants younger than 55 who will continue to face rising food insecurity and inequitable access to our nutrition safety net without a full investment in Food4All.
Take Action: Join us in celebrating this win by thanking Governor Newsom and the California legislature, and continuing to push for full funding for #Food4All by sharing the sample social messages and graphics found in our Social Media Toolkit.
Child Care Nutrition
Nourish California remains disappointed this year’s budget did not include any additional funding for child care nutrition, specifically the Food with Care proposal. including no provisions to increase funding for child care meals. This despite the fact that child care providers – mainly Black, Brown, and immigrant women – are facing significant food hardship with more than half reporting often or sometimes running out of food.
Nourish California will continue to champion policies and state investments to adeqhttps://act.nourishca.org/campaign/food-with-careuately fund child care and will lift up the need for dedicated child care nutrition funding in the state budget.
Take Action: Join the Food with Care campaign here
The final budget includes funding for the Department of Social Services to regularly publish available data regarding CalFresh eligibility and enrollment among college students.
This year’s budget also establishes the Tribal Nutrition Assistance Program, to be administered by the Department of Social Services. This new program would award grants, no later than July 1, 2023, to eligible tribes and tribal organizations to address food insecurity and inequities between CalFresh benefits and the federal Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
Finally, the budget creates a CalFresh E&T Workers’ Compensation Fund for the purpose of paying workers’ compensation claims resulting from CalFresh recipients’ participation in the CalFresh Employment & Training program.
The final budget includes no other major investments or improvements in CalFresh, despite California families continuing to face high rates of hunger and inequitable access to food. Nourish California and our anti-hunger partners strongly urge the Governor and Legislature to prioritize improving access and boosting benefits in the next budget year.
K-12 School Nutrition
The final budget continues the state’s historic investment in school nutrition programs. It includes $1.2 billion in annual funding for state school meal reimbursements, reflecting the intent to match the current reimbursement rates happening under federal pandemic waivers. We applaud this tremendous investment in the health, well being, and nourishment of California kids.
We are also pleased that the implementing bill language provide for in-year assessments and adjustments that guarantee neither schools nor students will be not short changed. This structure will ensure sustained funding to reach all students with the nutritious school meals they need. In years past, when the number of school meals served exceeded anticipated participation, schools received a lower per-meal reimbursement from the state than expected. Such unanticipated budget shortfalls create undue burdens on school meal programs.
The budget also includes $700 million for school kitchen facilities and infrastructure upgrades, $60 million for Farm to School grants program, $10 million for cafeteria worker training, and $2.4 million for program evaluation.
The budget provides $120 million one-time for CalFood (including $112 million in the 2022-23 budget year to be spent over 3 years, in addition to the $8 million established in the annual base budget).
Nutrition for Older Adults
The final budget does not include any significant new investments in nutrition for older adults.
We are thrilled that the final budget expand Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented immigrants ages 26 to 49, meaning beginning in 2024, all undocumented immigrants in California will be eligible for comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage. Nourish California applauds the Legislature and Administration for this step toward a more equitable health care system, and call on him to do the same for vital food assistance by fully funding Food4All in next year’s budget.
Broader Safety Net and Income Support Proposals
For an overview of additional investments in the 2022-23 budget relevant to the health and well-being of low-income Californians, please see this helpful analysis from our friends at the California Budget & Policy Center.
What’s Next in the Fight to End Hunger in California?
Hunger and hardship continue to impact Californians with low income, and in even greater numbers among Californians who identify as Black or Latinx. Nourish California and our partners and allies will continue to advance equitable, people-centered policy solutions that target resources to those facing the starkest inequities. ]You can stay up to date on policy development, research, and advocacy signing up to receive timely updates through our Action Center. We invite you to join us and make your voice heard to help ensure that all Californians have the food they need to thrive.