On May 12, Governor Newsom introduced his revised 2023-24 State Budget proposal, which maintained funding levels and support for most major safety net programs. While we appreciate that major cuts were avoided, the revised plan still falls short of the investments needed to address the level of hunger and inequity faced by Californians with low and moderate income. Especially in such times of economic downturn, it is vital that the state continue to invest in programs and services that foster equity and make California a state for ALL.
Given the unprecedented hunger cliff millions of Californians are facing, state leaders must prioritize bold, equity-centered investments in essential services and the long-term nutrition safety net. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Newsom administration during budget negotiations to secure much-needed investments that will help struggling families, older adults, people with disabilities, immigrants, and all Californians afford the foods they need.
Below is a summary of the Governor’s budget proposals with respect to food and nutrition.
Food and Nutrition
The Governor’s May Revision 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. However, it does propose a new, sooner implementation date for this historic expansion, now October 2025. Nourish California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All Coalition thank the administration and legislature for prioritizing the timely expansion of CFAP eligibility.
We look forward to continuing to work with our legislative champions, the legislature, and the Governor’s office to ensure access to CFAP benefits for Californians of ALL ages, regardless of immigration status. We also call on the Governor and Assembly to follow the lead of the Senate Budget Committee to include funding for full CFAP expansion in the final budget package.
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.
The Governor’s May Revision maintains funding for the CalFood program at $60 million one-time, enabling food banks to distribute California grown foods. We are grateful to the Governor for this investment, and call Legislature to provide this funding ongoing in order to address the ongoing elevated need across the state. For more information, see the California Association of Food Banks’ statement.
The May Revision provides additional support for the state’s Universal Free School Meals program. The proposal also reflects investments to help account for rising food and operational costs that may affect the viability of school nutrition programs.
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 negotiations continue over the next few weeks. We continue to urge the Governor and the Legislature to permanently guarantee that funding for meal reimbursements will remain 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.
Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program—The May Revision includes $47 million ($23.5 million General Fund) for outreach and automation costs to phase in a new federal Summer EBT program for children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals beginning summer 2024.
Take Action: Join the Campaign to Ensure Healthy Meals for Every Kid, Every Day
Federal Reimbursement of Food Benefit Theft (Skimming & Scamming)
The federal Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2023 mandated the federal reimbursement of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefit theft. The May Revision includes $42.9 million federal financial participation for associated administration and automation activities.
There are no other proposed investments to boost CalFresh benefits despite the dire CalFresh “benefits cliff” that participants have faced since the expiration of pandemic-era “Emergency Allotments in March.
Take Action: Join the Campaign to Boost CalFresh Benefits by extending and expanding successful supplemental benefit programs and by raising the minimum benefit to $50 per month.
Early Care Nutrition
The May Revision includes $183.3 million General Fund for Child Care and Development Programs and $840,000 for the Child and Adult Care Food Program to reflect a statutory COLA of 8.22 percent. We are pleased that the state reimbursement rate for CACFP will be adjusted to more accurately reflect the higher cost of food due to inflation. 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.
Safety Net and Income Support
Below is a summary of the Governor’s budget proposals with respect to the broader social safety net.
The Governor’s May Revision fails to invest in families with low income at a level to meet their most basic needs. The May Revision proposes only a minor increase of 3.6% to CalWORKs grants. The Governor’s also proposes to withdraw half of the Safety Net Reserve ($450 million), which is intended to maintain CalWORKs and Medi-Cal benefits during an economic downturn.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) / State Supplementary Payment (SSP)
The May Revision includes $3.6 billion General Fund in 2023-24 for the SSI/SSP program, including CAPI. The average monthly caseload in this program is estimated to be 1.1 million recipients in 2023-24. An 8.7-percent federal SSI cost-of-living adjustment and 10.3-percent SSP increase took effect on January 1, 2023, bringing the maximum SSI/SSP grant levels to $1,134 per month for individuals and $1,928 per month for couples. CAPI benefits are equivalent to SSI/SSP benefits. The May Revision continues to include $146 million General Fund in 2023-24 and $292 million ongoing for an additional SSP increase of approximately 8.6 percent, effective January 1, 2024.
These investments fall short of keeping up with California’s high cost of living and do not fully make up for prior grant reductions. We urge the Legislature to do more to help SSI/SSP beneficiaries make ends meet.
The May Revision does not increase child care provider rates for 2023-24. Provider rates have not kept pace with the rising minimum wage, meaning many providers are struggling to afford their basic needs.
We urge the Administration to follow the lead of the Legislature and provide significant additional funding to raise provider rates. We also urge the adoption of the Food with Care child care nutrition proposal, which would finally end the unfair state meal reimbursement gap for Family Child Care providers (See Child Care Nutrition, above).
We are very pleased that 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 applaud the Governor for keeping his commitment to expanding health care access to all immigrants, and call on him to do the same for nutrition access.
Additionally, the Budget maintains its funding commitment to continue transforming the health care delivery system through California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), including programs providing medically-tailored and medically-supportive meals to Californians with specific dietary needs.
Homelessness and Housing
The May Revision maintains previously promised funds from the 2022-23 Budget Act, including: $1 billion General Fund for the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Grant Program. Unfortunately, no new funding was allocated in the proposed budget. Rather, the administration is pushing for stronger accountability measures.
The Legislature has begun holding budget hearings to discuss the Governor’s May Revision. Negotiations between the Legislature and the Administration will now begin in earnest, as the Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget bill and 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: act.nourishca.org
For more information, contact Jared Call at.