Today, Governor Newsom released his revised 2021-2022 state budget proposal, which includes a number of critical investments to under-resourced Californians, but continues to exclude many immigrants from accessing vital food assistance. Nourish California and the California Immigrant Policy Center are disappointed by the Governor’s decision to leave Food4All out of his budget proposal. It represents a missed opportunity to build a more equitable nutrition safety net — one that adequately supports ALL Californians when they fall on hard times and need help putting food on the table.
While the majority of Californians are eligible to receive CalFresh food assistance if the need arises, current laws explicitly exclude undocumented immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and others from federal SNAP/CalFresh and the state-funded California Food Assistance Program (CFAP). These are not isolated communities. Roughly one in six of California kids lives with at least one undocumented parent, and nearly one in ten California workers is undocumented. They are our neighbors, our friends, our classmates, the frontline workers who keep us safe, the teachers who educate our kids, and the healthcare professionals who put their lives on the line to heal others.
Yet, despite making significant and ongoing contributions to California’s overall prosperity, immigrants with temporary or undocumented status face discrimination and structural barriers to employment, education, and public services. As a result, children with working immigrant parents are twice as likely to live in poverty than children with non-immigrant working parents. The pandemic has worsened hardship for immigrants across California, many of whom are locked out of economic relief, including our most effective anti-hunger program—CalFresh/CFAP.
“These are people who quite literally work to put food on other California households’ tables but are denied that opportunity for their own families. #Food4All is a call for parity, not charity,” says Sarah Dar, Director of Health & Public Benefits Policy with the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Given the state’s $75 billion surplus, Governor Newsom now has an opportunity to live up to his administration’s mantra of a ‘California for All’ by ending discriminatory exclusions to CFAP and ensuring nutrition access for everyone who calls California home.”
“CalFresh is a critical lifeline for accessing nutrition assistance, but many immigrants are unfairly excluded from CalFresh and our state-funded California Food Assistance Program (CFAP). We are disappointed the Governor failed to prioritize a permanent solution to the immigrant exclusion in CalFresh in his May budget proposal. We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature and administration during the next critical weeks to ensure Food4All is included in the final budget package,” says Jared Call, Senior Advocate with Nourish California.
The Food 4All Coalition urges California leaders to seize this opportunity to permanently address the unjust immigrant exclusion in the state’s nutrition safety net. Together, we can take a bold step forward toward a future where all Californians — regardless of immigration status — have the food they need.