Last week, Governor Newsom introduced his May Revision to the 2021-22 State Budget proposal. The revised proposed budget uses higher than anticipated revenue to make one-time and ongoing investments to respond and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. While the Governor’s plan includes new ongoing investments in food and nutrition programs, it falls short of what is needed to address the longstanding inequities in our state’s nutrition safety net.
The Governor’s budget assumes a record budget surplus of over $75 billion over the current budget year and in 2021-22. About half of that surplus is constitutionally obligated to K-12 schools, community colleges, budget reserves, and long-term liabilities. The remaining $38 billion surplus combined with federal fiscal relief means California leaders have more than $100 billion in revenue available in this and future budget years.
Overall, the Governor’s May Revision makes significant one-time investments in nutrition and the broader safety net. It also proposes historic ongoing investments in school nutrition and health care for undocumented immigrants. Much more is needed, however, to address the historic rates of hunger experienced by Californians during the pandemic. Low- and moderate-income Californians continue to bear the brunt of the economic impacts of COVID-19, particularly Black and Latinx individuals and families. The state should seize this opportunity to make long-term transformative changes to build a fair, just, and equitable safety net. Nourish California looks forward to working with the Legislature and administration to ensure a final budget package reflects an equitable approach so that all Californians have the resources to meet their basic needs, including food.
Food and Nutrition
Below is an overview of major funding proposals relevant to food and nutrition.
Food4All: Modernizing the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
Nourish California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All Coalition are deeply disappointed that the May Revise did not include funding to expand eligibility in the California Food Assistance Program to all immigrants ineligible for CalFresh solely due to their immigration status. This 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. The Food4All Coalition will continue to work with our champions in the State Legislature 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.
K-12 School Nutrition
The Governor proposes a historic investment in school nutrition programs. The May Revision includes $150 million in ongoing funds to “encourage local educational agencies to participate in one of the federal universal meal provisions” that allow schools to serve meals free of charge to all students. We thank the Governor for this commitment and urge the Legislature and administration to consider targeted investments in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) as a fundamental component of a comprehensive, permanent approach to universally free school meals in California.
Learn more about the opportunity to maximize CEP here.
Child Care Nutrition
Nourish California is disappointed the Administration’s 2021-22 May Revise did not include any rate increase for child care providers, 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.
We will continue to weigh in with Senate and Assembly members regarding the importance of adequately funding child care and will lift up the need for dedicated child care nutrition funding in the state budget.
Nutrition for Older Adults
The May Revision includes $2 million ongoing for the Department of Aging to continue CalFresh Expansion outreach efforts to older adults. While we are pleased the Governor invests in connecting more older adults to CalFresh, we are disappointed that the proposal does not include funding for simplified application for older adults and people with disabilities. We will continue to work with our champions in the Legislature to ensure the final budget makes this modest investment that will greatly simplify the CalFresh application process for older Californians.
The May Revision includes $106 million General Fund available over three years, to strengthen older adults’ recovery and resilience from isolation and health impacts caused by the pandemic. This includes an ongoing investment of $17.5 million in senior nutrition.
The proposal also includes $3.3 million General Fund ongoing to provide the Department of Aging policy, project management, and information technology leadership necessary to implement the Master Plan for Aging.
As noted above, the May Revision does not include funding for simplified application for older adults and people with disabilities.
The budget includes no new investments in the state’s emergency food system. Given the unprecedented demand faced by food banks during the crisis, we are disappointed the Governor failed to continue to make much-needed investments to shore up the emergency food system. Nourish California strongly supports the California Association of Food Banks request to bolster the emergency food network through COVID-19 and beyond.
The Governor’s proposal provides $9.3 million in one-time funding to provide medically tailored meals until those meals become available through the broader Cal-AIM proposal.
CSU and Community Colleges
The budget proposes an increase of $30 million ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund for community colleges to to address basic needs such as hunger, homelessness, and financial insecurity.
Broader Safety Net and Income Support Proposals
Below is an overview of additional proposals in the Governor’s budget relevant to the health and well-being of low-income Californians.
Golden State Stimulus Plan
The May Revision includes $8 billion in Golden State Stimulus payments to Californians earning less than $75,000 annually. This includes SSI recipients and undocumented immigrants.
The Governor’s May Revision proposes a major step forward toward an equitable health care system. It would expand eligibility for comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage to approximately 80,000 undocumented adults age 60 and older.
Nourish California joins our partners at the California Immigrant Policy Center and Health4All coalition in CIPC applauding the Governor and champions in the state legislature for their commitment to health equity by ensuring our state’s income-eligible, undocumented seniors are no longer excluded from Medi-Cal. We look forward to continuing to work toward Health4All undocumented immigrants, as well as pairing healthcare coverage with nutrition supports by enacting Food4All.
The Governor proposes increases the state’s maximum SSP grants beginning as of January 1, 2022. The proposal would raise the maximum monthly grant for individuals by 6.4 percent. However, the governor’s proposal would still leave the maximum monthly SSP grant for individuals well below its peak level of $233 in 2009. Nourish California strongly supports the CA4SSI Coalition’s request to fully restore the State Supplemental Payment portion of the grants to pre-2009 levels.
Homelessness and Housing
The Governor’s budget proposes $12 billion in state and federal funds over two years to address homelessness.
The Legislature is currently holding hearings to discuss the Governor’s May Revision. Negotiations between the Administration and Legislature will now begin in earnest. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass the budget bill and the Governor’s must sign the final budget no more than 12 days following the bill’s passage.
Critical nutrition priorities will continue to need broad and vocal support to be included in the final budget package. You can stay up to date on our budget advocacy and receive timely calls to action by visiting our Action Center. Make your voice heard to help ensure that all Californians have the food they need to thrive.
Contact Jared Call at 323.401.4972