2021-22 State Budget Includes Nutrition Investments but Long-Term Commitments Still Needed

Published on Jul 16, 2021 in Adults, CalFresh, Child Nutrition, Immigrants, Older Adults, School-Aged Children, State Legislation

On July 16, Governor Newsom signed the remaining trailer bills concerning food and nutrition policies to implement the Budget Act of 2021-22. The final budget makes significant one-time and ongoing investments to bolster the state’s nutrition safety net now and in future years. We thank the Governor and Legislature for enacting bold policies and making historic investments that will reduce hunger and poverty in California. 

We extend particular gratitude to Budget Chairs Assemblymember Ting and Senator Skinner, Speaker Rendon, Pro Tem Atkins, Budget Subcommittee Chairs Senator Eggman and Assemblymember Arambula, and our legislative champions. Thank you for your leadership, vision and commitment to improving the lives of those who need help putting food on the table.

Budget Highlights: Food and Nutrition

Below is an overview of major funding proposals relevant to food and nutrition.

Food4All: Modernizing the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

The final budget includes funding to begin implementation of the Food4All proposal. The funding and accompanying trailer bill language will move the state toward the modernized California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) proposed in SB 464 (Hurtado). We applaud the Governor and Legislature for prioritizing a permanent solution to the immigrant exclusion in CalFresh. We also thank Senator Hurtado, our cosponsors the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All Coalition for their tremendous support throughout this year’s campaign.

California is now poised to lead the way by advancing bold policy solutions like Food4All that reject racism and xenophobia by creating an equitable nutrition safety net. We look forward to continuing to advocate with the Legislature and Newsom administration next year to ensure funding for Food4All is appropriated on a permanent basis.

Food with Care: Child Care Nutrition

The budget bill includes long overdue investments in early care and education, including $15 million in on-going funding to supplement the cost of serving meals to low-income children. This action reinstates the state meal reimbursement which was stripped from the state budget in 2012, something advocates have long pushed for. The budget bill also creates 200,000 new child care spaces by 2024-25, provides child care providers a long overdue pay raise, and waives family fees for one year among other investments. These investments are an important step towards building a more equitable early care and education system that meets all families diverse needs.

Learn more about the impact of this budget win and the years of advocacy that led to this long-sought victory here.

CalFresh Simplification

The budget allocated funding for the policies proposed in SB 107 (Wiener). State leaders committed to making CalFresh easier for seniors and people with disabilities by creating a simpler paper application and improving phone access. We’re pleased to have achieved this goal after a three-years campaign.

We applaud Senator Wiener for his leadership on CalFresh simplification. We also thank our cosponsors — AARP-CA, California Association of Food Banks, and San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and our broad coalition of supporters for their tireless advocacy that propelled us to this point

The budget also makes a major improvement to the CalFresh rules on collection of overpayments. Counties will now have to limit the period in which they may establish a claim to recover an overissuance of CalFresh benefits due to inadvertent household error or administrative error to the 24 months preceding the month the county welfare department determined the overissuance occurred. 

K-12 School Nutrition

This year’s budget includes a historic investment in school nutrition. Thanks to the leadership and vision of Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), California is the first state in the nation to ensure free school meals for all California K-12 students. The budget is a statement of our values as a state, and this year’s plan makes a powerful statement the California will fight childhood hunger and invest in the well being of our students.

Specifically, the budget “launches the Universal School Meals Program, with an increase in state meal reimbursements by $54 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year and $650 million ongoing Proposition 98 funding beginning in 2022-23, to cover the costs of offering breakfast and lunch for all students.”

All children deserve to be well nourished and thrive. School meals are an essential resource that help students learn, grow, and achieve at their fullest potential. By connecting children with the nutritious food they need, we can help close systemic opportunity gaps that harm students with low income and students of color, particularly Black and Latinx children, across California.

We thank Senator Skinner for her leadership and Governor Newsom for adopting the Legislature’s School Meals for All proposal in the final budget package.

Nutrition for Older Adults 

The budget allocates $75 million for the Senior Nutrition program, which includes meals on wheels and congregate nutrition services.

Emergency Food

Food banks and pantries have been at the forefront of the state’s response to the extremely high levels of need during the pandemic. We applaud state leaders for allocating funding to provide ongoing support to emergency food providers.

The budget includes $110 million in one-time funding for food banks to continue to meet the elevated need. It also provides $182 million to enhance food bank capacity. Finally, it extends the healthy food donation tax credit for five years.

Broader Safety Net and Income Support 

Below is an overview of additional budget actions relevant to the health and well-being of low-income Californians.

Golden State Stimulus Plan

The budget provides a second round of Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payments. It includes $8.1 billion for Californians with income of up to $75,000. Some undocumented households will be eligible for larger payments, mitigating the harm cause by the exclusion of many Californians from COVID-19 relief measures due to immigration status. 

Health4All Seniors

In a major win for health equity, the budget expands comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage for income eligible-adults age 50 and over, regardless of immigration status. Nourish California joins the California Immigrant Policy Center and Health4All Coalition in 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 universal Health4All, as well as pairing healthcare coverage with nutrition supports by enacting Food4All.


After years of advocacy to restore funding cut in the previous recession, the budget increases the State Supplementary Payment (SSP) grant by $36 per month, restoring half the cuts from 2009. The state intends to restore the remaining 50 percent in the following year.

College Students Basic Needs

Recognizing many college students have difficulty meeting basic needs like food and housing, the budget extends funding to support those who need assistance while completing their studies. It allocates $30 million ongoing for CSU college students Basic Needs Centers and $2 billion for affordable student housing.

Homelessness and Housing

To address homelessness, the budget allocates $1 billion annually in local funding over the next two years. It also invests $2.75 billion in Project Homekey

What’s Next?

Much more remains to be done to overcome the historic and systemic injustices that exacerbate hunger and poverty due to geographic location, race, ethnicity, and a host of other social identities and demographics. As we celebrate long-sought victories and prepare for future campaigns, Nourish California renews our commitment to working with state leaders and our partners to disrupt poverty, end hunger, and extend equitable opportunity to all.


Contact Jared Call at jared@nourishca.org



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