Food4All Coalition Responds to California’s Budget

Published on Jul 1, 2024 in CalFresh, Food4All, Immigrants, Older Adults


June 28, 2024


Edward Sifuentes,, (760) 936-2632

Courtney Shojinaga,, (213) 204-3614

Food4All Coalition Responds to California’s Budget Deal Delaying Food Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants Ages 55 and Over

Los Angeles – Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the final 2024-25 state budget agreement, which delays the state’s previous commitment to provide access to food benefits for immigrant Californians ages 55 and older by two years, from October 2025 to 2027. The Food4All coalition is pleased that despite the state’s budget shortfall, the governor and Legislature maintained funding to continue the work necessary to ensure system readiness when the California Food Assistance Program expansion takes place. However, knowing that many of California’s immigrant communities are struggling to put food on the table now, the Food4All coalition is concerned by the governor and Legislature’s decision to delay crucial help to Californians currently in need. 

Sixty-four percent of undocumented Californians of all ages are living in or near poverty. CalFresh is California’s most successful anti-poverty program, yet immigration status remains a barrier to access for up to 770,000 Californians of all ages. California must remove unjust exclusions and create a food safety net that supports all Californians, regardless of where they were born.

The final budget affirms the state’s commitment to ultimately expanding access to food assistance to all regardless of immigration status. Still, as a result of this two-year delay, up to 130,000 older Californians will continue to be denied access to critical food programs, solely due to their immigration status. The coalition will continue to work with the Governor’s office and members of the Legislature to remove exclusions to food assistance based on people’s age and immigration status until all Californians have access to the food they need. No exceptions, no exclusions, no delays.

In response to Gov. Newsom’s state budget, members of the Food4All coalition issued the following statements:

Benyamin Chao, Health & Public Benefits Policy Manager at California Immigrant Policy Center:

“It is concerning that our elected leaders have delayed critical food benefits from reaching immigrant Californians who are experiencing immediate need. The delay means that excluded immigrants will continue to face the strain of food insecurity and poverty without relief. Moving forward, we urge the governor and legislature to reprioritize the well-being of vulnerable immigrant communities and speed up our progress towards a future where no Californian experiences food insecurity and hunger.”

Jackie Mendelson, Policy Advocate at Nourish California:

“We recognize the tough decisions that had to be made amidst our state’s budget deficit, and we commend the state’s promise to one day expand food access for undocumented immigrants – however, as a coalition, we are saddened by this decision as it will perpetuate the harm caused by food insecurity for hundreds of thousands of Californians for two more years. We remain persistent in our fight for Food4All. Immigration status must not be a barrier to food access – everyone, no matter where they were born, deserves equitable access to our state’s food safety net.”

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger):

“We are disappointed that we have to wait two more years. Hunger doesn’t wait. Food for all should be a priority. Your immigration status should not matter when you are hungry. By expanding food assistance programs, we can alleviate hunger, improve health, and uplift families. Excluding immigrant communities undermines our well-being and hinders our state’s ability to thrive. We must get this right.”

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles):

“In the fifth largest economy in the world, no one should go hungry regardless of their immigration status. While I am disappointed at the delay of Food4All, I am proud that our budget remains committed to combating food insecurity in the state. We will continue to fight for the full expansion of food assistance to create a California for ALL.”

Veronica Arciga Barriga, Visión y Compromiso:

We are deeply disappointed by the delay in expanding the California Food Assistance Program to undocumented older adults. This decision prolongs the hardships faced by our most vulnerable community members and undermines their right to live with dignity and health. Food4All is essential because no one should go hungry in a state as prosperous as California.”

Irene Gomez, Program Manager of PUENTES, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project:

Original quote in Spanish: “Gobernador Newson, Por medio de estas palabras me dirijo a usted para comunicar el sentir de nuestra comunidad Indígena indocumentada trabajadora del campo. Estamos muy impresionados y decepcionados por la noticia que nos comunicaron. Trabajando con la comunidad Indígena inmigrante por varios años, sabemos que siempre ha habido una desventaja para las familias indocumentadas de poder recibir beneficios como es el CFAP y CalFresh. Sabemos lo importante que es este beneficio para nuestras familias durante el año pero, en ciertas fechas del año en el que el trabajo escasea, es más difícil para la comunidad poder poner un plato de comida a la mesa. Principalmente las familias indocumentadas que no tienen familia mixta, y no cuentan con otros apoyos para poder apoyarse en tiempos difíciles. Necesitamos que se reconsidere en su presupuesto como lo había prometido de poder ayudar a nuestros adultos mayores, para que puedan recibir los beneficios de comida para todos. CFAP y CalFresh, es un derecho que todos deben de recibir sin importar los estatus migratorios, porque todos los trabajadores Californianos contribuyen en la economía de este país.”

English Translation: “Governor Newson, through these words I address and communicate to you the feelings of our undocumented Indigenous community working in the fields. We are very shocked and disappointed by the news we were told. Having worked with the Indigenous immigrant community for several years, we know that there has always been a disadvantage for undocumented families in not being able to receive benefits such as CFAP and CalFresh. We know how important these benefits are to our families throughout the year, but at certain times of the year when work is scarce, it is more difficult for the community to be able to put a plate of food on the table. Mainly undocumented families who do not have a mixed family, and do not have other support in difficult times. We need you to reconsider your budget, as you had promised, to be able to help our seniors, so that they can receive the benefits of Food for All. CFAP and CalFresh is a right that everyone should receive regardless of immigration status, because all California workers contribute to the economy of this country.”


The Food4All coalition is a diverse, robust coalition of more than 100 anti-hunger, anti-poverty, immigrant rights, and grassroots organizations that are working together to bring an equitable food safety net that does not discriminate based on immigration status.

Founded in 1992 and operating for over a quarter century as California Food Policy Advocates, Nourish California is a nonpartisan, statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We engage in policy advocacy and research at the local, regional, and state levels in California and at the federal level. When our small team isn’t out meeting with communities, partners, and policymakers, we can be found in our offices in Oakland, Los Angeles (virtual), and San Diego (virtual).

The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) is a statewide immigrant rights organization that advocates for policies that protect and advance the rights of immigrants and their families throughout California. CIPC combines legislative and policy advocacy, strategic communications, statewide organizing, and regional coalition capacity building to pursue its mission of advocating for policies that uphold the humanity of immigrants and refugees while advancing racial, social, and economic justice.


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