Food4All Coalition Commends Gov. Newsom on Upholding Commitment to Expanding Food Access to California’s Older Immigrants, Urges Bolder Action to Achieve an Equitable Food Safety Net
Los Angeles – Immigrant rights and anti-hunger advocates commend Governor Newsom for keeping the promise to expand access to food assistance for Californians aged 55 and over, regardless of immigration status, in his proposed 2024-25 state budget plan announced today. Yet, Californians aged 54 and under continue to be unjustly excluded from CalFresh in the budget. We must build on the progress we have made toward equitable access to food for all.
CalFresh is our most powerful anti-hunger program and keeps millions of Californians out of poverty every year, but it leaves many immigrant families and workers behind. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) estimated that up to 780,000 low-income Californians were shut out of accessing critical food assistance due solely to their immigration status in 2023.* These exclusions contribute to painfully high rates of hunger, which have serious consequences for health, financial security, and children’s long-term success. Nearly half (45 percent) of undocumented Californians and two out of every three (64 percent) undocumented children are affected by food insecurity. No matter where they are born, everyone who calls California home should have access to the food they need and want.
The Governor and the Legislature must advance an equitable, community-centered budget that ensures no Californian experiences hunger. The Food4All coalition is committed to working with its legislative champions, the Legislature, and the Governor’s office to ensure that all Californians, regardless of age or immigration status, have timely access to the food they need. No exceptions, no exclusions, no delays.
In response to Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget plan today, the below members of the Food4All coalition issued the following statements:
Betzabel Estudillo, Director of Engagement at Nourish California:
“Immigrant communities in California are struggling to make ends meet. This economic hardship is heightened when they worry about their next meal or how to pay for rent or other basic necessities. Governor Newsom's proposed budget plan missed the mark to guarantee access to food as a basic human right. When we prioritize investing in an equitable safety net, all Californians benefit from having critical support systems in place. Nourish California urges Governor Newsom to fully fund a robust expansion of food assistance so everyone in our state can thrive.”
Benyamin Chao, Health & Public Benefits Policy Manager at California Immigrant Policy Center:
“When countless Californians, especially low-income immigrants, are finding it difficult to put enough food on the table, we need to prioritize our resources to meet that need. We call on Gov. Newsom to do everything he can to address this fundamental issue of food insecurity before it causes further damage to immigrant families and workers across the state. We can build long-term prosperity for all Californians by ending policies that exclude immigrants, based on their immigration status, from our food safety net.
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger):
“Ensuring food security isn’t just about sustenance; it’s about empowering every individual with the fundamental right to nourishment, health, and the opportunity for a thriving future. That is what the American dream is all about. Food insecurity destabilizes families, communities, and countries, while undercutting opportunities to thrive in a healthy environment that sets up every child for success in the future.”
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles):
“During a time when so many low-income households are struggling to afford to put food on the table, we as state leaders have an obligation to uplift and support all Californians. I hope we can achieve a full investment in Food4All. In the fourth largest economy in the world, no one should go hungry regardless of their immigration status. I remain committed to fighting for the Food4All proposal this year.”
Jesus Martinez, Ph.D., Executive Director of Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collective (CVIIC):
“Despite its overall prosperity, California is a state with great socio-economic inequality. In recent years we have witnessed high inflation rates that have increased food insecurity for low income Californians, including those residing in Central Valley communities where unemployment and poverty rates have been higher than the national averages. Investment by the State of California in the Food4All program is needed to help address the needs of our most vulnerable community members and enable adults and children to thrive in the Golden State.”
Stacia Levenfeld, CEO, California Association of Food Banks:
"At a time when food insecurity remains as high as the pandemic’s early months, investments in our safety net must remain a priority. Food banks, while crucial, cannot end hunger alone. Expanding access to the California Food Assistance Program is imperative, ensuring that ALL Californians, regardless of immigration status, can live a life without hunger.”
* These numbers reflect estimates produced by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in February 2023. Updated estimates of the expanded CFAP caseload from the LAO are expected in February 2024.
The Food4All coalition is a diverse, robust coalition of more than 100 anti-hunger, anti-poverty, immigrant rights and grassroot 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.