Los Angeles – Today Governor Gavin Newsom announced his revised state budget plan, which included a proposal to remove exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for Californians over age 55, regardless of immigration status. While this is an important step toward ensuring the health and wellbeing of older Californians, it misses a vital opportunity to ensure Californians of all ages who have been historically excluded are able to access critical food assistance.
Amid skyrocketing food prices and soaring cost of living, a recent report from the Food4All campaign in partnership with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research revealed that nearly half (45%) of undocumented Californians are currently experiencing food insecurity. Children face even higher rates of food insecurity; 64% of undocumented children – nearly two out of every three – don’t have access to sufficient food.
Food assistance programs such as CalFresh and CFAP have been proven to reduce hunger, improve health, and mitigate poverty in the long term. Between 2013 and 2017, CalFresh kept 828,000 people out of poverty in California, including 418,000 children, per year. By eliminating the exclusion of income-eligible undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and certain visa holders from CFAP, we can ensure a more equitable state food safety net and build upon California’s growing movement towards immigrant inclusion.
Betzabel Estudillo, Senior Advocate at Nourish California:
“There are hundreds of thousands of Californians struggling to put food on the table who are unjustly excluded from nutrition assistance programs. We must stop discriminating people who are in need of critical food assistance simply because of their immigration status. When every Californian, no matter their age or immigration status, has access to the food they need, our communities and economies can thrive.”
Benyamin Chao, Policy Analyst at the California Immigrant Policy Center:
“These initial investments in Food4All move us closer to eradicating food insecurity. However, as food prices continue to rise, we urge our elected leaders to act quickly to address inequities in food access faced by immigrants who call California home. We cannot afford to continue excluding California residents from essential food assistance programs on the basis of arbitrary factors such as age or immigration status. Let’s create an equitable food system where everyone has a plate at the table.”
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)
“Hunger knows no border, no race, no nationality, and with the inclusion of Food For All in this year’s budget, California moves closer to stamping out hunger. Access to food is a human right, and as drought intensifies, the cost of food will rise—further increasing food insecurity across California. This funding in the budget will help us address this crisis and ensure that those who need help, regardless of their immigration status, will have access to assistance. This allocation brings California one step closer to a state where there is food for all.”
Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles):
“All, and I mean all, Californians deserve access to food, regardless of age, immigration status and more. As California recovers from the pandemic, let’s ensure that our most vulnerable residents are not left behind and have the tools to succeed. This includes equitable access to food.”
Sonia Guiñansaca, Director of Outreach at Gender Justice LA:
“Food4All sets a bold and humane precedent for how our state can show up for all our communities during this crucial time of income inequality, food insecurity, and unemployment. We have seen first hand the toll that the pandemic has had on our undocumented and Trans community members. This is a moment where California can demonstrate leadership in how we care for the well being of all our residents regardless of immigration status and age.”
Vanessa Teran, Policy Director of the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP):
“When we exclude immigrant families from accessing food benefits, we place a burden on future generations. Food is the foundation for nourishment of our bodies and minds that helps us rise each morning to build a better future for ourselves and others. By not prioritizing undocumented community members, including those who were deemed essential during the pandemic, who work in the fields that make California the “salad bowl of the world”, we’re saying that they don’t matter and we leave them unable to afford the very food they pick.”
The Food4All coalition is a diverse, robust coalition of more than 50 anti-hunger, anti-poverty, immigrant rights and grassroot organizations that are working together to bring an equitable nutrition 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 and San Diego.
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.