The team at California Food Policy Advocates is grateful to be working with national, state, and local partners to advance timely, effective policies that support the health and well being of Californians struggling to meet their basic needs. During the immediate COVID-19 crisis and in its aftermath, we will

  • Raise priorities with the CA Department of Education, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Public Health - WIC, the Department of Aging, and other state agencies;
  • Communicate with state legislators about California solutions to hunger, poverty, and food insecurity;
  • Proactively engage California’s congressional delegation about much-needed federal policy change;
  • Reach out to communities to better understand existing challenges and desired solutions; and
  • Widely share information & opportunities to take action.

To learn more about our overarching efforts, please see our federalstate legislativestate administrative, and policy research agendas.

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Primary Contact

Tia Shimada
Director of Programs
510.433.1122 x 109

What We’re Hearing

The COVID-19 pandemic is making it even more difficult for many Californians to safely access the food they need to live healthy lives. We are hearing about hardships across the state, such as

  • An urgent need for economic relief, including through Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT), more CalFresh benefits, and direct payments for households with low income;
  • Limited operating hours and pending closures of meal distribution sites, including school-based sites, as well as limited availability of meals at some sites;
  • The exclusion of many immigrant Californians from existing, newly created, and recently expanded sources of support.

We appreciate all who have reached out to share the challenges you’re facing and the changes that would better support your communities as California grapples with COVID-19. Please continue to share this critical information with us.

We are with you to amplify important issues and advocate together. You can reach our team by contacting

We recognize that COVID-19 requires a comprehensive, short- and long-term response. The policy priorities below reflect pressing issues but are not meant to represent the totality of such a response.

Equitable & Inclusive Solutions

COVID-19 affects us all. Policy responses to this crisis should be equitable and inclusive.

What do we mean by equitable?

  • Provide the most support to Californians experiencing the greatest need, including individuals living in chronically under-resourced communities harmed by systemic racism.

What do we mean by inclusive?

  • Don’t leave anyone behind, including our immigrant friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors.
  • Reject xenophobia and discrimination: fight COVID-19 with facts and protect our Asian communities.

What types of solutions are needed?

  • Enact COVID-19 relief policies, such as direct payments and health care for individuals and families, that are inclusive of immigrant households.
  • Extend Pandemic EBT to include young children who are eligible for meals under the Child and Adult Care Food Program and have been negatively impacted by site closures and reduced class sizes.
  • Ensure that newly issued forms of support can reach all Californians experiencing need, including those experiencing homelessness and living without consistent access to a mailing address.

Maximize Access to Food

From school closures to layoffs, COVID-19 is driving changes that dramatically decrease the resources Californians have available for food. New policies should mitigate the scope and scale of harm by creating new food resources, increasing existing sources, and minimizing barriers to both.

What types of solutions are needed?

  • Expand financial relief for low- and moderate-income households.
  • Increase the minimum and maximum amount of CalFresh/SNAP benefits available to all participating households.
  • Suspend all federal rulemaking, including changes to CalFresh eligibility and benefit calculations, that would decrease access to nutrition resources or diminish benefit levels for low-income Californians.
  • Extend WIC waivers that have enabled local agencies to remotely respond to the COVID-19 crisis, onboard new families by phone, and expand allowable WIC food items.
  • Quickly implement Pandemic EBT without requiring eligible families to proactively apply and by using a phased-in approach that allows benefits to reach children in the shortest amount of time.
  • Sustain non-congregate meal sites and Pandemic EBT through next school year and implement flexibilities that give ready access to all children and adults impacted by the closures of schools, child care, or adult care.
  • Align food access with public health orders and protect the safety of program participants by allowing and expanding online and curbside food purchases through WIC, as is now being planned for CalFresh.
  • Proactively communicate with individuals and families about available resources, including targeted, cross-program outreach to those who are newly eligible for WIC, SNAP/CalFresh, Pandemic-EBT, and non-congregate meals.

Prepare for Long-Term Effects

Californians will feel the effects of the COVID-19 crisis long after the immediate emergency has passed. And this crisis highlights the long-standing need to fight hunger and poverty across our state. Protecting the health and wellbeing of Californians in the wake of COVID-19 must be a priority.

What types of solutions are needed?

  • Provide state fiscal relief. Without more funding from Congress, California will be forced to cut critical health and social services at the worst possible time. Congress must temporarily increase the Medicaid matching payment to 14%, and provide direct, flexible grants to states.
  • Target State investments to give more students access to universally free breakfast and lunch.
  • Establish options to give our youngest children access to universally free meals in preschools and child care settings.
  • Provide nutrition assistance to all immigrant Californians who are struggling to make ends meet.
  • Build on what works: effective solutions harnessed during the COVID-19 crisis should continue as long-term efforts to mitigate hunger and poverty across California. For instance, permanently remove unnecessary CalFresh reporting requirements and streamline the application process to be fully completed online or over the phone.

In solidarity, we hope you are safe and well during these turbulent times.


Publications & Resources

CFPA and Partners Urge Support of HEROES Act – H.R. 1753

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a revised HEROES Act – House Resolution 1753. Our organizations support the HEROES Act and call on the U.S. Senate to pass it and the President to sign it so that the much needed economic relief it offers will reach Americans this fall. Read California anti-hunger partners’ joint statement here. Questions? Contact: Melissa Cannon at 209.200.8446 or visit our COVID-19 or Federal [...]

Congress Passes Short Term Funding Bill – Joint Statement from Advocates

Today, the President was presented Continuing Resolution (H.R. 8337) after it was passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and it is pending his signature. H.R. 8337 will deliver much needed nutrition assistance to millions of California students and their families. We applaud House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership, and for securing bipartisan support to extend and expand Pandemic [...]

New Survey Data Show Hunger Is a Racial Justice Issue

Summer has come to an end, but both COVID-19 and hunger continue to threaten the lives of Californians, especially Black and Latinx people.

Public Charge Rule In Effect: Help Inform with New Immigrant Health Resource

It’s official, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will apply the 2019 public charge rule to all future and pending green card applications submitted on or after Feb. 24, 2020. This reinstatement follows a September 11 decision in the ongoing litigation against the rule, wherein the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a nationwide injunction imposed in July. Immigrants and advocates have experienced multiple victories and losses in the multi-year campaign against a [...]

Take Action! Join Us for a National Call-in Day On Wednesday, September 16th

We need your help with one last big push to secure comprehensive COVID relief. Federal negotiations have stalled, and without congressional action millions of Californians will lose out on the resources they need to weather this crisis.

Senate’s Inadequate “Skinny” Bill Fails On Arrival

Yesterday, Senators voted down leader McConnell’s “skinny” bill. Good riddance! The scaled-back stimulus bill was a far cry from what California needs to weather the COVID crisis.

Thanks to Your Advocacy, Critical School Meal Waivers Extended to the End of 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement today to extend free meals for kids through Dec. 31st is welcome news, but a far cry from what's needed to help vulnerable children and their families as we navigate this pandemic.

Back to School & Into the Unknown

Children across California are heading back to school, but not back to their classrooms as usual. From distance learning to alarming rates of economic hardship, students and their families face a daunting school year. The challenges—and the unknowns—are many.

Trump Administration Fails to Extend Key School Meal Waivers

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they will not allow schools to continue operating under summer meal program rules this upcoming school year.

Federal Appeals Court Allows Public Charge Implementation in Most States, Including California

Two weeks ago, we shared the good news that a federal court had issued two nationwide injunctions blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ rules until the COVID-19 national emergency was over. Due to ongoing litigation, the DHS nationwide injunction is no longer effective nationwide.

¡Conviértete en portavoz para las personas afectadas por el COVID-19!

La crisis del COVID-19 está aumentando la necesidad de asistencia alimentaria y otros recursos en todo California. Los reporteros y los legisladores continúan preguntando a CFPA sobre los desafíos que enfrentan los californianos para adquirir los alimentos que necesitan. Nuestro personal trabaja para difundir los problemas existentes y plantear soluciones, pero nuestras voces no son las más importantes. Los miembros de los medios de [...]

Become a COVID-19 Spokesperson!

The COVID-19 crisis is increasing the need for food assistance and other resources across California. Reporters and legislative staff continue to ask CFPA about the challenges Californians experience in accessing the food they need. Our staff works to share existing problems and outline solutions, but our voices are not the most important. Members of the media and government leaders need to hear directly from [...]

COVID-19 Policy Priorities

The COVID-19 emergency is rapidly evolving. Related state and federal policy changes are mirroring that pace of change.

2020 Federal COVID-19 Waivers We Are Tracking

Federal Lead Melissa CannonSenior AdvocateOakland Resources COVID-19 Updates link Federal Updates link Federal COVID-19 Waivers We Are Tracking You Might Also Find This Interesting… Was this resource helpful? Please consider supporting Nourish California’s work. Your 100% tax-deductible donation is an investment in our research and supports our mission to give California’s critically under-resourced communities […]

COVID-19 Response: Nutrition Program Flexibilities Tracker

As the public health emergency worsens, federal and state policymakers have taken a number of actions to strengthen the nutrition safety net and improve food access.