While we remain vigilant in our federal advocacy to protect the anti-hunger safety net, some great progress was made to increase access to affordable, nutritious food through 2018 California legislation! The 2018 state legislative session recently concluded with some key victories, thanks to the tireless advocacy of our partners and coalitions working together to advance our shared goals. All of your letters, calls, emails and actions truly made a difference!
2018 State Legislative Priorities
CFPA’s state policy priorities had some historic successes this year, while others were still left unfulfilled. Out of the twenty-eight hunger and nutrition-focused bills on CFPA’s 2018 support agenda, twelve bills were signed into law by the Governor. link
We were thrilled to celebrate the success of AB 1871 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta this year! AB 1871 rights a long-standing inequity by ensuring that low-income students in public charter schools have access to free school meals, just like their peers in district-run schools. Our coalition of co-sponsors- the California PTA, California Teachers Association, and Western Center on Law and Poverty- worked tirelessly with us to ensure that AB 1871 was signed by Governor Brown, especially given his veto of a similar bill in 2012. After advocating for charter school meals for close to a decade, CFPA and our partners are celebrating this signature in Governor Brown’s final year as Governor! link
The 2018-19 State Budget included significant progress as well. CFPA and SPUR led the initiative to create the CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot in the State Budget Omnibus Bill, AB 1811 (originally introduced as SB 900 by Senator Scott Wiener). This pilot will establish an EBT-integrated pilot program to provide CalFresh shoppers a dollar-for-dollar rebate match for the purchase of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Efforts are underway to begin planning the CalFresh pilot with state agencies. Communities should be able to apply to participate in the pilot later next year. link The CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot is another historic food security victory- the concept was first advanced as a CFPA priority over ten years ago. PDF
CFPA supported the advocacy of the CA4SSI Coalition to reverse California’s long-standing “SSI Cash-out” policy though the 2018-19 State Budget legislation. CFPA will stay deeply engaged in the state’s planning and implementation efforts to ensure that newly-eligible SSI recipients can receive CalFresh food assistance in summer 2019, and provide some relief to the poverty faced by hundreds of thousands of California seniors and Californians with disabilities. link
The State Budget also led to creation of a few focused working groups, comprised of advocates and state and county administrators. CFPA worked with our partners at the California Immigrant Policy Center to ensure that CDSS convenes advocates, along with state and county administrators to address immigrant food security in the Food for All working group. Additionally, advocates, administrators and social services technology contractors will be convening to ensure the successful implementation of a new, unified state system for social services administration (CalSAWS).
Unfortunately, CFPA’s budget advocacy to restore state funding for nutritious meals in subsidized child care and to provide state support to start or expand breakfast-after-the-bell programs in high-poverty schools were both left unfunded this year. CFPA will continue our advocacy to for equitable solutions to hunger for California children and families.
In this election year, we are preparing to work with a new Governor and administration, and expect to see some changes in the Legislature in 2019. While we celebrate this year’s successes, we remain acutely aware of the hard work ahead of us to address many pressing issues facing low-income Californians. This includes California’s housing crisis and its’ impact on hunger; rising income inequality and cost of living; the difficulty in accessing needed food assistance in California; and the federal threats to our immigrant neighbors and to the federal safety net at large.
We must continue to push the State to do better for the millions of Californians who struggle with food insecurity. We appreciate the hard work of all the diverse individuals, organizations and coalitions that supported CFPA’s legislative priorities, and we applaud the successes of our partners. We will continue working together to identify policy solutions that improve the health and wellbeing of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food. Stay tuned for more!