Lobby Day 2021 Food Justice Bills
These two bills pair together to expand cash assistance for food for all Californians, both in response to the pandemic and for the long-term. Food assistance dollars are a proven antipoverty measure.
For immigrant workers, the pandemic has significantly affected their health, security, and income, resulting in high unemployment rates in industries like hospitality and food service. At the same time, immigrants compose 36 percent of California’s essential workforce. This includes over 1.2 million undocumented Californians working frontline jobs — risking COVID-19 exposure for low wages. Yet they are not included in the basic safety net programs of California.
AB 221 (Santiago): Emergency Food4All
As of January 18, 2021, 22.5% of California households were experiencing food insecurity, with an even higher rate of 27.8% for households with children. Rates of food insecurity are even worse when examining data by race, with 24.4% of Black households and 33.1% of Latinx households reporting some levels of food insecurity. These numbers are even more staggering for households with children: 33.8% of Black families and 38.1% of Latinx families are facing hunger.
This bill increases emergency food dollars for food-insecure households and undocumented people living in California. Poverty disproportionately affects people of color because of systemic injustices and discrimination over generations. This bill does not rectify the larger economic factors resulting in racial injustice, but it does help meet immediate needs during the pandemic.
What the Bill Would Do:
AB 221 would provide emergency food assistance to millions of low-income Californians during COVID-19, regardless of their documentation status, in the form of a one-time-use, prepaid card preloaded with $600 for use at retailers that sell groceries. This bill would also require the State Department of Social Services (CDSS) to provide recommendations for a permanent food assistance program that meets the needs of all food insecure Californians.
For more information: Fact Sheet
SB 464 (Hurtado): Food4All
Despite their many contributions, immigrants are explicitly denied access to CalFresh (known federally as SNAP). California established CFAP in response to 1996 federal welfare reform that ended SNAP eligibility for many documented immigrants, but the program wasn’t made fully inclusive. Today, CFAP serves about 38,000 “qualified immigrants” who lost federal SNAP eligibility. Current laws exclude undocumented immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and certain visa holders from CFAP and CalFresh eligibility.
This bill makes food dollars available to undocumented people living in California who experience food insecurity but who are currently unable to access. This bill primarily supports people in the Latinx community for whom the immigration system is not working. This bill does not rectify the larger economic factors resulting in racial injustice, but it does help meet the needs of people who are currently left out of the safety net due to racial prejudice at a national level that trickles down through immigration policy.
What this Bill would Do:
SB 464 would modernize the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide vital food assistance to households who are currently ineligible due to their immigration status.