CALIFORNIA HUNGER ACTION COALITION: 2017 CHAC Policy Agenda
The California Hunger Action Coalition believes access to adequate, nutritious and safe food is a fundamental human right. With potential federal threats to the safety net, we must take action to end our status as #1 in the nation in poverty: 1 in 5 Californians lives in poverty when including our high cost of living (US Census Bureau).
It’s time to prioritize ending poverty & hunger in the state budget
- Raise Supplemental Security Income (SSI) above the poverty level and restore the state COLA.
- Fight hunger by supporting the CalFood Program that enables California food banks to purchase only California-grown foods.
- Provide a state-funded emergency supplemental nutrition benefit for CalFresh households who must buy safe drinking water when their water system poses a serious health threat.
- Expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) to all self-employed Californians who meet income eligibility requirements, increase the income eligibility threshold, and invest in awareness outreach programs.
- Restore the COLA for CalWORKs recipients and extend the CalWORKs 48-month clock to 60 months to combat food insecurity among low-income families.
Support legislation that improves our anti-hunger programs
- Enable the CA Department of Social Services to more efficiently deliver state CalFresh benefits if federal assistance is unavailable or does not meet California’s needs (AB 164 Arambula).
- Increase access to school meals by implementing Medi-Cal Direct Certification statewide and maximize federal provisions to offer free lunches and breakfast to all students in high poverty schools (SB 138 McGuire)
- Prevent harmful treatment to school children when their families are unable to pay an unpaid debt to the school food services providers by establishing state standards for collecting unpaid fees. (SB 250 Hertzberg)
- Reinstate the COLA for the SSI/SSP benefit and require a maximum aid payment that would increase incrementally until January 1, 2019, when it would be set at 100% (AB 796 Kalra)
- Support CalFresh recipients in securing employment and earnings that are enough for them to exit poverty by establishing a CalFresh Employment & Training (E&T) Center for Excellence (AB 563 Arambula)
- Add the Disaster CalFresh Program into statute and establish requirements of Department of Social Services and County Human Services Agencies to respond to the need for emergency food assistance during disaster. (AB 607 Gloria)
Hunger Action Day
Every year in late-May advocates from across the state meeting a the Capitol for legislative visits, rallies, and networking all in the name of anti-hunger. Our 2016 Hunger Action Day brought over 400 advocates from every corner of our great state.
This year, 2017, marked the 20th Annual Hunger Action Day, we hope that everyone who attended enjoyed this fantastic event!
Here is video footage from this year’s Hunger Action Day! See you next year!
A Strong Advocacy Track Record
CHAC is proud to put forward an agenda that prioritizes the most impactful policies for ending hunger and poverty in California. From its earliest days, for example, CHAC helped establish and secure permanent funding for the California Food Assistance Program that provides benefits to immigrant families who are legally present but denied CalFresh benefits (SNAP) from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Together with other coalitions and partners, CHAC is able to lift up fundamental issues of hunger and routinely sees success even when facing difficult political odds or fiscal challenges.
Recent achievements include several CHAC priorities:
o Repeal of the Maximum Family Grant in CalWORKs (TANF) that denied cash aid to babies born into families already on the program.
o Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2021 for large employers and by 2023 for small employers.
o A one-time Cost of Living Adjustment for those on Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment program (SSI/SSP), the first reinvestment after a decade of cuts.
o $40M in matching state funds for counties to create SSI advocacy programs to house individuals during the long application & appeals process, improving their chance of success.
o $5M for state Nutrition Incentives that enables California to draw down federal matching funds and together double the value of CalFresh benefits used at farmer’s markets.
o $2M for grants to fund school breakfast programs.
o First ever General Fund support of $2M for the CalFood program that allows food banks to purchase California grown foods.
o Introduction of the state Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers.
o Expanded eligibility for comprehensive Medi-Cal health coverage to all youth regardless of citizenship status.
o Repeal of the lifetime ban on CalFresh, CalWORKs and child care for those with a felony drug conviction.
o Extended CalFresh to households with incomes up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level through Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility.
o Draws down some $275M in CalFresh benefit by investing $9M in the State ‘heat and eat’ program (Energy Assistance Subsidy Benefit) that triggers higher benefit levels.