Here at the Food Bank, our mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. On its face, the solution might seem simple: provide nutritious food so people facing hunger can thrive, not just survive. But while providing food on the ground is an essential part of our services, we know it’s not enough to simply address the hunger we see today – we must also work to address its root causes and change the policies that allow hunger to continue in our communities and plan for long-term solutions.
That’s why, in partnership with our community and other supporters, our Policy and Advocacy team works to promote proposed laws and create new policies that benefit everyone (check out our policy platform). We advocate at all levels of government, from local to state to federal – and we’d like to share with you some key wins we’ve achieved in the California legislature.
“Changing policy is a marathon, not a race,” said Marchon Tatmon, associate director of policy and advocacy at our Food Bank. “Nonetheless, we’re proud of how we’ve worked together with other advocates to achieve some pretty audacious goals. Our strength is that we’re always in conversation with our community to inform our policy priorities.”
California Anti-Hunger Policy Wins in 2023
- CalFresh: According to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), about one in eight Californians relied on CalFresh (also known as food stamps) in 2022. The state adjusted this existing program to make it more effective, including:
- Allocating $15 million to fund a pilot program raising the minimum CalFresh benefit to $50/month (currently, minimum benefits are $23/month).
- Funded increased summer benefit amounts at $47 million, providing families with school-age kids more money to spend on food – a critical lifeline when free school meals disappear during summer vacation.
- Secured $40 million to speed up the implementation of California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) benefits, which are similar to CalFresh benefits for undocumented immigrants.
- Legislated reimbursement funds for skimmed CalFresh benefit dollars and increased benefit theft protection.
- Secured $9.9 million for a broader Fruit and Vegetable pilot program giving extra CalFresh money for purchasing produce.
- School Meals for All: Chances are, more kids are hungry than you think: according to the same report from PPIC, roughly half of the children in our state will participate in CalFresh by the age of six. Together with other activists, we successfully lobbied for more than $300 million to fully implement free school meals for all kids in California.
- Social Security: Many older adults and adults with disabilities rely on this safety net to pay most or all of their expenses, including buying food. We helped secure a grant increase of 8.6% to raise the incomes of these vulnerable groups.
- CalFood: Secured $60 million in funding for food banks across the state to buy California-grown produce, strengthening our local economy while also providing fresh fruits and vegetables to neighbors facing hunger.
These policy wins over the last year bring us another step closer to ending hunger – but our work isn’t done yet. In coalition with partners, participants and other activists, we’re determined to continue advocating for just, compassionate and equitable public policy that truly makes a difference for our communities.