Big victories in Sacramento in 2018

June 22, 2018

2018 has been a big year for State budget advocacy. From a huge victory for seniors and people with disabilities, to greater support for food banks – we are grateful for our local legislators who have been allies every step of the way!

SSI recipients and CalFresh!

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a program that provides modest monthly grants to seniors and people with disabilities living on a low income. The maximum grant for an individual is about $910 per month. Due to a harmful state policy enacted in 1974, people on SSI have been barred from applying for CalFresh benefits.  In fact, California was the only state in the country where being on SSI made you ineligible for CalFresh.

But this year – thanks to fierce advocacy from Californians for SSI, a coalition of organizations and SSI recipients from across California – the Legislature and Governor Brown took action to end this policy. Starting in the summer of 2019, SSI recipients will be able to apply for CalFresh!

“This is a historic victory for the 46,000 people living on SSI in San Francisco and Marin counties, and is the single biggest advancement in the fight against hunger in many decades,” says Becky Gershon, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

Meanwhile, living on SSI is still quite a struggle, especially in high-rent counties like San Francisco and Marin. Check out our latest video from an SSI listening session, hosted by St. Anthony’s Foundation:

Increased $$ for food banks!

Operating food banks requires infrastructure: trucks, refrigeration units, pallet jacks, forklifts, and all sorts of other equipment that helps to keep fresh groceries moving. Unfortunately, equipment can get old, and break down, but ask any food bank operations manager and they’ll say they’d rather spend money on food to nourish more people than upgrades to infrastructure. We started a postcard writing campaign, urging Governor Brown to set aside funding for Food Bank infrastructure, and it worked.  The Governor approved $5.5 million in state funding this year to help food banks with the cost of upgrades!

We also sent postcards, signed by many of our supporters and volunteers, urging the Governor to include more funding for the CalFood program, which gives money to food banks to be able to purchase California grown foods.  Governor Brown came through again, allocating $8 million to that program.  Both funding measures will be shared among the 40+ food banks in California.

Thank you to all of you who signed these postcards during volunteer shifts in our warehouse, or those who signed our email petition. We believe that this collective effort played a role in the Governor’s decision-making.

Stay Connected!

Throughout the rest of the summer, the Food Bank’s Policy and Advocacy team will be working hard to promoting more State legislation that we have identified as important steps towards ending hunger. You can see the full list here.  We also urge you to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts, so you can help us spread our message at critical moments. Finally, stay engaged and get instant updates by following us on Twitter at @SFMFB_Advocacy.

Advocacy Wins 2017

November 1, 2017

We are happy to report that there is a lot to celebrate from California’s 2017 legislative session.

At the beginning of the year, our Policy and Advocacy Team set our sights on 11 bills and two budget issues that we knew could improve food access for our neighbors in need. Throughout the year we wrote letters to our legislators in Sacramento, encouraged our supporters to call their own legislators, and even testified at hearings in the Capitol. And thanks to our partners at the California Association of Food Banks, the California Food Policy Advocates, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty – among many organizations – we saw several important victories in our collective goal to end hunger.  Here are some of the highlights:

Starting in 2018, we will see more State funding for food banks across the state:

  • $8 million for the CalFood fund in 2017-18, which will provide State funding to food banks to purchase more California-grown fruits and vegetables – a big victory considering the fund only received $2 million last year! Thank you to those of you who signed a postcard for Governor Brown or Assemblymember Ting.
  • Senate Bill 61, authored by Senator Hertzberg, will renew and extend the Emergency Food for Families Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund. This will allow taxpayers to keep contributing to the work of food banks in California through their tax returns.

Children and students in California will have better access to nutrition at school:

  • Senate Bill 138, authored by Senator McGuire, will require school districts to identify children who are already on Medi-Cal so that they can automatically be enrolled in free school meals. The legislation also allows very high poverty schools across California to serve universal free breakfast and lunch to all of their students – not just those who are enrolled in free or reduced-price meals.
  • Senate Bill 250, authored by Senator Hertzberg, will ensure that schools cannot deny lunch nor punish students if their parent or guardian hasn’t paid their lunch bill on time.

CalFresh (food stamps) will become easier to access for families and individuals in need:

  • Several bills will make it easier for eligible people to receive and stay on CalFresh benefits starting next year. This includes SB 278, authored by Senator Wiener, which will protect CalFresh participants from penalties related to over-issuances when they were caused by county errors, and SB 282 also authored by Senator Wiener, which will provide clarity to counties on whether they can encourage people to use their CalFresh benefits at restaurants.
  • Assembly Bill 607, authored by Assemblymember Gloria, will streamline and modernize the Disaster-CalFresh program, making it easier and quicker for people to receive benefits in the case of a natural disaster.

You, as supporters of the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, empower our Policy & Advocacy team to advance legislation and policies that improve food assistance at the local, state and national level.   For that we say thank you.

Click here to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts, so that you can help us to advocate at critical moments in the legislative session in 2018!

Grassroots advocacy achieves CalFood win

July 10, 2017

Thanks to everyone who signed the postcards and letters created by the Food Bank to urge Governor Jerry Brown and Assembly member Phil Ting to fund the CalFood program.  CalFood is a key part of the state budget that allows food banks like ours to efficiently purchase locally produced foods — such as eggs and cheese — which helps families stay nourished.  With your support, our Advocacy Team sent a strong message to Sacramento.  On June 27, Governor Brown signed a new state budget into law, which includes a historic investment in CalFood.

CalFood – formerly the ‘State Emergency Food Assistance Program’ – was created in 2011. The program remained unfunded until last year, when it received a one-time investment of $2 million, which was shared among the many food banks in California. This year, advocates from around the state, led by the California Association of Food Banks, came together to urge our Governor to make a bigger, and more permanent investment.  Thanks to our collective efforts – and your participation – the 2017-2018 budget includes $8 million for CalFood.  In addition, future state budgets include a permanent annual funding stream for CalFood of $6 million annually.

This historic win was a tremendous group effort. Thank you to everyone who advocated for CalFood with us – your voice matters!

Stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities by subscribing to our eNewsletter and Advocacy Alerts.  We’re gearing up to protect federal funding for CalFresh (formerly food stamps) which is expected to face cuts in upcoming Congressional budget proposals.