Advocating for State Programs That Work
In 2016, we supported three complementary efforts aimed at strengthening the work and widening the reach of California food banks. We are happy to report that two of these efforts were successfully passed this summer! We also supported an effort to increase benefit amounts for people living on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) – a program that provides financial support to people who are elderly, living with a disability, and are living on a very limited income.
PASSED: Farmers’ Tax Credit
Currently, farmers in California can get a tax credit if they donate their surplus fruits and vegetables to California Food Banks. This helps farmers with the cost of harvesting, transporting and storing the surplus that they may otherwise leave in the fields. Additionally, it ensures that low-income Californians have access to fresh fruits and vegetables through their local food bank network. This year we successfully extended the tax credit for another 5 years, and simplified and improved the process for farmers to claim the tax credit.
PASSED: State Funding for Emergency Food
In 2011, California created CalFood (formerly SEFAP), which was intended to provide funds to food banks for purchasing, storing and transporting California grown foods. But in 2016, the program remained unfunded. This year, through the state budget process, $2 million was allocated to the CalFood fund so that food banks can continue to serve the 5 million Californians who face the threat of hunger every day.
SUSPENSE FILE: Anti-hunger License Plate
Like the whale’s tail license plate which funds the California Coastal Commission, this bill would have created an ‘Imagine No Hunger’ license plate. Funds from sales would have been directed to the CalFood program, providing much needed financial support to food banks in California.
AB 2131 (Maienschein) – ‘Imagine No Hunger’ License Plates >> Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Establishes the ‘Imagine No Hunger’ license plate program within the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Revenues from these license plates will be directed to CalFood.
PASSED: Small Increase in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
SSI is a program that provides money to people who are living on a low-income, and who are either elderly or living with a disability that prevents them from working. The maximum that an individual can receive in California is a little under $900 per month – an amount that is inadequate in most areas of California, where the average cost of rent for a one bedroom apartment is often over $2,000 per month. In this year’s budget, the CA4SSI (Californians For SSI) coalition was able to reinstate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on a portion of the grant, which will raise the average benefit amounts by about $4 per person per month. It is a small victory towards the goal of lifting everyone on SSI above the federal poverty level.