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The Capitol Goes Orange for Hunger Awareness

Anti-hunger advocates from across the state, Food Bank staff, the offices of Assemblymembers Yamada, Fuentes, Weickowski and Mitchell, and others participated in “The Capitol Goes Orange for Hunger Awareness” day on Wednesday in Sacramento.

The participants wore orange – the official color of hunger awareness – to bring attention to hunger issues across the state and highlight anti-hunger bills currently before the Governor (AB 6, AB 69, AB 152, AB402, AB581, and SB 43). Visit our state advocacy page and learn more about the bills mentioned above and how you can take action.

hunger aciton group

Capitol Goes Orange

Let’s go orange for Hunger Action Month!  Join anti-hunger advocates from across the state, Food Bank staff, the offices of Assemblymembers Yamada, Fuentes, Beall, Skinner and others to participate in “The Capitol Goes Orange for Hunger Awareness”  day TODAY (Wednesday, September 21st) in Sacramento.  They are asking that staff members wear orange – the official color of hunger awareness – to bring attention to hunger issues across the state and highlight anti-hunger bills currently before the Governor (AB 6, AB 69, AB 152, AB402, AB581, and SB 43).  There will be a Capitol Community photo op at 12:15p.m. on the West Steps of the State Capitol.  We ask that you also please bring a canned food donation with you to the photo-shoot.

Learn more about the bills mentioned above on the California Association of Food Banks website.

capitol orange flyer

California One Step Closer to Eliminating Fingerprint Imaging

Guest post by David Lee, Director of Government Relations & Advocacy for Feeding America: After a lot of legislative activity over the last two weeks, August 31 the California Senate passed an amended version of AB 6, the bill that would remove the fingerprint imaging requirement for CalFresh (the state name for SNAP) applicants and also move the state from a quarterly reporting to semi-annual reporting.

Due to opposition from the County of Los Angeles, the bill was amended to eliminate fingerprint imaging for CalFresh only applicants, but keep the requirement for CalWorks (TANF) and for those who receive both CalFresh and CalWorks.  Since of the entire California nutrition caseload, 78% received CalFresh only and 22% received both CalFresh and CalWorks, this is still a major win in the battle to fully eliminate fingerprint imaging in CalFresh.  More importantly, the bill eliminates federal funding for the state to maintain the system.

After achieving concurrence in the Assembly, the bill will head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.  If signed, California will follow Texas in eliminating fingerprint imaging, leaving only Arizona and New York as the last two states in the union to use it.

To learn more about the Food Bank’s advocacy efforts visit www.foodbankccs.org/advocate.

Budget Control Act of 2011

Congress came to a verbal agreement on the debt ceiling Sunday evening. The House voted in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (bill text) yesterday evening, and the Senate passed it earlier today.  All house representatives in California voted in favor of the bill except for a handful of representatives who did not vote. Senators Boxer and Feinstein voted in favor as well.  The bill awaits final approval from the president.

Members of Congress and political pundits are still unclear about all the details of the agreement. However, the Congressional Budget Office reports that the deal trims at least $2.1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, and raises the debt limit in a two-step process. How the spending cuts will actually play out is uncertain. This is what we do know:

  1. The cap is on federal nutrition programs and it is about to get screwed even tighter. Government-wide budget caps are set for the next ten fiscal years; which means that federal nutrition programs like WIC, TEFAP and CSFP will face even stiffer competition for federal dollars against other federal programs like military and education spending. Entitlement programs such as SNAP, Medicaid and Social Security are exempt from these caps.
  2. A “Super-Committee” is tasked with finding an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts to the deficit, just in time for Thanksgiving. In less than four months hunger activists will need to influence this plan to ensure hungry children, seniors and families are not bearing the brunt of these cuts. The plan needs to be unveiled by November 23 and approved by December 23.
  3. A failed Super-Committee plan guarantees an unfair burden placed on middle and low-income families. If Congress fails to pass the super committee plan or enacts less than $1.2 million in cuts, across-the-board cuts will occur. There is one small victory: Social safety-net programs including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, Child Care and Development Block Grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are not subject to these cuts. It is unclear whether TEFAP – which provides food banks with a significant percentage of food – will be on the chopping block. However, all other programs helping middle and low-income families are fair game.

Thank you to our friends at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas for providing this update.

California Food Banks React to Signing of State Budget

Guest post by Sue Sigler, Executive Director of California Association of Food Banks: Last week Governor Brown signed a state budget package to close California’s $9.6 billion funding shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

While food banks across the state are relieved that a budget was passed without further cuts to the safety net, we are deeply disappointed that the budget does not include the modest temporary revenue extensions that Governor Brown had sought to help close the deficit. The revenue extensions were part of a balanced proposal to solve the state’s fiscal shortfall, which also included steep cuts. California’s low-income residents are now faced with $15 billion in cuts that hit safety programs especially hard and will continue to drive more people to food banks for assistance.

Instead of revenue extensions to bring down the deficit, the budget package anticipates $4 billion in additional revenue returns for the next fiscal year. However, if these extra revenues fail to materialize, automatic “trigger” cuts will take effect in January to make up the balance. The first tier of trigger cuts includes health and human services programs that provide vital support for our most vulnerable citizens.

The budget deal preserves several funding restorations in critical life-sustaining health and human services programs, including CalWORKS, childcare, and In Home Supportive Services. These restorations are the very least we should do to repair a frayed social safety net that has been weakened by over $15 billion in cumulative cuts made to health care and social services in state budgets since 2008, during a period of record unemployment and economic hardship.

The legislature’s inability to enact a budget solution with revenue extensions has once again highlighted the flaws in a budget process that allows a handful of legislators to override the priorities of a majority of Californians. Because a few legislators in Sacramento would not compromise on revenues, millions of Californians who struggle with hunger will bear the brunt of deep cuts made to balance the budget. California’s economic and family recovery will ultimately depend on the passing of real, sustainable revenue options that get our families back to work.

About the California Association of Food Banks
The mission of California Association of Food Banks is to provide a unified voice among food banks to maximize their ability to build a well nourished California.

Agriculture Appropriations Bill Hurts Food Assistance Programs

The 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill the House narrowly approved threatens our ability to help hungry people in our community by cutting food assistance for children, seniors and food banks.

The House passed these cuts as one in five Californians report being unable to afford enough food. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is now serving over 132,000 people every month, an increase of 46% (between 2006 and 2010). Serving Contra Costa and Solano counties in the San Francisco Bay Area with 175 partner agencies, the Food Bank will have distributed more than 14 million pounds of food over the last fiscal year by July 1 of this year. U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities provided through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are one of the most nutritious sources of shelf-stable food available for distribution and constitute about 16% of the Food Bank’s food resources.

Food banks across the country are experiencing similar trends. Existing cuts to social services at the state and county levels have already stretched resources beyond capacity. If enacted, these federal cuts will make meeting the increased need in our community impossible.

Hunger is a non-partisan issue. Hopefully, the Senate will not uphold these draconian cuts to our country’s nutrition safety-net. We urge you to contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein and insist that they fight to prevent food assistance funding from being decimated.

Take Action!
Tell your Member of Congress “I oppose the recently-passed House cuts to emergency food programs because the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of those struggling with hunger”. Not sure who your representative is? Find them by visiting www.house.gov.

Budget Cuts in Agriculture Appropriations Bill Unacceptable

I had the honor of listening in on a call this morning with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and George Miller (CA-7) and the press where they discussed the cuts included in the Agriculture and FDA Appropriations bill, which will be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives this week.

baby eatingThe Agriculture and FDA Appropriations bill has been slashed by 13.4%, or $2.6 billion below FY2011. Included are cuts to critical nutrition and anti-hunger programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which could be cut by more than $650 million, meaning that up to 350,000 women and children could go hungry and will not have access to the nutrition they need. The Commodity Supplement Food Program, which mainly assists low-income seniors, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which helps assist states with food banks, could also see their funding cut by up to 20%.

On the call Congressman Miller stated that: “Nutrition is essential to thrive and grow” and that “cuts to WIC will increase health costs.”

Congresswoman DeLauro pointed out that “WIC is not an admin expense. It is about nutrition education, breast feeding support, screening for harmful substance abuse and ensuring people are on a healthy lifestyle path that will only save money in the future.”

Call Today!
Call your representative by using a toll-free number, 877-698-8228 provided by Feeding America. After a brief message you’ll be asked to enter your zip code to connect directly to your House member’s office.  Once you are connected:
•    Tell them that you are a constituent and state the name of the town you are calling from.
•    Let them know you are calling about the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation
•    Deliver this message:
I am a supporter of my local food bank and I urge you to vote AGAINST the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation, which cuts funding for TEFAP commodities, CSFP, WIC and SNAP reserve funds. Cutting safety net programs is the wrong way to balance the budget.  Food banks across the country will not be able to meet the increased demand for food assistance if nutrition programs like TEFAP, CSFP, WIC and SNAP are cut.

For more information about how you can help take action against hunger, please contact Lisa Sherrill at (925) 676-7543 extension 206 or lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

Visit to the State Capitol

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano was represented in Sacramento last week for the California Association of Food Banks Annual Legislative Day! Our Executive Director Larry Sly and I visited all nine of our Assemblymembers’ and Senators’ offices that represent Contra Costa and Solano counties.

We joined over 30 representatives from 20 California food banks asking legislators to support programs to improve access to healthy food and simplify the CalFresh Program. You can check out our 2011 Public Policy Agenda for more info /give-help/advocate/state.html.

Day of Fasting

Yesterday was the national day of fasting — a fast in opposition to the proposed federal budget cuts to nutrition assistance and other safety net programs.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it all day without eating, but I did eat substantially less than I usually do. Even making it to lunch without eating wasn’t easy. But that’s the point. For the thousands of people we serve every month it is not a choice of “will I eat or not” rather “how am I going to eat or how am I going to feed my family”.

Please contact your members of Congress and tell them the federal budget must not be balanced on the backs of low-income Americans. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask for your representative and senators.

To learn more about the proposals, please visit our advocacy section of our website.

Join National Call-In Day to Protect the Nutrition Safety Net!

As hundreds of advocates converge on Washington, DC for the 2011 National Anti-hunger Policy Conference, including representatives form Contra Costa and Solano counties, you can help us amplify our voice by joining our national call-in day today.  For those of you who will not be in Washington, you can still make your voice heard by calling your Members of Congress!

Latest News from Washington

Last week, Congress passed a short-term, two-week continuing resolution (CR) funding the Federal government through March 18. The short-term CR cuts $4 billion dollars as compared to FY2010 spending levels, and more cuts are on the horizon as Congress continues to work toward a long-term CR to fund programs through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The House-passed version of the long-term CR, H.R. 1, would cut nearly $61 billion in domestic non-security spending as compared to FY2010. The Senate will take two votes this week: one on H.R. 1, and one on a Senate bill introduced late Friday, March 4 that would cut about $6.5 billion from the budget as compared to FY2010. Both votes are expected to fail and are intended to demonstrate the need for the House to work with the Senate to find some middle ground before the short-term CR expires in two weeks.

These next two weeks are a critical opportunity to influence the process, and we need to keep the pressure on. Help us keep pushing Congress to protect the low-income safety net by calling your senators today. Participate in our National Call-In Day and urge your senators to safeguard the safety net!

Sen. Roberts

Senator Roberts at Russell senate building, anti-hunger lobby day.

Call Today!

Help us track our impact by using our toll-free number, 877-698-8228. After a brief message you’ll be asked to enter your zip code to connect directly to your senator’s office.  After delivering your message to the first office, stay on the line to be connected to your second senator’s office.  Once you are connected to your first senator’s office:

  • Tell them that you are a constituent and state the name of the town you are calling from.
  • Let them know you are calling about the budget, H.R. 1
  • Deliver this simple message:I urge Sen. ____ to oppose cuts to safety net programs, especially nutrition assistance programs like TEFAP, which supports emergency feeding programs in our community. Instead, please work with House leaders to pass a budget that addresses deficit while safeguarding programs that protect low-income Americans.

Questions? Please contact Lisa Sherrill at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.