I met the most amazing woman this morning at a Food Assistance Program/Food For Children distribution. She and her two kids escaped an abusive husband with the help of STAND! For Families Free of Violence. Friends helped her some, but they couldn’t support her and so she found herself in a small trailer with no plumbing and only $3 in her pocket. She never thought she would be in this place. She was supposed to be at home taking care of her two small children. For four months last year she lived on WIC and $40 in cash. WIC was a life saver. She was able to make just simple meals but she also had fresh fruits and veggies to feed her daughters.
She is now enrolled in CalWORKS which she sees as a way to help her get on her feet. The food she receives from the Food Bank helps her stock her pantry. “These programs are vital,” she says. She’s not looking for lifelong help, just enough to get on her feet and go back to school so she can get a job to support her girls. Right now as part of the CalWORKS program requirement, she is working 21 hours a week but is basically working to pay for a babysitter for her 5 and 7 year old daughters. She is grateful for the work and experience but is looking forward to figuring out what she wants to do and is considering early childhood education.
Without the CalWORKS “I would be homeless. I wouldn’t be able to feed my two girls,” she says. “They have clothes thankfully but they grow so fast. What about shoes? And they would outgrow their clothes within a year.” Thanks to the Medi-Cal program her daughters are caught up on their immunizations and their cavities are fixed. Now she can focus on her own medical needs after not having insurance for 3 years. She never knew about any of these programs or free medical clinics until she needed them. She never thought she would be in this position. “I am so grateful,” she says.
What can you do? Tell Governor Brown not to cuts programs like CalWORKS and Medi-Cal that help people like my new friend. Cutting these programs will hurt real families here in California. Tell him these budget cuts aren’t just numbers on a page, they are a crushing blow to California families who struggle to keep their children in school and put food on their tables.