June 27, 2022
Food4All Coalition Celebrates Historic Win, Urges Continued Push to Remove Exclusions for All Ages
Los Angeles – Last night, state leaders announced an agreement on the 2022-23 California State Budget, which includes funding to remove exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), California’s state-funded CalFresh, for Californians 55 and older, regardless of immigration status. This will make California the first state in the nation to provide state-funded food assistance to undocumented adults.
This investment will provide vital support for many Californians, but the need is much greater. As the Food4All Coalition celebrates this historic win, we urge our state leaders and the Governor to continue to advance equitable policies which ensure that every Californian, regardless of age or immigration status, has access to the essential resources that they and their loved ones need. As California recovers from the ongoing pandemic that has led to an unprecedented rise in food prices and food supply chain shortages, immigrant households with low incomes continue to experience food insecurity.
A recent research brief from the Food4All campaign – in partnership with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research – revealed that nearly half (45%) of undocumented Californians are currently experiencing food insecurity. Those younger than 55 experience the highest rates of food insecurity; 64% of undocumented children – nearly two out of every three – and almost half (46%) of adults aged 27-49 are affected by food insecurity. Everyone should have access to the food they need – not just some members of an immigrant household.
Betzabel Estudillo, Senior Advocate at Nourish California:
“California is once again making history by removing xenophobic exclusions to our state’s safety net. We thank Governor Newsom for allocating funding that will expand food assistance to undocumented adults over the age of 55 providing a much needed benefit. This move towards equitable access to our food and nutrition state safety net will help reduce hunger and mitigate poverty. While this is an important investment, many immigrants will continue to be left out. Our advocacy remains until we get Food4All. No exceptions. No exclusions.”
Benyamin Chao, Health & Public Benefits Policy Analyst at California Immigrant Policy Center:
“Thanks to this historic investment, California is one step closer to the Food4All Coalition’s vision to remove unjust exclusions from our state’s social safety net programs. Amid rising food costs and alarming rates of food insecurity, it is heartbreaking that hundreds of thousands of Californians below the age of 55 will continue to be left out of our most powerful anti-hunger programs. We will continue to work alongside our neighbors and state leaders to ensure that every Californian, regardless of their age or where they were born, has access to the food they need.”
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger):
“Hunger knows no border, no race, no nationality, and with the inclusion of Food4All in this year’s budget, California moves closer to stamping out hunger. Access to food is a human right, and as drought intensifies, the cost of food will rise—further increasing food insecurity across California. This funding in the budget will help us address this crisis and ensure that those who need help, regardless of their immigration status, will have access to assistance. This allocation brings California one step closer to a state where there is food for all.”
Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles):
“California has made an historic investment in the 2022-23 State Budget to expand CalFresh to undocumented immigrants 55 and older, making us the first state in the country to do so. Older undocumented immigrants are some of our most vulnerable community members and providing them with CalFresh benefits can be life changing in mitigating hunger and poverty. This is just the first important step in expanding CalFresh to all populations, regardless of age or immigration status. We will continue to fight until everyone has access to healthy food.”
Graciela, Community Member, Los Angeles:
“Thanks to the Governor and Legislature for working with the Food4All Coalition to make sure that undocumented older adults like myself will be able to receive food assistance, regardless of immigration status. I’ve struggled with accessing food for many years and this news gives me hope. Having access to CalFresh/CFAP means that I would have the ability to purchase the food I need to keep me healthy and shop at grocery stores whenever I need to.”
Amanda Schultz Brochu, Chief Program Officer, San Diego Hunger Coalition:
“We are proud that California is once again leading the way in reducing nutrition insecurity by removing antiquated and inequitable barriers to food assistance. Thank you to our state leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem Atkins, for this initial investment. We stand ready to build upon this critical first step to ensure anyone, regardless of immigration status, can access food assistance and will continue to advocate to that end.”
Ana Alfaro, Assistant Coordinator for Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC):
“California leads the country as the largest producer of agricultural products, it is contradictory that many of these farmers and their families do not have access to food. Let’s support farmworkers and other communities in need, including Food4All in the California budget.”
Yadira Sanchez, Executive Director, Poder Latinx:
“As a Californian, I’ve witnessed firsthand the food insecurity that runs rampant throughout the immigrant community across the state. It is gratifying to see California take the first step in funding assistance to immigrants aged 55 or older, regardless of their immigration status. The next step is fully funding Food4All and expanding access to our state’s nutrition safety net to immigrants of all ages, regardless of immigration status. CalFresh allows households to meet necessary nutritional needs and put more food on the table for families. A fully funded Food4All is the best tool to help fight hunger in California and to give the immigrant community a fighting chance.”
Ezer Pamintuan, Policy Advocate, Alameda County Community Food Bank:
“Our community must be inclusive of everyone. Food is a basic human right, yet millions of Californians are unjustly excluded from crucial nutrition programs solely due to their immigration status. These nutrition programs are intended to serve as a ‘safety net’ that protects people from falling into poverty, but California’s safety net is full of holes. The Food4All campaign is crucial for expanding immigrant inclusion in nutrition programs, which will promote equitable health outcomes, advance the economic prosperity of the whole state, and build a community where everyone belongs.”
Veronica Arciga B., Promotoras Network Regional Manager, Los Angeles County/Central Coast, Visión y Compromiso:
“We want to thank Governor Newsom for prioritizing the basic needs of immigrants age 55 and older, regardless of their immigration status. Food is a right and not a privilege, and with this new step, California is moving towards a healthy and dignified life for everyone. We still have more work to do to close the gap in food assistance. Our Promotoras Network is ready to keep advocating until we can make Food4All happen.Adelante!”
The Food4All coalition is a diverse, robust coalition of more than 50 anti-hunger, anti-poverty, immigrant rights and grassroot organizations that are working together to bring an equitable nutrition safety net that does not discriminate based on immigration status.
Founded in 1992 and operating for over a quarter century as California Food Policy Advocates, Nourish California is a nonpartisan, statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We engage in policy advocacy and research at the local, regional, and state levels in California and at the federal level. When our small team isn’t out meeting with communities, partners and policymakers, we can be found in our offices in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) is a statewide immigrant rights organization that advocates for policies that protect and advance the rights of immigrants and their families throughout California. CIPC combines legislative and policy advocacy, strategic communications, statewide organizing, and regional coalition capacity building to pursue its mission of advocating for policies that uphold the humanity of immigrants and refugees while advancing racial, social, and economic justice.