January 13, 2022
Los Angeles, Calif. — On a press call this morning, CA leaders, community members, and advocates responded to Governor Newsom’s proposal of groundbreaking funding to remove exclusions to CalFresh for immigrant Californians ages 55+ who have been excluded from accessing critical food assistance because of their immigration status. The call also marked the official kick off of the 2022 #Food4All campaign, which moves to ensure access to food for all Californians, regardless of their immigration status.
Income-eligible undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and some visa holders are currently excluded from vital food assistance programs like CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Food4All legislation will strengthen California’s nutrition safety net and build upon the state’s growing movement towards immigrant inclusion. CalFresh and CFAP are pivotal for Californians as they have proven to reduce hunger, improve health, and lift people out of poverty. Between 2013 and 2017, CalFresh kept 828,000 people out of poverty in California, including 418,000 children, per year.
“En diciembre de 2020, toda mi familia tuvo COVID y fue un momento muy difícil. Mi esposo estuvo sin trabajo por un mes porque tenía COVID y no le pagaron el tiempo completo cuando estaba enfermo. No podíamos pagar las facturas y no teníamos suficiente comida. Fue muy doloroso decirles a mis hijas que no teníamos comida o ponerlas a dormir sin algo de comer y fue más triste cuando una de mis hijas me pidió un vaso de leche y yo no tenía,” dice Herling Isela Garcia, Central Valley resident and member of Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC). “Comida Para Todos beneficiaría a familias como la mía que tienen diferentes estados de inmigración y que están luchando debido a la pandemia y la economía. Le agradezco al Gobernador por incluir Comida Para Todos en su presupuesto. Pero necesitamos que todos los inmigrantes tengan acceso a CalFresh y que Comida Para Todos sea una realidad.”
“Last December in 2020, my whole family had COVID and it was a very difficult time. My husband was out of work for a month because he was not fully paid for the time that he was sick. We couldn’t pay our bills and we didn’t have enough food. It was very painful to tell my daughters that we had no food or to put them to sleep without something to eat or a glass of milk,” said Herling Isela Garcia, Central Valley resident and member of Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC). “If SB 464 – Food4All – passes, it would benefit families like mine who have different immigration status and who are struggling due to the pandemic and the economy. I ask that you support this bill and make Food4All a reality.”
“Food prices are at an all-time high and food security continues to worsen for all,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). “Those hit hardest have been excluded from accessing food, this is especially true for immigrant Californians. This year, with the governor’s proposed budget, we have historical funding that will allow California to remove exclusions to CalFresh for immigrant Californians, ages 55 and older. This is a major step towards making food access in California equitable, and ending the exclusion of income-eligible undocumented immigrants. I will continue to fight to ensure that California becomes a state where there is truly food for all.”
“Today, I speak for the beautiful Central Valley, the Breadbasket of the country, the place that ranks first in agricultural production nationally and is recognized worldwide. A place where even during the pandemic, thousands of people continued to work daily to ensure that all of us could continue to enjoy fresh food on our tables. It is a place where food abounds, but where far too many neighborhoods exist in food deserts,” said Clarissa Vivian Petrucci, Special Project Coordinator at the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC). “At CVIIC, we are dedicated to ensuring full participation of immigrants in building strong, vibrant, inclusive communities and to achieve these goals we believe it is necessary to advocate for those who are afraid to raise their voices. We believe that access to food is paramount regardless of immigration status.”
“In the fifth largest economy, no one should go hungry,” said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “Many Californians (including low-income immigrants) however cannot afford food. That’s why we need food for all in California, regardless of immigration status. I’m proud to lead the fight along with the Food4All coalition and Senator Hurtado to secure permanent funding to provide food from CFAP to ALL Californians ineligible for CalFresh solely due to their immigration status.”
“With another record budget surplus this year, we ask our leaders to prioritize reaching households who have been working as essential workers throughout the pandemic, but who have been left out of prior COVID relief programs due to immigration status,” said Derek Polka, Policy and Research Manager at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank continues to see an elevated need amongst the people we serve, particularly among immigrant households who have been left out of federal relief programs throughout the pandemic. As they now face the brunt of the newest surge, we need to provide relief in every way we can, and SB 464 and the California Food Assistance Program expansion can do just that. We need to continue these critical investments and expand CalFresh to everyone who is income-eligible, regardless of immigration status.”
“Across California, more than one in three adult immigrants experience food insecurity. CalFresh is one of the most powerful, and effective anti-hunger programs providing benefits to more than 2 million households in California. However, even when mixed immigration status families choose to access CalFresh, they only receive enough CalFresh dollars to supplement groceries for eligible members of their family. This brings discrimination home – providing support for some, and explicitly excluding the needs of others,” said Muneera Gardezi, Policy Advocate at Nourish California.
“Too many Californians are excluded from federal stimulus payments, unemployment insurance, and nutrition assistance programs that help families stay afloat in difficult times. Last year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that between 1.2 and 1.6 million California residents have incomes that meet the CalFresh eligibility requirements but are rendered ineligible for CalFresh and CFAP solely due to their immigration status,” said Sarah Dar, Director of Health & Public Benefits Policy at the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC). “In order to build a stronger, more resilient state, one that values the dignity and health of all its residents, California must do more to ensure that every single person and family – without exception – has access to nutritious food.”