Food4All Campaign Ramps Up as Gov, Lawmakers Finalize Budget
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
The Food4All campaign is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand access to food assistance to all undocumented Californians when he submits his final budget proposal in the next few weeks.
In January and in his latest revision, Newsom has proposed opening up CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program to all people over age 55 who qualify. The state Senate's budget blueprint would eliminate the age restriction.
Betzabel Estudillo, senior advocate for Nourish California, estimates the change would allow up to 840,000 people to apply for benefits, costing the state an estimated $548 million a year.
"We're asking the governor to make the full investment," Estudillo explained. "So that people are not going hungry and that all immigrants have access to our nutrition safety net."
Opponents argued the money is better spent on other priorities. The state currently has a $97 billion budget surplus. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass the next budget.
Ilyas Maloles, who came to the U.S. as a child from Brunei, said his mother worked several jobs to support four boys on her own, and food assistance would have made a big difference for his family.
"I recall as a kid going to school, my lunch: It would just be a tiny juice box and a box of crackers," Maloles recounted. "And even then, I would often look at other kids, or even just a 'Lunchable,' with jealousy."
Hayley Burgess, communications manager for the California Immigrant Policy Center, said the governor's offer is a step in the right direction, but thinks now is the time to go bigger.
"We believe that doesn't go nearly far enough," Burgess asserted. "Especially given rising inflation and data that shows that nearly 50% of undocumented Californians are currently facing food insecurity, and two out of every three undocumented children."
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