Groups Press to Include Undocumented in CA Food Assistance
Monday, May 2, 2022
New research on hunger shows 45% of undocumented immigrants in California are affected by food insecurity, and 60% of undocumented children live in food-insecure households.
The latest figures are from the University of California, Los Angeles's California Health Interview Survey.
Groups that work to prevent hunger want to open food-assistance programs to include all income-eligible Californians, regardless of their immigration status.
Donna Yerat-Rodriguez, community liaison for the group Poder Latinx, recalls growing up poor and hungry - as her undocumented mother was unable to find stable work.
"By including undocumented individuals in food-assistance programs, it will make a difference," said Yerat-Rodriguez. "It would have changed our circumstances, and many other families as well."
The Food4All campaign from Nourish California, and the California Immigrant Policy Center support a bill to do just that. Senate Bill 464 has passed the State Senate and is now in State Assembly.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed budget would expand CalFresh to undocumented people age 55 and older. Advocates want lawmakers to drop that age restriction in the final budget, which must pass by June 15th.
Opponents cite the cost considerations.
Susan Babey is senior research scientist with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which administers the survey.
"Children who experience food insecurity are more likely to be in overall poor health," said Babey. "They have an increased risk for depression and anxiety, and food insecurity is also associated with lower academic achievement."
And state Sen. Melissa Hurtado - D-Sanger - said she thinks the state has a moral obligation to use its budget surplus to fight hunger.
"If we really want to have that American dream, if we really want people to thrive, food is a fundamental component of that," said Hurtado. "And if we're not providing that, then we must do better."
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