Hunger-Fighting Groups Give Mixed Reviews to New CA Budget Proposal
Monday, May 22, 2023
Groups working to fight hunger in California are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed changes to the state budget regarding food assistance for undocumented people, but say they do not go far enough.
The governor's "May Revise" would allow undocumented immigrants over age 55 to participate in food assistance programs two years earlier than planned, starting in 2025 instead of 2027.
Tia Shimada, director of programs at Nourish California, said the state should not exclude people from CalFresh or the California Food Assistance Program because of their age or immigration status.
"Those inequities, they're written into our policies," pointed out. "They're a choice, and California can do better. Gov. Newsom and the California state Legislature should end the unjust exclusion of immigrants from food assistance."
Senate Bill 245 and Assembly Bill 311 would expand the food assistance programs to include from 580,000 to 670,000 low-income undocumented people under age 55. Opponents cited cost concerns.
Food insecurity is associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes and has been shown to impair cognitive development in children.
Ali Ahmed, a student at the University of California-San Diego, said it is tough for immigrant students who struggle to afford basic necessities.
"This is the case for many of my friends at school," Ahmed observed. "These immigrants are left to rely on food pantries or have to make hard choices between paying for school materials or buying food to keep them nourished and ready to learn."
Advocates have organized under the banner of the "Food4All" campaign, a coalition of 100 groups around the state. They say 46% of undocumented immigrants under age 55 experience food insecurity.
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