Hunger Action Day 2019

By Ward Kanowsky

May 22, 2019 was Hunger Action Day, with over 400 advocates and community members from across California converging on the State Capitol in Sacramento for a day of meetings and joint action with our state legislators. The goal of Hunger Action Day is to make sure our elected officials know the reality of hunger and hardship in California, and to use their voices to help end it.

Indivisible East Bay member Ward Kanowsky attended the event along with several other representatives from the Alameda County Community Food Bank; IEB has been partnering with ACCFB for the past two years and this is the second year in a row IEB members have attended the event. Ward was part of two teams meeting with the staff of State Senator Steve Glazer (7th Senate District) and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (16th Assembly District) to discuss and ask for support on the following legislative priorities:

  • Increase state funding of Supplemental Security Income so the grant is above the federal poverty level: Budget ask and AB 1434
  • Protect adults harmed by the federal 3-month time limit to SNAP/CalFresh: AB 1022 (introduced by AD-15 Assemblymember Wicks)
  • End exclusion of taxpaying, immigrant workers with Individual Taxpayer IDs from the California Earned Income Tax Credit: Budget ask and AB 1593
  • Require preschool and child care meals: AB 842
  • Increase funding for the CalFood Program for California’s 41 food banks: Budget ask from California Hunger Action Coalition, of which ACCFB is a member.

Participants received some good news the following day — two of these bills, AB 1022 and AB 842 passed through the Assembly, their originating house, and moved on to the Senate.

ACCFB regularly participates in Hunger Action Day. One of ACCFB’s core values is that food is a basic human right, and this value was included in the message we delivered to legislators during meetings. The Food Bank serves one in five Alameda County residents; two-thirds of these are seniors and children. ACCFB works towards a stronger, more nourished Alameda County, where no one worries where their next meal will come from.

 

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photograph: ACCFB outside Senator Steve Glazer’s office on Hunger Action Day 2019, by Brittany Paris

Hunger Action Day 2018

Hunger Action Day, the California Hunger Action Coalition’s 22nd annual statewide lobby day, took place on May 16, 2018 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee members Nick Travaglini and Ward Kanowsky took a bus to the event with almost 60 other advocates from the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), one of IEB’s partner organizations, to join over 300 more advocates from across the state.

Hunger Action Day provides an opportunity to be an anti-hunger policy advocate, talk to legislators about ending hunger, and meet fellow advocates from across California. This year’s theme was FOOD IS A HUMAN RIGHT, with some sobering statistics to underscore it:

  • California has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. when accounting for the cost of living: 20% overall, including one in four children
  • Reflecting that 20% figure, ACCFB serves one in five Alameda County residents
  • One in eight Californians experiences food insecurity – does not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food

Nick and Ward joined teams that met with staff of East Bay state representatives Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and Senator Steve Glazer, among many other legislators, to discuss the coalition’s priority anti-hunger policy issues. Team members, who often bring their children to the meetings, are encouraged to share personal stories to show how existing policies – or the lack thereof – affect them and their families. These real life mini-histories take up the bulk of the meetings, and for good reason, since they can have the greatest impact because of their immediacy and emotion.

The top “ask” for all teams – what we all asked the elected officials and their staffs to prioritize – related to lifting seniors and people with disabilities out of poverty. Many in these vulnerable groups rely heavily or solely on monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to get by and are forced to make impossible choices between food, medicine and housing. As a result, many are homeless or at risk of being without housing because they are living at 90% of the federal poverty level. AB 3200 (Kalra) would restore monthly payments to individuals and married couples to 100% of the federal poverty level, and would also reinstate the annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) that was repealed in 2009.

Related to this priority of helping people who receive SSI combat hunger: the dismaying fact that California is the only state where people who receive SSI aren’t eligible for SNAP (CalFresh) benefits – better known as food stamps – due to a program known as Cashout. A movement to end Cashout was discussed with legislative staff by the teams, and ACCFB informed us that the very next day after Hunger Action Daythe Senate Budget Subcommittee voted to end Cashout. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee is expected to follow the Senate Subcommittee with the same actions this week. If both houses pass this measure, people on SSI will be able to get CalFresh benefits. The bottom line is that our voices matter!

If you want to get involved in IEB’s work to end hunger in California, contact Ward.

 

 

IEB Partners with Alameda County Community Food Bank

IEB, through its Outreach to Organizations Team, has partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). September was Hunger Action Month, and ACCFB hosted an event on September 27 to educate the community about the farm bill, a key piece of broad legislation that funds critical anti-hunger programs, primarily the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is called CalFresh in California.

IEB was well represented at the event, which included a celebration of SNAP’s 40th birthday, and featured presentations from Shanti Prasad, Senior Policy Advocate with ACCFB; Melissa Cannon, Nutrition Policy Advocate with California Food Policy Advocates; and Armando Nieto, executive director with Community Food and Justice Coalition.

ACCFB 9.17 event

IEB representatives included Nick Travaglini, Toni Henle, Linda Dougall, Ward Kanowsky, LeAnn Kanowsky, Harold Klobukowski, and Daryl Walke. Also pictured: presenter Shanti Prasad.

Key takeaways included the following:

  • The House Committee on Agriculture has jurisdiction over the farm bill. The committee is chaired by Michael Conaway (R-TX) with Collin Peterson (D-MN) as the ranking member. Majority members from California include Jeff Denham and Doug LaMalfa. The minority member from California is Jim Costa.
  • SNAP is on the chopping block. The FY 2018 House Budget Resolution includes drastic cuts to SNAP.
  • Even though the farm bill has not been introduced yet (it is currently subject to “listening sessions” throughout the country), we can still contact our members of Congress now and urge them to vote no on the 2018 House Budget Resolution and to protect safety net programs like SNAP.

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065