With 20% of Californians Experiencing Hunger, Food Banks Call for Continued Support in Governor Newsom’s State Budget

California Association of Food Banks

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– California food banks call for key investments in the California State Budget. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks have served on the frontlines, responding to at least double the demand for emergency food. In April 2020 alone, food banks distributed food to more than 1.5 million households — about 4.54 million people — more than half (62%) the number of people they served in the entirety of 2019. 

Right now, nearly 20% of all California households — and 27.3% of Latinx and 35.5% of Black households with children — are reporting food insecurity. This is 8 million Californians, and double pre-pandemic rates. 

With the overall population experiencing food insecurity, the proportion of Californians reporting food insufficiency actually increased by 2.1% bringing the rate to 10.0% — approximately 2.5 million adults and 750,000 children. Food insufficiency or “very low food security” is nested within the traditional food insecurity rates and captures those who experience toxic stress from not knowing where their next meal will come from. As demonstrated by the Great Recession, it could take up to a decade for food insecurity to return to pre-pandemic levels.

For food banks to meet this ongoing demand, they request continued investments from the State. In 2020, CAFB’s food bank network served more than 1 billion pounds of food — a 74% increase from 2019.

“Food banks could not have distributed more than a billion pounds of food without the support from the State. With record demand and hunger levels sustaining, we need ongoing support from the State and Budget investments in California’s food banks. Now more than ever, and as fire season draws closer, we need the State to bring all resources to bear on this hunger crisis,” said Andrew Cheyne, director of government affairs for the California Association of Food Banks. “Access to food is a fundamental human right.”

Budget Requests:

  • $110 Million: Emergency Food (Sen. Laird, Asm. Wicks)
    Food banks continue to serve record demand for emergency food. We must sustain the successful emergency food box program. Since the program began on March 21, 2020 food banks have received 3 million boxes and has proven to be an essential supply of food.
  • $150 Million: Capacity Enhancements (Asm. Daly)
    While serving record demand, food banks have faced an increase in operational costs, and require enhanced capacity to store and distribute more California-grown produce and protein.
  • $32 Million: Climate & Disaster Resilience (Sen. Newman, Asm. Villapudua)
    We must ensure food banks are climate ready to prevent catastrophic food loss, while remaining able to serve when disaster strikes and Californians are in greatest need.
  • SB 240: Prevent the Healthy Food Donation Tax Credit from Expiring (Sen. Eggman, Asm. Levine) 
    Helps farmers and food banks while preventing food waste, by extending the 15% tax credit for donations to food banks until 2027.

Food Banks on the Frontlines:

  • “In Sacramento County alone, we traditionally have had higher food insecurity rates than state and national averages. This need has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Blake Young, President/CEO of Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. “As the number of people we serve continues to grow, we recognize that support from the State is imperative as we work to eradicate hunger in our communities.”
  • “Food Banks are essential organizations responding to a manufactured emergency, and one that we believe will be eradicated: hunger. We must grow our capacity to respond to this emergency in the context of an ever-growing environmental crisis that reflects and exacerbates long-standing racial injustices. And we must invest resources in ways that move communities toward self-sufficiency within an equitable food system,” said Deen Hasaan, Director of Policy & Partnerships, Alameda County Community Food Bank.
  • “COVID-19 has completely changed the hunger landscape in San Diego County,” said James Floros, President and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. “Our food bank pivoted to meet the exponential increase in need, and we will continue to serve San Diego County for many years to come, but State support is critical. In San Diego County alone we have $100 million in unmet need for facility upgrades, and the State food boxes help us provide healthy food in safe, contact-free distributions. We are grateful that the State has been with us during this urgent time of need, but we’re not out of this yet. We need investments that will help us meet this ongoing hunger crisis and put us on the path toward a hunger-free future.”
  • “The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is now serving nearly twice as many families as we did pre-pandemic – 55,000 a week now compared to 30,000 before. The economic impacts of the pandemic will be with us for a long time and the need in our community is not going away, but we are at capacity. We need support from our elected leaders to expand our warehouse capacity and ensure we have enough food to keep up with the ongoing demand,” said Marchon Tatmon, Government Affairs Manager, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. “Food Banks are crisis response organizations, going into this year’s fire season ensuring we have the resources to keep up with current demand and support anyone impacted by a natural disaster will be critical.”

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