Prop 30 vs Prop 38

California teacher-backed Prop 30 fights off millionaire-backed Prop 38 (via Raw Story )

Next week Californians will quite literally vote on the future of education funding in the state. Backed by California Gov. Jerry Brown and supported by California teachers unions, Proposition 30 would increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians and increase sales taxes by a quarter of a cent for…



CalFresh Helps Individuals and Business Community

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter – The vision of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is this: through our efforts, we can assure every person in need in the community that they will be able to receive one meal a day. It is an ambitious goal because even though we are serving more than 130,000 people each month and distributing 17 million pounds of food each year, the number of people coming to us indicates there is much more to do.

Several years ago, we recognized we could make a difference by helping people enroll in the CalFresh program (the new name for the food stamp program). We have staff members who go to food distribution sites and help people understand what they need to do to enroll in the CalFresh program. We work with county enrollment workers at “train the trainer” workshops to create a network of people who can help those coming for food assistance enroll in the CalFresh program.

Because of the economic downturn and community enrollment efforts, participation in the CalFresh program has increased dramatically in Solano County. More than 20,000 households (more than 40,000 individuals) in Solano County are receiving CalFresh — 9.6 percent of the entire county. These households are trying to survive on an income of 130 percent of the poverty rate (approximately $29,976 for a family of four). Helping people enroll in the CalFresh program provides people with the money they need to buy food for their family.

I hope the work we do helps people understand that CalFresh is a nutrition program that brings federal dollars into our community, where it is spent in our local grocery stores. For every CalFresh dollar that comes into a community, $1.73 of economic activity is generated.

Like the school lunch program or the senior meal program, CalFresh exists so we can help feed our neighbors.

Hunger Hurts; 500,000 Households at Risk

The real “Hunger Challenge” is about to get harder. The House Agriculture Committee released the legislative language for their Farm Bill Thursday afternoon and their bill calls for bigger cuts to food stamp program than the Senate bill, four times the amount of cuts incorporated in the Senate bill. The House cut to “heat and eat” policy would mean that 500,000 SNAP households would lose $90 a month in SNAP food benefits.


You can help!

The committee will mark up the bill on Wednesday July 10, and harmful amendments that would make deeper cuts or harmful policy changes are likely.

Please join us for a National Call-in Day on Tuesday, July 10. Use the toll-free number [1-877-698-8228] to call House Members with the message, “No SNAP Cuts/Hunger Hurts.”

We must demonstrate outrage over the proposed cuts, our champions have no leverage to push back and program opponents have no reason to stop cutting. Please help us send a strong message by calling 1-877-698-8228 on Tuesday.

Lessons Learned

I’m down to my last hours of the Hunger Challenge. If I had to do this all over again I would have shopped differently. I could have done with one package of pasta and one jar of sauce and bought more veggies with the money instead. We have a ton of pasta left over! And loads of shredded chicken (by the way, that crock pot chicken recipe is very tasty).

The first couple of days were the hardest and I will admit that I did grab some crackers out the cupboard that were not part of my budget. My head hurt for the first three days and I know I was not very productive at work or at home. The last few days were actually a little easier but I am so tired of bean and cheese burritos and would give anything for an apple and some peanut butter. I’m looking forward to having yogurt again (gogurt doesn’t really count as yogurt although when I was hungry it worked) and big salad.


For me, this will be over in a few hours. I know during this experiment I went through nothing compared to what someone really receiving CalFresh benefits would be going through. In addition to being deprived of a sufficient amount of food CalFresh recipients are under an enormous amount of financial stress. They wouldn’t qualify for CalFresh if they weren’t.

I feel so blessed that I am able to feed my family sufficiently and a variety of foods. I also feel moved to make some changes in my community. Do you? There are bills in the state legislature that will help improve CalFresh, there are potential cuts in the state budget that will make things harder for people already struggling, and the Farm Bill is moving through the Senate were there are threats to cut SNAP further. You can make a difference by speaking out against these cuts and up for improvements to the program. Visit the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s website to find out what you can do to take action.

Planning is Key

My meals were planned for the week and in a perfect world everything was going to be just as I had worked out on paper. Except… I forgot to put my chicken in the crock pot yesterday morning. That’s ok. We just had pasta (again) for dinner and I planned to make the chicken tacos today. Except… I ran out the door without putting the chicken in the crock pot! I remembered before I even left the driveway so I ran back in the house and started the chicken. I was already running late this morning before the crock pot incident and even considered not making a lunch for my husband or myself (the kid was going to a friend’s and would be fed lunch there) but I knew we didn’t have money in our “food stamp” budget to buy lunch. (Note: you can’t buy fast food or prepared food with CalFresh benefits. For the purposes of this challenge any food purchases are to be included in our allotment. If you have seen “EBT Accepted” sign at a fast food place, that is for homeless or seniors only who may not have kitchens to prepare their food.) The result of all of these plans going awry this morning: I was late to my meeting. Not good.


Tuna Pasta dinner from Tuesday night

When you are already working long hours, maybe working at two jobs, taking your kids to and from day care, and staying up late worrying about how you are going to pay your bills and feed your kids, your plans don’t always work out how you, well, planned. Running late can happen to anyone. But when you are already distracted at work because of the stress of not knowing how you are going to put food on the table, running late to work is just another thing working against you. You are probably worried about the security of your job at this point. I’m just guessing how someone on this sort of food budget might feel. I really don’t know but I do know I have been more distracted, tired and overall feeling less productive since I started this challenge. I can only imagine how scary all this would be if this was really the life I was living.

I would love to hear how you plan and stay on track for your meals without having to go for take out when things don’t work out as you intended. I think this is something many of struggle with whether or not we receive CalFresh/SNAP benefits.


Hunger Isn’t a Game

The only way to truly know the hunger millions of Americans struggle with every day is to live it. I know that with just five days it is impossible to really understand that struggle. My hope is that through my experiences with the Hunger Challenge, I will understand just a little more than I did before about the struggles many of our neighbors face every day and by sharing my thoughts and experiences it will help someone else understand.

This month is a critical time to be talking about hunger in our community. The State legislature has until Friday to approve a state budget that currently looks like will include cuts to safety net programs that keep many Californians from going hungry. At the federal the senate is working on a Farm Bill that could cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/CalFresh benefits. The House is expected to take up this legislation soon as well.

Two things you can do today:

1.      Tweet your support for social safety net programs to CA legislative leaders!

@CASenateDems @MarkLeno Say NO to HHS cuts proposed by @JerryBrownGov, say YES to revenue solutions in the #CABudget !

@CASenateDems @MarkLeno We need a #CAGov that serves the young & old, the low-income and those w/disabilities! Protect HHS in #CABudget

@SpeakerPerez TY for speaking out for the social safety net ! @CASenateDems @MarkLeno CA families need your help too: NO HHS CUTS in #CABudget !

@CASenateDems @MarkLeno Say NO to further health and human service cuts in the #CABudget proposed by @JerryBrownGov !

@CASenateDems @MarkLeno We need YOU to champion vital health & social programs in #CA Budget ! Revenue solutions, not cuts @JerryBrownGov

@CASenateDems @MarkLeno tell @JerryBrownGov NO MORE CUTS to vital social safety net programs in #CABudget !

2.      Urge Congress to protect current funding for the SNAP in the 2012 Farm Bill and to maintain current structure, eligibility requirements, and benefit levels.

The U.S. Senate is currently considering Farm Bill legislation passed in committee that would cut $4.5 billion from SNAP, and the House is expected to take up Farm Bill reauthorization soon. The proposed cuts in the Senate Farm Bill, S.3240, would prevent California from implementing the “Heat and Eat” application simplification reform passed by AB 6 (Fuentes) in 2011. This cut would mean less food in the refrigerator for already hungry families. An estimated 200,000 California households would not receive a 13% increase in benefits, or about $43 a month.

This challenge is helping me to see firsthand how difficult it is to eat adequately and nutritiously on a SNAP budget. When your budget is already this tight, $43 a month can mean the difference between eating or not.

Call your representatives at the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121. Or find them on facebook and post this message there!

Deliver this message: As your constituent, I urge you to protect hunger-relief programs in the Farm Bill and oppose any amendments that would weaken SNAP and other hunger-relief programs.

If you would like to learn more about the Hunger Challenge and the issue of Hunger in America, please visit the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s website.