Hurtado introduces food assistance bill in light of COVID fallout

Hurtado’s bill is intended to help residents, undocumented immigrants receive state funded food assistance

SACRAMENTO – The global pandemic has touched the lives of everyone. Some families in the Central Valley, as a result, have suffered from food insecurity.

State senator, Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) recently introduced a bill to ensure food assistance for all eligible residents, regardless of their immigration status.

“Hunger knows no border, no race and no nationality and we can unite around responding to this economic crisis by helping those who need it the most,” said Senator Hurtado, who is the chair of the Senate Human Services Committee. “We Californians benefit from immigrants’ labor in ways we never see, so when times are tough we must extend a hand – and food – to all who need it regardless of immigration status. I know what it means to experience food insecurity, and no one deserves to go through that – especially those families who keep our nation’s food secure.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 464, allows a non-citizen immigrant to be eligible for the California Department of Social Services-administered California Food Assistance Program, if the individual satisfies all other CalFresh eligibility requirements. The new policy would go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Currently, undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, holders of Temporary Protected Status and certain Visa holders are excluded from federal CalFresh and the state-funded food assistance program.

“This legislative proposal would help us a lot in these times, since the pandemic has prevented many families from working and we are in great need right now,” said Juana M. from Fresno, who declined to give her last name. “By not having legal status we are excluded from many benefits. Food is essential. We all have the right and possibility of access to food assistance.”

“CalFresh is a critical lifeline for accessing nutrition assistance, but many immigrants are unjustly excluded from CalFresh and our state-funded California Food Assistance Program (CFAP),” Jared Call, senior advocate, at Nourish CA said. “SB 464 addresses this longstanding discrimination to ensure all Californians have access to food, regardless of their immigration status. When every person has the food they need, California can be a more resilient, thriving state.”

“Food is a basic human right, but California’s immigrant communities continue to face barriers to getting the food they need,” said Orville Thomas, Director of Government Affairs, at the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Food4All Immigrants will address the unjust immigrant exclusion from accessing food assistance and bring greater opportunity for immigrants to thrive in California.”

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