Budget Win! CalFresh Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot & More
This morning, Governor Jerry Brown signed his 16th and final State Budget. This 2018-19 Budget includes, among other promising investments, the CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot sponsored by CFPA and SPUR!
The 2018-19 State Budget projects a $9 billion surplus for the coming year. It also puts California on track to accumulate more than $16 billion in savings that it can use to prepare for a recession. Governor Brown did not veto any items in the budget package that the Legislature passed earlier this month, and while it left out many critical needs, it sets forth numerous progressive investments.
Budget highlights with respect to food access:
CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot: Success!! SB 845, the Human Services Omnibus Budget Bill, includes the statutory language from SB 900 (Wiener) and includes full funding for pilot implementation, including EBT programming upgrades to support CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable financial incentives; grants for local entities to implement pilot projects; and funding for the fruit and vegetable purchase incentives, expected to come to $9 million in total. Since the budget includes the policy and funding goals from SB 900, that legislation is no longer needed to move forward this year. The CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot will provide CalFresh shoppers in selected pilot locations with a dollar-for-dollar match to purchase California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The Department of Social Services will begin planning for the implementation of this initiative later this year. The funding will remain for pilot implementation for three years.
Elimination of the CalFresh SSI Cash-out Policy: Thanks to the advocacy of a broad coalition led by CA4SSI, the Budget includes one-time funding of $230 million General Fund to eliminate the SSI cash-out policy by August 2019, and creates a "hold harmless" provision to provide supplemental food assistance for households that would be negatively affected by the policy change. Prior to this change, individuals receiving SSI were given a $10 monthly supplemental SSI/SSP benefit, but they could not receive CalFresh benefits and their income was not counted in the benefit calculations for CalFresh households. Elimination of this policy results in approximately 370,000 households becoming newly eligible for CalFresh benefits, with an additional 45,000 households receiving an increase in federal CalFresh benefits. Much work must be done to implement this change, and to ensure that newly-eligible SSI receipients can get enrolled in CalFresh.
CalFood and Food Bank Infrastructure: The California Association of Food Bank's advocacy led to healthy investments that increase the capacity of food banks to provide fresh, healthier food. The 2018-19 Budget invests $8 million in the CalFood program to provide fresh, California-grown food to local food banks, and $5.5 million for one-time infrastructure and equipment to support the transportation and cold storage of fresh foods.
Food for All Stakeholder Group to Improve Immigrant Food Access: CFPA and the California Immigrant Policy Center worked to secure supplemental reporting language to address immigrant food access barriers. The budget establishes a working group to be convened by CDSS to identify how the state and local entities can improve current programs and coordinate linkages to community services to strengthen California’s food assistance safety net for all low-income Californians, and work to remove barriers that exclude immigrant Californians from the state’s food assistance safety net.
Safety Net System Change Oversight: In collaboration with the Alliance to Transform CalFresh, and the Health Consumer Alliance, CFPA was successful in establishing trailer bill to ensure stakeholder oversight of the transition to a unifed state system for public benefits, including CalFresh. The budget requires the State Department of Social Services, the State Department of Health Care Services, the Office of Systems Integration, the SAWS consortia, and the counties meet with advocates, clients, and other stakeholders no less than quarterly to review the development status of the California Automated Consortium Eligibility System (CalACES) and California Statewide Automated Welfare System (CalSAWS) projects.
Additional investments that address poverty include a significant increase in CalWORKS grants for families in deep poverty and a CalWORKs Baby Wellness and Family Support Home Visiting Programg; rants for cities to address homelessness; and and expansion of EITC for low-income Californians.
For more information about CFPA's 2018-19 budget advocacy, visit our State Legislative page. link
Questions? Contract Tracey Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510.433.2122 ext 101