Topics: News, Press

California One Step Closer to Ending Hunger

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council, California Association of Food Banks, GRACE/End Child Poverty California, and the California Food and Farming Network applauded the California State Assembly for passing AB 1961 (Wicks), which will develop, for the first time in state history, a strategic masterplan to end hunger in California. At a time when one in four households with children are food insecure, with deep disparities for Black and Latine households, the groups underscore the urgent need for California to prioritize ending hunger.

“Los Angeles is located in the nation’s fifth-largest food supplier state, and should have easy access to affordable, fresh, quality food, but many of our city’s neighborhoods, like South Los Angeles, are food deserts,” said Kathy Finn, president, UFCW Local 770. “We know hunger is a result of systemic factors that need big solutions to fix. That’s why UFCW is proud to sponsor AB 1961 to establish a broadly inclusive task force that will tackle the inequalities that exist in our current food system, and ensure workers can put fresh, healthy, culturally relevant food on their table each night.”

“Today it’s clear that the hunger crisis is not behind us, it’s upon us. The impact of the end of the pandemic boost to CalFresh benefits last year continues to ripple through our communities, along with the end of many other critical public supports that helped to keep communities nourished. With still incredible demand at food banks, three-quarters have had to scale back their operations while they are faced with dramatic funding shortfalls,” said Stacia Hill Levenfeld, CEO, California Association of Food Banks. “We are proud to co-sponsor this historic initiative that embodies the collaborative spirit needed to address the root causes of food insecurity across our state. By convening experts and stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies, AB 1961 paves the way for a more equitable access to food. Together, we can build a future where no one in California goes hungry.”

“Sadly ironic, hunger is felt disproportionately across people that work in the food and farming system,” said Beth Smoker, Policy Director, California Food and Farming Network. “Food workers face higher levels of food insecurity than the rest of the U.S. workforce with 72% of agricultural workers reporting trouble paying for food, 62% of small farmers experienced food insecurity in a survey of 120 CA farmers, and over three-quarters of workers at a large grocery chain were found to be food insecure. We have a lot of work to do if the people growing, harvesting, and serving our food cannot put adequate food on their own tables and AB 1961 is one important step toward correcting these inequities.”

“Nutrition programs are proven as some of the most effective at helping lift children and families out of poverty, by making sure families have the resources to purchase groceries and take pressure off rent, utilities and other basic needs,” said Shimica Gaskins, President & CEO, GRACE/End Child Poverty California. “Despite recent progress California still has work to do to maximize and augment the federal nutrition programs, including the Summer EBT program, the first new entitlement in a generation. We also saw recently the shameful but predictable rise in food insecurity from the end of many pandemic era expansions that drove hunger to historic lows. The time is now for a comprehensive plan to ensure access to food and build pathways out of poverty through California’s vital food and farming economy.”

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May 23, 2024

Contact: Jenna Thompson, UFCW Western States Council, 949.246.1620, [email protected]