What’s our net worth? That was the question recently posed to legislators by over 400 citizen advocates including food bank and pantry staff and volunteers, clients of emergency food programs. They convened in Sacramento on May 17th for Hunger Action Day to protest $2 billion in proposed cuts to safety net services (including CalFresh) that help California’s most vulnerable combat hunger and poverty. The Santa Cruz County delegate of 14 included representatives from Familia Center in Santa Cruz, Mariposa Wellness Center in Watsonville and parents of the Gault Elementary Parent Nutrition Program, coordinated by Second Harvest.
Stirring speeches and unifying demonstrations reflected the conviction of the assembled crowd. Members spoke to representatives of Assemblymembers Luis Alejo and Bill Monning about the resulting strain that the cuts will put on food banks, pantries, and others providing emergency food. “When there are hungry people in our community, it affects all of us, not just those struggling to make ends meet,” said Joel Campos, Senior manager, Outreach & Education, Second Harvest Food Bank.
The day was organized by California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC), of which Second Harvest is a member. ”CHAC stands strongly to uphold the dignity of those at risk of losing the safety net. By visiting our representatives we’re advocating for bills and opposing cuts to programs that keep the needy with the basics,” Bob Cadwalader, Second Harvest volunteer.
For more on coverage, check out the video.
How can you help?
This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to begin consideration of the Farm Bill (S.3240) on the Senate floor. They will consider amendments and debate the bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee, which contained a $4.5B SNAP/CalFresh cut.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has announced that she will introduce an amendment to the Farm Bill that restores the $4.5B cut to SNAP. She is currently asking for other Senators to cosponsor the amendment. There will also most likely be amendments that would make deeper cuts to SNAP.
Contact Senators Feinstein and Boxer and urge them to demonstrate their support for SNAP:
– Call a toll-free hotline at 877-698-8228
– Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
– You will then be connected to the first Senator. Deliver this message:
As your constituent, I urge you to protect hunger-relief programs in the Farm Bill. Specifically, I ask that you cosponsor Senator Billibrand’s amendment to restore the cut to SNAP and oppose any amendments that would weaken SNAP or other hunger-relief programs.
– You will then be connected to the second Senator; deliver the same message.
– Don’t forget to share this information with friends, co-workers and other local supporters.