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Rep. Jimmy Panetta Visits Second Harvest Food Bank: Advocating for Continued CalFresh Funding

Date: August 1, 2023
Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s recent visit to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County shed light on the challenges faced by his constituents since the end of emergency allotments of CalFresh (nationally known as SNAP) benefits on March 26, 2023. The visit highlighted the dire circumstances faced by families as they navigate reduced benefits amidst record inflation, emphasizing the need for continued CalFresh funding.

Second Harvest participants from District 19 shared heart-wrenching stories of making tough choices between nutritional necessities due to inadequate benefits. Rep. Panetta and his team listened attentively, recognizing these stories as compelling evidence for the necessity of sustained CalFresh support. The Congressman committed to championing funding in the upcoming Farm Bill, echoing his successful efforts in 2018 when similar cuts were proposed.

Erica Padilla-Chavez, CEO Second Harvest, elaborated on the increased demand for supplemental support resulting from benefit reductions. Winter storms and shifts in food distribution exacerbated the problem, leaving food bank shelves bare. Rep. Panetta inquired about the impact of CARES Act and American Rescue Act funding, learning that The Food Bank now relies heavily on community donations due to decreased federal aid.

Discussion also revolved around the pending Farm Bill vote, with Rep. Panetta emphasizing the bipartisan nature of the bill. He expressed concerns about attempts to restrict available foods and impose stricter work requirements, vowing to safeguard and expand CalFresh benefits in collaboration with his Democratic colleagues.

Addressing Second Harvest’s concerns about sustaining CalFresh, Rep. Panetta urged engagement beyond District 19. He encouraged advocates to mobilize friends and family in other parts of California and across the nation to share their stories and support for CalFresh/SNAP. He emphasized that a united front is essential to ensure that the program’s funding remains protected and viable.

Rep. Panetta’s visit underscored his commitment to addressing the challenges faced by CalFresh recipients in his district and beyond. By listening to personal stories of Santa Cruz County residents, understanding the impact of reduced benefits, and advocating for continued funding, he showcases a dedicated effort to alleviate food insecurity and ensure the well-being of all Americans.

We thank Rep. Jimmy Panetta for stopping by Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County and for listening to his constituency.