Today marks Day 1 of my 2012 Hunger Challenge, my fourth consecutive as a state legislator. Thanks to the few hardy souls who have joined me in living on a "food stamp budget" of $22.30 for the week. While we will end our food insecurity in five days, millions of Californians do not have that luxury.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not fare well under the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee's 2012 Farm Bill mark-up. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has offered an amendment to restore the proposed cuts. The inevitable complications of an election year point to the final Farm Bill details to be worked out later this year, placing millions of hungry Americans and the farmers who feed America in the balance. The fight to protect SNAP can and must continue as we continue to make our way back through tough economic times.
Closer to home, this Friday, June 15, is the state budget deadline. I am calling it "Cut-Mageddon". According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), over 19 percent of Californians are unable to afford enough food to eat. Despite this widespread hardship, the Governor's 2012-13 budget calls for more than $2 billion in health and human services reductions. SNAP remains a 100% federal benefit--but federal reductions could devastate the California program, CalFresh.