The San Diego Hunger Coalition represents the voice of nearly half a million San Diegans who don’t have ready access to healthy, affordable food by sharing their experiences with policymakers and advocating for improvements to anti-hunger policies and programs. We act as a resource for county, state, and federal policymakers, providing research summaries, policy analyses, and case studies of what’s happening in San Diego to inform their policy decisions. We coordinate local advocates to meet with policymakers, make phone calls, and write letters supporting state and federal legislation.  

The Hunger Coalition routinely monitors and shares research that highlights how hunger affects children’s capacity to learn, adult’s capacity to earn, and the health of our region. We also conduct original research to inform policy recommendations and educate the public. 


Hunger Advocacy Network

What is the Hunger Advocacy Network? 

Facilitated by San Diego Hunger Coalition, the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN or “the Network”) is a collaborative of 21 human service agencies, food banks and advocacy organizations working to shape state and federal policies to end hunger. Nicky Riordan of Feeding San Diego currently serves as HAN’s Chair and Karla Samayoa of 2-1-1 San Diego serves as Vice Chair. 

These organizations are on the front lines of addressing the diverse needs of low-income, food insecure San Diegans on a daily basis, including providing emergency food assistance, affordable housing, healthcare services, nutrition education, technical assistance to schools, and much more. However, while we strive to meet the needs of today, ending hunger in San Diego can only be accomplished by large-scale, systems change. Together we make lasting change, improving food assistance and addressing root causes of hunger, to create a hunger-free tomorrow.

How does the Hunger Advocacy Network affect change?

The Network has achieved measurable change by influencing state budget and legislative policy, and by increasing awareness among legislators and the public about hunger in San Diego. Each year, HAN develops an advocacy agenda, testifies on behalf of bills at the state capitol, hosts legislative breakfasts and community events, and meets with legislators in San Diego and Sacramento to educate them about addressing hunger and the Network’s legislative and budget priorities. 

The deep expertise and experience of the Network’s front-line organizations offer legislators important insight and resources to produce smarter, more informed legislation.  The Hunger Advocacy Network brings together the statistics and the first person accounts of those facing hunger to provide a full picture of the problem we are fighting.

How are the Hunger Advocacy Network’s legislative priorities determined?

The Hunger Advocacy Network uses a democratic, collaborative model to consider all possible solutions and focus legislative efforts on the most promising initiatives to make a lasting impact in San Diego County. 

Hunger Advocacy Network Accomplishments

  • Successfully advocated for the extension and expansion of the donated fresh fruits and vegetables tax credit. This credit incentivises farmers to donate unsold product to food banks throughout the state, including Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank, providing low income families with access to healthier food and preventing food waste. Nearly all of the produce distributed through food assistance programs in San Diego County is the result of California farmers participating in this important program. 
  • Successfully advocated for $5 million in state funding for the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant program. This will leverage an additional $5 million in federal funding for the expansion of local nutrition incentive programs across a more equitable cross-section of communities.  For example, we hope to see many more “double your bucks” programs that incentivize the use of CalFresh at farmers markets. 
  • Successfully advocated for $2 million in state funding to expand the existing School Breakfast Startup Grant program to use over two years. This funding will be prioritized for school districts with over 60 percent lower-income students to implement "Breakfast after the Bell," which increases school breakfast participation and improves attendance and academic performance.
  • HAN worked with Representatives Susan Davis (CA-53) and Juan Vargas (CA-51) on the introduction of an amendment to a federal defense bill that would help address hunger faced by active duty military families. Reducing hunger among military families continues to be a strong priority for HAN.

    Does your organization want to join in the fight to end hunger?

    Contact Hunger Advocacy Network Manager Diane Wilkinson
    at or (619) 501-7349 ext. 107.

    View all of the Hunger Advocacy Network Member Organizations


Latest Policy & Advocacy Program Updates

Federal Policy Initiatives

Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization of 2015

This legislation oversees all federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, and Summer Meals.  SDHC will have a special focus on the expansion of the summer meals ETB card program and increasing school nutrition standards. The current Child Nutrition Act, which was passed in 2010, expired in 2015. We are working in collaboration with local and state partners to develop an overarching agenda for ways to improve school meals during the next re-authorization cycle.

We are particularly interested in advocating for an EBT option for the summer meals program, which would put money on an electronic benefit transfer card (like a debit card) for lower-income children to replace the meals that they would be getting at school when it was in session. In 2014, SDHC released Help Them Eat at Home: Why the Federal Summer Meals Program for Kids has Chronically Low Participation and What Can Be Done about It,” which outlines the pros and cons of different summer meal program models and the advantages of using EBT rather than requiring all children to come to meal sites when school is out for the summer. The report earned extensive media coverage and informed legislation introduced by Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Representative Susan Davis (CA). The report also prompted discussions between the Food and Nutrition Service and the California Department of Social Services on actions the state would need to take to prepare for an electronic benefits program.

Farm Bill and Appropriations 

SNAP/CalFresh continues to come under attacks fueled by misinformation and mean-spirited stereotypes. We will continue to defend the program against proposals to cut funding and increase red-tape in the application process. We will also continue to work to build alliances with those who share our values who work on other parts of the farm bill than the nutrition title. We have worked with and continuing to work with GOAT, the statewide coalition of anti-hunger advocates known as the California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) as well as local food advocates.

 2016 Priority State Policy Initiatives

AB1747 (Weber):  This legislation offers tools to address the college student hunger epidemic by establishing a program to fund to support coordination between Campus Food Pantries and California Food Banks and promoting CalFresh outreach on campus.

AB1584 (Brown):  This legislation would restore the state Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in the SSI/SSP program.  During the recession, California made several devastating cuts to SSI/SSP that resulted in sub-poverty level grant amounts and the loss of the California COLA. Today, 1.3 million California seniors and people living with disabilities are struggling to survive on extremely low incomes, and making impossible choices between paying for housing, buying food and paying for medical costs.

AB1770 (Alejo):  This legislation would extend eligibility for CalFresh to all immigrant Californians who are legally present in the United States.  Expanding eligibility for CalFresh is not only moral. It would help reduce hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in California. The state has the largest immigrant population in the country, approximately 10.5 million people comprising 27% of the state population.

SB1232 (Leno):  This legislation would require state and county agencies that administer the CalFresh Program to use existing employment and income verification databases to simplify the eligibility process for CalFresh applicants.  Low wage workers face significant barriers to participation in the CalFresh Program.  Few have paid time off or reliable transportation to get to the county welfare department for the application process. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 reporting, only 53% of eligible working families in California receive this federally funded food benefit.

A full list of San Diego Hunger Coalition and Hunger Advocacy Network legislative priorities can be found here.

Current Local Policy Initiatives

The goal of our work in the local food system is to identify areas where the food system can be improved in order to ensure more equal access to healthy food throughout our community. 

San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative

San Diego Hunger Coalition is an active partner in workgroups designed to support efforts to prevent and reduce childhood obesity. More information can be found here.

Participation Levels in CalFresh within San Diego County 

We will continue to work with the County Health and Human Services Department to eliminate administrative barriers that keep struggling families from getting food assistance benefits.

San Diego Food System Alliance

We are an active member of the San Diego Food System Alliance. The Food System Alliance has ratified their charter. The charter and information about the work of the Food System Alliance can be found here