Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN) led by our Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson descended on the state capitol on May 17 to support anti-hunger policies that impact families struggling to put food on the table in San Diego County. Joining Diane was Ashley Harrington, Manager of Public Affairs and Young Adult Initiatives at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Kelcey Ellis, Director of Programs at Feeding San Diego, Gabriela Arias, Resident Services Coordinator at Housing on Merit, and Nina Ghatan, Coordinator of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative at Community Health Improvement Partners. They shared their expertise with San Diego's representatives to demonstrate our region's problem with food insecurity and the positive impact anti-hunger legislation would have on hundreds of thousands of low-income San Diegans.
This year, HAN offered an innovative way for constituents who couldn’t travel to Sacramento to use their online voice to support statewide anti-hunger policies. HAN's Digital Lobby Day was the initial advocacy effort of the group’s Hunger Free Activist grassroots network. Leading up to Digital Lobby Day, Activists were sent information on how to contact their representative on social media as well as templates and memes to help create posts and tweets in support of HAN's priority state policies. The online support generated during Digital Lobby Day helped amplify and strengthen the presence of San Diego’s anti-hunger community.
While in Sacramento, HAN members met with Assemblymember Rocky Chavez and with the staffs of Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator Ben Hueso, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, and Assemblymember Shirley Weber. HAN’s discussions with representatives focused on the San Diego Hunger Coalition's latest food insecurity data and gaining support for the Network’s 2017 state priority policy initiatives:
- SB 138 (McGuire) - Feed the Kids: This legislation would automatically enroll low-income children on Medi-Cal in free school meals and calls upon very high poverty schools to offer free school meals to all students.
- AB 214 (Weber) – College Hunger: This legislation would address college student hunger by defining terms used in the CalFresh program to determine eligibility and clarifying the law concerning CalFresh Restaurant Meal Program on college campuses.
- AB 1219 (Eggman) – Good Samaritan Food Donation Act: This legislation clarifies and expands existing liability protections for organizations that provide, receive and distribute donated food to reduce waste and increase resources to feed more struggling San Diegans.
- AB 164 (Arambula) – California Leads to Meet Food Needs: This legislation would establish a new state funded anti-hunger CalFresh benefit to be issued using the EBT system during disasters such as drought and in the case of federal SNAP ineligibility.
- AB 607 (Gloria) - Community Resiliency & Disaster Preparedness Act of 2017: This legislation would protect against increased hunger and hardship among low-income families by requiring the CalFresh program to maximize replacement benefit options during a disaster or power-outage and provide additional budget in the case of a disaster declared by the Governor to improve the success of a federal request for disaster anti-hunger aid.
The following week on May 24, Diane was back in Sacramento representing HAN alongside more than 200 anti-hunger advocates from cities and communities across California as part of Hunger Action Day. This time she met with the staffs of Senator Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Randy Voepel.
As the food security safety net continues to come under threat at the federal level, it is more important than ever to strengthen our state’s support for policies and programs that help San Diegans have enough food for a healthy active life. Learn more and sign up to be a Hunger Free Activist here. By doing so you'll receive periodic opportunities to use your voice to advocate for anti-hunger legislation so you can tailor your level of engagement.