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 17 health, housing and social services agencies working together to influence and advance state and federal policies to end hunger.  Chris Carter, VP of Marketing, Communications & Public Affairs for the San Diego Food Bank and Ashley Harrington, Public Affairs Manager for Jewish Family Services serve as HAN's Co-chairs. 

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 effect 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 San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu at
    at or (619) 501-7349 ext. 102.

    View all of the Hunger Advocacy Network Member Organizations

Latest Policy & Advocacy Program Updates

 2019 Priority State Policy Initiatives

An important part of ending hunger in San Diego County is advocating for better policies statewide. Each year the San Diego Hunger Coalition and members of the Hunger Advocacy Network develop an advocacy agenda that protects and strengthens initiatives that support food security statewide. Below are the five bills that are a priority for the Hunger Advocacy Network in 2019.  

State Legislation

Updated March 29, 2019

AB 341 (Maienschein) - CalHEERS applications for CalFresh  This legislation would make it easier for hundreds of thousands of Californians applying for Medi-Cal using through the online CalHEERS application each year to simultaneously apply for CalFresh by allowing their Medi-Cal application to also qualify as their CalFresh/SNAP application through an opt-in opportunity on the CalHEERS online application. 

View the AB 341 fact sheet. 

UPDATE: Referred to Committee on Appropriations on 3/20/2019.

AB 494 (Berman) - Shelter Expense Deduction:  This legislation would simplify the verification of shelter expense deductions, as reported by CalFresh (SNAP) applications, necessary to determine a household’s CalFresh eligibility or benefit level. County agencies would be prohibited from requiring additional verification documentation unless reported shelter expenses are questionable. This bill would require the State Department of Social Services to issue guidance.

UPDATE: Referred to Committee on Appropriations on 3/27/2019.

View the AB 494 fact sheet.

AB 842 (Limon/Eggman) - Hunger-Free Preschool:  This legislation would ensure that all low-income low-income children in public pre-K have access to nutritious free or reduced-price meals. This legislation would authorize childcare and development programs to access funds made available through existing child nutrition programs (e.g. Child and Adult Care Food Program or CACFP).

View the AB 842 fact sheet. 

UPDATE: Referred to Committee on Education on 3/4/2019. 

AB 614 (Eggman) – Food Bank Tax Credit:  This legislation would expand existing tax credit laws to include the donation of qualified items defined as raw agriculture products or processed foods. It would also expand the definition of qualified tax payers eligible for the tax credit to include the person responsible for growing or raising a qualified donation item, or harvesting, packing, or processing a qualified donation item.

View the AB 614 fact sheet. 

UPDATE: In committee: Hearing for testimony only as of 3/18/2019.

AB 1229 (Wicks) – End Foster Youth Student Hunger in California Act of 2019:  This act would establish the Transition Age Foster Youth Meal Plan Program which will provide eligible transition-age foster youth pursuing a higher education degree at a public post-secondary educational institution with an award equal the the cost of a meal plan that would cover 10 meals per week and all campus fees. This program would be administered by the California Student Aid Commission. This act would also ensure that former foster youth are not denied CalFresh (SNAP) benefits because they have received transitional housing support and would establish an approval process for those who have chosen to participate in an off-campus internship that is not part of a federal or state approved work study.

UPDATE: Referred to Human Services and Higher Education Committees as of 3/11/2019.

Budget Requests

CalFood Budget Request to provide $16.5 million to the CalFood program for food banks to purchase and distribute health California-grown food to communities in need. The current proposed budget provides only $8 million for this program, which places California second-to-last in aid provided to individuals through comparable programs in peer states. The additional $16.5 million would provide 100 million meals out of the state’s estimated 783 million missing meals (as reported by the CA Association of Food Banks). Fund from CalFood may only be used to purchase food produced in California.

View the CalFoods budget request fact sheet.

Hunger Free Preschool budget request supports AB 842. The state can help build the capacity of our early care and education system to prevent hunger, break the cycle of poverty, and close the achievement gap by supporting policies and investments that increase access to meals for our youngest learners.

View the Hunger Free Preschool budget request fact sheet. 

You can learn how to support our efforts on this legislation or other advocacy initiatives by visiting our “Take Action” page or signing up to become a Hunger Free Activist.

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 San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) 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

A Food System Alliance podcast about Hunger Awareness, featuring San Diego Hunger Coalition Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu, can be found here.