Policy & Advocacy
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 health, housing and social services agencies working together to influence and advance state and federal policies to end hunger. Karla Samayoa, Enrollment Center Programs Manager for 2-1-1 San Diego 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 email@example.com or (619) 501-7349 ext. 102.
View all of the Hunger Advocacy Network Member Organizations
Latest Policy & Advocacy Program Updates
2018 Federal Policy Initiatives
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Farm Bill
SNAP/CalFresh continues to come under attack with Congressional threats to alter the structure of the program in ways that would reduce benefits and hurt local economies. We have joined with more than 3,000 organizations to demonstrate support in safeguarding Federal Nutrition Programs in a letter to President Trump and Congress. We will continue to build alliances with those who share our values and work to protect these important tools that help fight food insecurity for every San Diegan.
H.R. 1078: Military Hunger Prevention Act
In February, Representative Susan Davis (D-San Diego) re-introduced the Military Hunger Prevent Act (H.R.1048) to Congress to make accessing food assistance easier for service members and their families. This bill would prevent military housing allowances from being used to determine eligibility for SNAP/Calfresh. Military families face unique barriers to food assistance. They receive a basic allowance for housing which is determined by where they are stationed, among other factors. The IRS and several federal assistance programs do not consider military housing allowances as income. This red tape and confusion around what consists as income leaves tens of thousands of San Diego’s military families struggling to put food on the table because they are not eligible for CalFresh. The San Diego Hunger Coalition and the Hunger Advocacy Network endorses the Military Prevention Act. Learn more about the Military Hunger Prevention Act and sign our petition to tell Congress military families facing hunger is unacceptable.
2018 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 2018.
AB 3033 (Maienschein) - CalFresh Streamlining: This legislation would make it easier for hundreds of thousands of Californians applying for Medi-Cal using Covered California each year to simultaneously apply for CalFresh by allowing their Medi-Cal application to also qualify as their CalFresh/SNAP application.
AB 1883 (Weber) - Military Hunger: This legislation would exclude the basic allowance for housing (BAH) for active military from being reported as income when determining eligibility for child care and early education programs. It would also create a state program to provide CalFresh/SNAP benefits to low-income military families who are often ineligible for the food assistance program because federal law requires their BAH to be counted as income. This would especially provide relief for military families struggling to make ends meet in areas with high cost of living expenses, like San Diego County.
AB 1871 (Bonta) - Charter School Meals: This legislation would ensure that all low-income, public school students in California, including charter school students, have access to at least one nutritious, free or low-cost school meal each school day.
AB 1894 (Weber) – College Hunger: This legislation would address college student hunger by providing the California State University (CSU) Chancellor the opportunity to provide the CalFresh Restaurant Meal Program (RMP) on all CSU College Campuses, even if the county does not participate in RMP. This creates more food options on campuses for food insecure students on CalFresh.
Breakfast After the Bell requests one million dollars annually over five years in order to extend California's successful Breakfast After the Bell Expansion grants and ensure children facing food insecurity start their day with a nutritious breakfast.
SSI/SSP COLA and Grant Restoration would help the 1.3 million dollars Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients living at 90% below the federal poverty (FPL) by issuing a maximum aid payment (approximately $100) to bring them to 100% FPL and restoring the state Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that was discontinued in 2009. This budget ask would achieve an equitable end to the Cashout program that currently prevents SSI recipients from applying for CalFresh, while holding harmless any household that could stand to lose CalFresh benefits.
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.