The New Deal was a response to the Great Depression with the goal of helping the poor get back on their feet and working toward economic recovery, so that another depression wouldn’t occur. One of the results of the New Deal was the Food Stamp program, “which had immediate benefits to the urban poor, food producers, grocers and wholesalers, as well as farmers, thereby winning support from both liberal and conservative Congressmen” [1]. The Food Stamp program is now called SNAP (CalFresh in California), but has the same goal of getting people back on their feet while putting money directly back into the economy as people use their benefits in grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

SNAP is not intended to be a lifetime solution and participants don’t treat it that way; in fact 75 percent of the people receive benefits for a year or less. When the economy improves, SNAP participation will decline. The Census Bureau indicates that SNAP would lift 3.9 million Americans—including 1.7 million children— out of poverty in 2010 if its benefits were included in the official measures of income and poverty [2].

For every one allegation of fraud, there are hundreds of stories of heartbreaking need. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, who have no political affiliations, just growing brains and bodies in need of food. You rarely hear the stories of the dad struggling to feed his kids after his hours were cut, the mom who is trying to make it on her own after leaving an abusive husband or the grandparents trying to raise their grandchildren on a fixed income, but this is the real face of SNAP/CalFresh.

As we take the Hunger Challenge, we keep in mind the children and individuals who are the most vulnerable among us. Please Take Action against proposed deep cuts to healthcare and human services, including cutting $1.2 billion from Medi-Cal, $880 million from CalWORKs, $453 million from child care, and $225 million from In-Home Supportive Services.

Call leaders in Sacramento and ask them to protect safety net programs from devastating cuts.

  • Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez: (916) 319-2046
  • Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg: (916) 651-4006
  • Governor Jerry Brown: (916) 445-2841, press 1 for English and 6 to speak to staff

Tell leaders about the hardship you see in your community and explain how safety net assistance like CalFresh, CalWORKs and child care is critical for keeping struggling families from facing hunger and homelessness.

If you would like to learn more about the Hunger Challenge and the issue of Hunger in America, please visit the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano website or stop by the Food Bank Facebook page to tell us your thoughts on the Challenge.