Beall’s Hunger-Fighting Bill Advances To The Governor's Desk
Legislation by Assembly Member Jim Beall Jr. aimed at putting more food in the mouths of California’s poor who have been pummeled by rising unemployment and soaring food prices was approved Thursday by a 44-29 vote in the Assembly and now moves to the Governor’s desk.
Assembly Bill 433 removes unnecessary red tape that has stopped an estimated 86,000 families from obtaining food stamps, a federally funded program that enables very low-income households to purchase staples such as milk, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and meat. The bill, if signed by the Governor, not only provides more food to needy families but also triggers school lunches for their children. It also boosts California’s participation in the food stamp program, currently one of the lowest in the nation.
“The lives of California’s poor and hungry families are complicated enough without having to overcome the time-consuming bureaucratic hurdles that stand in their way from getting food stamps,’’ Beall said. “AB 433 removes those impediments and lets our state leverage federal funds to feed families who are trying to escape poverty. A full stomach is essential to putting in a good day at work or at school. This bill feeds more people and does it with federal dollars – it’s a win-win situation for California.’’
Assembly Bill 433 uses a federal option that allows families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants to become categorically eligible for food stamps, removing a time-consuming deterrent and paperwork-laden task for poor families.
AB 433’s economic benefits are abundant about $130 million in new federal benefits would be pumped into California annually, generating almost $240 million in economic activity. And by providing food stamps, it frees up households to spend an estimated $58 million in taxable purchases, creating $2.9 million in new revenue for the state’s general fund.
The bill, which implements the new category for TANF households next July, also mandates that the state propose a new name for the California Food Stamp program, an outmoded misnomer (the program has long replaced the stamps with a plastic voucher card) that stigmatizes families, making them less prone to apply for benefits.