A right to food

To see recent reporting on hunger and food access, which has been subsidized with a grant from the Sierra Health Foundation, visit SN&R’s Food Access page.

More than four decades ago, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy described “the slow destruction of a child by hunger” as a form of violence. And yet that violence endures, as has been documented in recent stories in this publication, as well as others.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent signature on Assembly Bill 6, which removed the requirement of fingerprinting to participate in the CalFresh program—the federally funded and state-run food-stamp program—is a good step in ending this violence. We applaud the efforts of Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) in writing this bill, and of all the legislators who worked to pass it. We also applaud the passage of A.B. 152, which provides a 10 percent tax cut for farmers and growers who donate fresh fruit and vegetables to food banks and farmers markets.

But there is much, much more to be done. Currently, only half the people in California who are eligible for CalFresh participate in the program. Establishing a food-assistance program goes only part way to ending the violence that hunger enacts on our fellow citizens, many of whom are children or the elderly. We must take further action to see that food actually reaches the people who need it.

For instance, the application process for CalFresh needs serious streamlining; in order to reach the people who need it, a “one-stop” process is required.

If people are hungry, we need to see that they get food—without unnecessary barriers to assistance. We encourage the Legislature to revisit the CalFresh application process and reporting requirements. Food is a basic human right, and feeding the hungry is the right thing to do.