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Food for thought:a Thanksgiving menu

By the California Food Policy Advocates
Thursday November 22, 2001

Many of us will contribute turkeys, canned goods, gift certificates and volunteer time to help prevent hunger among low-income families this Thanksgiving holiday. To achieve an end to hunger for these same families in the weeks and months ahead, we propose a supplement to this traditional menu of charitable giving. In the spirit of strong families, healthy children, and successful communities this holiday season California Food Policy Advocates recommends that the public and state policy makers choose at least one option from the following menu of opportunities to reduce hunger. 

For the children:  

a healthy breakfast at school  

Hungry minds should start the day with breakfast; research has shown that kids who eat school breakfast do better on standardized tests and are less disruptive in the classroom. Too many of California’s schools do not serve breakfast, including many low performing schools that have a special responsibility to give children the tools they need to succeed. This year, California should require that all schools failing under the state’s School Accountability Act serve breakfast. This will give thousands of low-income children a healthy start to their day, and a start to a successful life. For more information on this menu item, visit 

For our seniors:  

food stamps for seniors on fixed incomes  

California is the only state where elderly seniors and disabled people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can’t get food stamps. This means that a low-income senior living alone has to stretch $712 each month to cover rent, medical expenses and other necessities. Too frequently, these seniors don’t have enough money left over for food. California’s current policy for SSI and food stamps helps families that have both SSI and non-SSI recipients – for example, a family with a disabled child. But this policy hurts seniors who live alone and struggle to get by on $712 a month. Therefore CFPA proposes keeping current policy in place for the families that it helps, but ending it for those who are hurting: live-alone SSI recipients. We propose that these live-alone seniors be able to keep their $712 and still be eligible for federal food stamp help. See 

For working Californians: red tape reduction.  

Working folks in California trying to supplement their wages with food stamps face endless red tape, chief among these problems is monthly reporting. With monthly reporting food stamp recipients must turn in a statement of income, assets and other information each month or immediately lose benefits. This means 650,000 households are turning in these monthly reports even when there are no changes from month to month and when millions are spent by administrators to process these forms. Over 40 others states have recognized the need to reduce this red tape for hard working folks and have ended monthly reporting. We recommend that policymakers end monthly reporting and choose one the alternatives already used in other states. This would reduce hassles for hungry folks and save the state $22.5 million. See: 


California Food Policy Advocates, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious and affordable food, can be reached at 415-777-4422