The term advocacy is generally used in the nonprofit sector to indicate actions taken towards institutions or the public to influence perceptions and outcomes related to a particular issue. Advocacy encompasses a broad range of activities, from gathering stories to educating legislators about an issue.
Food banks in California and nationwide have increasingly incorporated policy advocacy as a central strategy in their mission to provide food to the hungry and to end hunger in the communities they serve. Food bank staff have specialized knowledge about hunger in their communities, and that knowledge can be very powerful when turned into action through advocacy. Food banks serve constituents who often have a limited voice in the policy decisions that affect them, and the food bank is sometimes the only organization in a community with the resources to bring those voices into the policy process. By engaging in advocacy, food banks can both lift up the stories of hunger and increase their own visibility in a positive way with elected officials, partner organizations, and potential donors.
AB 2725 would require manufacturers to give food one of two labels in California: “Best if used by” would indicate when a food will be at its best quality, and “expires on” would be used solely on highly perishable foods. The bill would help educate consumers about food quality and cut back on food waste. Last year the SLO Food Bank rescued 3 millions pounds of food that would have other wise gone to waste in the community.
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Track the AB 2527 bill here
Many California farmers and producers want to donate to Food Banks but the cost of harvesting, transportation and storage can make a donation prohibitive. The AB 1577 bill will benefit our agriculturally abundant county as it would allow produce donors to receive a higher tax credit for their donations. By helping offset production costs, farmers can ultimately increase the number of local produce donations.
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Track the AB 1577 bill here
Our country’s first line of defense against hunger is our government nutrition programs. Tragically, these programs have seen dramatic cuts in recent years, at a time when poverty and hunger rates are increasing. (California has one of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation, at 27.3%. Learn more about hunger in California.)
Food bank advocacy efforts are essential for protecting and strengthening the safety net programs that can prevent hunger, including:
AB 1240, the Breakfast After the Bell bill, will improve students’ academic achievement, attendance, and mental and physical health by ensuring that more children in California, particularly those served by high-need schools, have access to school breakfast. If you're ready to expand access to school breakfast and lunch for students across California, support AB 1240 (Bonta & Thurmond) and AB 292 (Santiago) today by writing a letter to assembly members!
Join us in helping students in California learn, grow, and achieve: submit a letter of support for Breakfast After the Bell. You can find sample letters to write to assembly members in support of these bills through California Food Policy Advocates' website.
Track the AB 1240 bill here
Simply put, California has long had one of the worst food stamp participation rates in the nation. According to the USDA’s most recent report, for 2011, just over half of eligible households are signed up for the benefits they qualify for.
Every day, six million Californians face hunger or the fear of going hungry. CalFresh – California’s name for the federal food stamp program – is a critical support for many of those facing hunger, providing an average of $330 per household per month for groceries.
However, our State’s historically low participation rate – tied for the worst in the nation, according to the USDA – means that over 3.2 million people are not receiving the $3.5 billion in federal food benefits for which they qualify for food, according to the California Food Policy Advocates. This low rate of participation also means that California is losing $6.3 billion in economic activity that CalFresh usage could generate for our state and, in particular, our food and agriculture sectors.
Tell congress to keep CalFresh strong, let your voice be heard by signing the petition on the Food Action and Research Center’s website.
To learn more about SNAP participation rates visit http://frac.org/reports-and-resources/snapfood-stamp-monthly-participation-data.
You have the power to use your tax refund in a powerful way. Support food banks in California by "checking off" an amount on your tax returns to be contributed to the Emergency Food for Families Fund. Regardless of your income or your refund, any amount will make a real difference. To learn more, visit www.checkoffca.org
Our mission is to work with a network of community partners to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community.