Within its latest state budget, California is expanding its food assistance program to include undocumented residents who are 55 and older, becoming the first American state to help out low-income people, regardless of their immigration status, and funding will almost triple by 2026.
“California is once again making history by removing xenophobic exclusions to our state’s safety net,” says Betzabel Estudillo, senior advocate at Nourish California, a nonpartisan, statewide nonprofit. “This move towards equitable access to our food and nutrition state safety net will help reduce hunger and mitigate poverty.”
The 2022-2023 budget is granting $35.2 million to expand the California Food Assistance Program to accommodate undocumented residents who are 55 years old and over, and by the 2025-2026 budget, the funding will reach $113.4 million, helping some 75,000 people gain access to food. Health care coverage has also been expanded: immigration status will no longer be an obstacle for undocumented citizens who wish to receive health care. Therefore, all low-income residents, regardless of their immigration status and age, will have access to state-subsidized insurance. Unemployment benefits could soon be granted to undocumented workers who have either lost their job or saw their hours reduced as part of the Excluded Workers Pilot Program which would run from 2024 to 2026.