By 6:45 on a surprisingly chilly May morning in 2019, the St. Mary’s Center parking lot was already starting to fill up with people who were drowsy yet eager to get started on a long day of advocacy. A growing group huddled near the front steps of this Oakland community center, one of ACCFB’s partner agencies with a long history of vigorous policy and grassroots organizing work. Two volunteers passed around brown bags of breakfast burritos and cups of steaming coffee, and several attendees were busy rehearsing talking points for their upcoming meetings with elected officials before the group boarded the 50-seat vehicle and hit the road to Sacramento.
This year we’re gearing up for a whole Hunger Action WEEK and inviting YOU to take part in ACCFB’s most important advocacy and community organizing event of the year. This is your chance to speak with your own state senator and state assembly member, or a member of their staff. You will participate in inspiring events with your fellow community advocates from across the state, where folks will share their lived experiences and engage in creative activities.
Three years of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed Hunger Action Week online, and this year, major construction at the State Capitol has forced the statewide coalition organizing Hunger Action Week to make it a virtual event once again. While we miss being together in person and having face-to-face conversations with our elected officials, we are also grateful that virtual events such as these are more accessible to community members who can’t make the trip to Sacramento. Plus, this also allows the organizers to stretch out the activities into a full Hunger Action Week.
One thing hasn’t changed: our elected officials in Sacramento are relying on us to provide them with the community voices, stories of lived experience, and energy to push much-needed legislation across the finish line. Hunger Action Week is so critical because it is a unique exercise of community power – without which our mission of eradicating hunger would be impossible to achieve. All the data and fact sheets in the world, all the policy degrees and trained professional advocates, and all the editorials and op-eds would be powerless to create systemic change without pressure from tireless grassroots advocates willing to use their collective voice to hold government accountable.
Above: Hunger Action Week attendees meet with Senator Nancy Skinner in May 2022.
We’ve achieved many wins thanks to the exercise of this community power. Notably:
- In 2018, community advocates at Hunger Action Day were pivotal in ending “Cash Out,” an innocuous-sounding but deeply unjust policy that prevented SSI recipients – older adults and people living with disabilities whose benefits were already so small that they were insufficient to pay for rent in any California county – from being eligible for CalFresh.
- In 2021, Hunger Action Week immediately preceded our historic victory of achieving universally-free school meals statewide, making California one of the first states to make this permanent.
This year, we have more work to do. At Hunger Action Week, our priority will be advocating for legislation that responds to the end of the CalFresh Emergency Allotments, a critical lifeline throughout the pandemic, without which countless individuals and households will be pushed into poverty and hardship. In response, we will be fighting for funding California’s food banks, increased minimum CalFresh benefits, and access to nutritious meals for children during the summer months.
So, mark your calendars: Hunger Action Week is from May 15 through May 19. We need you to join us.
Sign up for Advocacy Action Alerts at accfb.org/advocacy to make sure you’re the first to find out about Hunger Action Week updates, and to receive the link to register to join us.
Our track record for advocacy victories after Hunger Action Week is a strong one. Will you be part of our next win?