Fr. Alfred Center Supports AB 828: The Nutritional Assistance for Families ActMarch 29th, 2011
by Colleen Rivecca
The Father Alfred Center is St. Anthony’s free residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Last Thursday, the residents and staff of Fr. Alfred Center allowed me to come to their house meeting to speak about AB 828 (The Nutritional Assistance for Families Act). This legislation is sponsored by Oakland Assembly Member Sandre’ Swanson and is supported by anti-hunger organizations and advocates from across California.
Through this bill, California would “opt out” of the lifetime federal ban on CalFresh (the new name for California’s food stamp program) for people with prior low-level drug convictions. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have already restored nutrition benefits to this vulnerable population.
I used my visit to the Fr. Alfred Center house meeting as an opportunity to tell the program participants about AB 828. I told them that AB 828 is going to be heard by the Assembly Human Services Committee on Tuesday April 5, and the bill needs support from the community in order to make it through the legislative process. Today, I received the most wonderful gift that the St. Anthony’s Advocacy Coordinator could ever get: an interoffice envelope filled with hand-written support letters for AB 828 from our Fr. Alfred Center participants!
Next Tuesday, April 5, 2011, I will travel to Sacramento with four of our Fr. Alfred Center participants to tell the Assembly Human Services Committee that we support AB 828. While we’re there, we’ll hand-deliver all of the AB 828 support letters that we’ve received.
If you’d like to lend your voice of support for AB 828 and for the other anti-hunger bills being heard by the Assembly Human Services Committee on April 5, please visit our advocacy alert page, where we have an easy to use customizable letter that can be automatically emailed to the members of the committee.
Here is the text of the letter in the photograph:
I think it would be in the best interest of all that this bill be passed so that drug offenders can have a better chance to reform and make amends for past transgressions and it seems that putting road blocks in the way only leads to problems so please give people a chance and give them a way to step up.
Here are some quotes from the other letters I received:
“People like myself who strive for a new life, a new chance to become a contributing member of siciety, we all need a helping hand sometimes.”
“I believe that people trying to reintegrate into society should have assistance to facilitate reentry. I don not believe families should go hungry because of this outdated law! People should not be denied eligibility for past mistakes.”
“I was convicted 15 years ago for selling drugs… I’m on the right side of the law now, and trying to get my life in order. It’s hard times, and those food stamps would come handy in a time of need. And that time of need is now.”
“Ten years ago I was convicted of possessing drugs, and now I can’t receive food stamps. I have since changed my life and I am still being punished for my foolish actions of a decade ago. I have repaid my debt to society and would appreciate the chance to receive help when I need it. It would help me feed my daughter and be a responsible father.”