St. Anthony Foundation seeks to promote public policy that enhances our guests’ transitions to stability and promotes a society where all persons flourish. California Hunger Action Day is coming up on May 25, 2016, and hunger is one of St. Anthony’s four advocacy issue areas (the others are housing and homelessness, health care, and work and income).
St. Anthony’s sees significant demand for food assistance throughout our programs. Lack of adequate access to food has significant negative consequences, especially for people whose health is already compromised. Our state-level anti-hunger priorities this year include:
Addressing hunger and poverty among low-income seniors and people living with disabilities by increasing SSI grants.
Improving the CalFresh application process so that everyone who is eligible can receive assistance.
Expanding access to food assistance to immigrants, students, domestic violence survivors, and others.
Passing a fair state budget that addresses hunger and poverty.
On April 13, 2016, the Budget and Finance Sub Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will discuss an issue near and dear to the hearts of us here at St. Anthony’s: hunger and food insecurity in San Francisco.
Over the past 65 years, St. Anthony’s has served 40 million meals to San Franciscans struggling with hunger and food insecurity. The idea of “hunger” is familiar to most of us: the physical condition that results from not having enough to eat. “Food insecurity” is a term that has come in to popular use over the past decade, and it refers to the economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. So, what’s the difference? Think of it this way: hunger is often a consequence of food insecurity, but addressing food insecurity means not just helping someone eat a meal today, but helping them to ensure they know where their next healthy meal will be coming from tomorrow and in the future.
St. Anthony’s works every day with people who can’t vote because they’re not registered.
Why? The registration process itself can be intimidating and confusing – and many homeless guests worry that their lack of a permanent place to live means they can’t vote.
This election season we want to sign-up the entire St. Anthony’s community. We need your help.
Our volunteers will staff voter registration tables in the dining room: answering questions and signing people up to vote using online and paper applications. All volunteers benefit from a short, informative voter registration training that outlines the basics needed to get started.
The registration drive will run each Wednesday and Saturday during our peak hours of 10.30am to 12.30pm. The process is strictly non-partisan – we’re excited to register anyone and everyone who is eligible to vote!
If you’d like to get involved please sign up for our one-time training session by contacting Josh Messick at jmessick@StAnthonySF.org or registering at the link below.
Volunteers will attend a training and voter registration shifts will be scheduled afterwards.
The California legislature kicked off 2016 with the announcement of several initiatives focused on addressing homelessness and its consequences. Early in January, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León announced a plan to fund new housing for homeless people with mental illness, called “No Place Like Home“. Later that month, Senator Carol Liu introduced SB 876, a bill that would end police citations and arrests of homeless people for engaging in innocent actions like sitting, lying down, and sleeping in public space. These two approaches – the provision of housing and ending criminalization – are essential components to plans to successfully address homelessness in our communities.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress shows that on a single night in January 2015, California had the largest homeless population of any state in the nation. “Point in time” homeless count data show that 115,000 Californians were homeless on that date, representing 21% of the homeless population nationwide. California is home to 12% of the US population, so its homeless population is disproportionate to its size. The report also showed that California has the worst rate of unsheltered homelessness in the nation, with 63.7% of California’s homeless population (73,700 people) on the streets.
On December 3, we were honored to welcome the Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, to St. Anthony’s. Mayor Lee wanted to announce a new initiative from his office to deal with the problem of homelessness in the city.
As I told the group gathered when welcoming them, those of us who work daily with people who are homeless know that the greatest burden of their predicament is the isolation and exclusion they experience. So we were thankful that the Mayor was coming to the Tenderloin to make his announcement. Those of us who are committed to addressing this persistent issue also know that we should not see “the homeless” as the problem. Those who are homeless are our brothers and sisters. The problem is our problem as a community—a community with incalculable resources but one that cannot structure our economy, align our resources or redistribute our wealth in ways to benefit all.
In California, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), combined with the State Supplemental Payment (SSP), is a program funded jointly by the Federal and State governments to provide income support to seniors and people with disabilities. Current SSI/SSP grants for single Californians are $889 per month, only 90% of the Federal Poverty Level, and significantly less than the actual income level needed for self-sufficiency.
California cut $1.4 billion from the SSI/SSP grants of our state’s seniors and people with disabilities during the Great Recession. Food banks, food pantries, and free meal programs like St. Anthony’s Dining Room serve many seniors and people with disabilities who are unable to afford nutritious food. We have been working, alongside SSI/SSP recipients and organizations across California who want to help end poverty among seniors and people with disabilities, to convince California legislators and Governor Brown to reverse the cuts to SSI/SSP made during the recession. (See our petition to Governor Brown and the legislature, asking them to increase California’s contribution to SSI/SSP grants, and sign on if you haven’t yet.)
On Tuesday November 10, St. Anthony’s is co-sponsoring the “SSI Listening Session on Hunger and Poverty” at the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland. Nine California legislators from San Francisco and the East Bay have been invited to the event – not to speak, but to listen to the stories of their constituents who receive SSI/SSP. Our hope is that, as a result of hearing from SSI/SSP recipients about their struggles to survive on SSI/SSP, we will cultivate champions in the legislature who will stand up to ensure that California doesn’t pass one more budget that ignores the needs of seniors and people with disabilities who receive SSI/SSP.
Click here for more information about the November 10 event. If you can’t join us in person, please consider sharing your concerns about SSI/SSP on social media on November 10, using the hashtag #CA4SSI.