On October 18, 2020, a federal judge struck down a harmful final rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or CalFresh in California) for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). The final rule was published in December 2019 and was set to take effect on April 1, 2020 (but had its implementation temporarily paused due to COVID-19).
The final rule had the potential to restrict CalFresh benefits for almost 300,000 recipients throughout California, many of whom rely on public benefits to maintain basic necessities. Although the rule was set to take effect in April 2020, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction on the rule, and Congress suspended it through legislation, in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic fallout from COVID-19 is major and will continue past the end of the public health emergency, with a recent study showing that an additional 8 million people have fallen into poverty since May. of this year. Restricting essential food and nutrition assistance during a time when unemployment has soared and food banks have been inundated with requests would have had the potential to punish many more vulnerable people moving forward. The October ruling is a win for advocates and low-income people everywhere.
Please click here for a list of CalFresh office locations throughout Los Angeles County. You can also find LAHSA’s public comment in opposition to the rule change, approved by the LAHSA Commission in March 2019, here. If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Vethavanam, Legislative Affairs Analyst.