TGI Supports Food for Parolees and Their Familes Print E-mail

Did you know that men and women convicted of a drug crime are banned for life from California's Nutrition Assistance Program, CalFresh (aka food stamps)? This is because of a 1996 federal law banning individuals with drug-related offenses from recieving food stamps and nutrition assitance.  Individuals convicted of any other kind of crime may receive CalFresh.  This lifetime ban not only limits the parolee's access to food, but impacts his or family as families must share their own CalFresh allotment with an additional person.

The federal ban was grounded in the concern than those with drug-related felonies would trade their food stamps for drugs.  However, Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards are now used to administer and monitor CalFresh benefits rather than via actual stamps.  The fear of trading food stamps for drugs is irrelevant.  Finally, the majority of paroled men and women and their families who receive nutrition assistance use it for just that - to feed themselves and their families.

This year Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson introduced, AB 828 - legislation that would allow California to opt out of the federal ban on nutrition assistance for those with drug convictions.  This would allow 14,500 paroled adults with drug-related offenses to be eligible for CalFresh.  Because CalFresh is a federally funded program, lifting this ban would bring $8.2 million into the state and increase revenue for local economies.  It is estimated that  every dollar spent on CalFresh would bring $1.74 in sales tax and grocery revenues to the state and local communities. More importantly, some of our state's poorest and most disenfranchized citizens would have access to food - a necessity for survival.

AB 828 is currently in "suspense" in the California Legislative commitee and will be reviewed again in August.  If the bill is not taken out of suspense and moved forward through the legislative process, it will "die in committee", a tragic refrain for such critical legislation. Spearheading the effort to move AB 828 forward is Ecatarina Burton, Advocacy and Education Associate for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Ms. Burton organized a Hunger Action Day in which over 300 people travled to Sacramento to encourage legislators to support anti-hunger legislation and lift the lifetime ban.  TGI's own Pastor William T. Grajeda has worked side-by-side with Ms. Burton, meeting with legislators and corralling local community members to write letters in support of AB 828.  It is their hope that, with the new Governor, AB 828 will be signed into law. It was vetoed by Governor Schwartzenegger in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia have overturned the lifetime ban and restored nutrition benefits to men and women with drug crimes. It's time for California to join this postive trend and make CalFresh available to everyone with limited financial and food resources.

For information about AB 828 visit:

AB 828 on Facebook

AB 828 in the News

Read the Legislation