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All Californians should be able to afford food, yet many struggle to meet this basic need. CalFresh, or SNAP as it’s known federally, provides around 5 million Californians with low incomes monthly benefits to purchase food. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CalFresh benefits were increased with emergency allotments (EA) of federal funds. In January alone, over $521 million additional dollars went out across California to CalFresh recipients. For reference, the total CalFresh issuance was about $1.36 billion in the same month. Emergency allotments accounted for nearly 40% of that amount.

Increased safety net supports, in particular EA, played an important role in reducing child poverty across California in recent years. However, this additional funding came to an end in March, which reduced families’ monthly CalFresh assistance by at least $95, and up to $258 in some cases, amid rising food prices. Already, 1 in 4 families nationwide are reporting increased levels of food insufficiency, according to recent Census data. This figure is on par with states that ended their participation in the EA program before the benefits expired federally. The loss of these additional food benefits is expected to undermine the recent decline in child poverty. With the federal Farm Bill up for reauthorization this year, federal policymakers should  improve benefit adequacy in order to keep up the progress made in recent years. In addition, state leaders should take steps to raise the CalFresh monthly benefits and broaden eligibility to currently excluded Californians to avoid pushing millions of families over the hunger cliff.

Millions of Californians Receiving CalFresh Benefited from Emergency Allotments, January 2023

Congressional DistrictRepresentativePartyEstimated Average Number of Participants, 2022*CalFresh Participants as a Share of the District  PopulationEstimated EA CalFresh Benefits in January 2023**Rank (Highest to Lowest EA Benefit)
1Doug LaMalfaRepublican119,00015.5%$13,865,0005
2Jared HuffmanDemocratic76,0009.9%$8,949,00034
3Kevin KileyRepublican49,0006.3%$6,716,00048
4Mike ThompsonDemocratic66,0008.7%$8,074,00037
5Tom McClintockRepublican82,00010.6%$11,274,00025
6Ami BeraDemocratic116,00015.4%$11,492,00022
7Doris MatsuiDemocratic117,00015.4%$11,276,00024
8John GaramendiDemocratic89,00011.9%$7,090,00045
9Josh HarderDemocratic107,00013.9%$11,352,00023
10Mark DeSaulnierDemocratic37,0004.9%$6,234,00049
11Nancy PelosiDemocratic80,00011.3%$10,288,00027
12Barbara LeeDemocratic92,00012.5%$7,499,00041
13John DuarteRepublican146,00018.7%$14,458,0004
14Eric SwalwellDemocratic50,0006.7%$7,507,00040
15Kevin MullinDemocratic42,0005.7%$4,404,00052
16Anna EshooDemocratic33,0004.5%$4,755,00051
17Ro KhannaDemocratic35,0004.7%$5,374,00050
18Zoe LofgrenDemocratic89,00012.2%$6,794,00047
19Jimmy PanettaDemocratic50,0006.5%$7,012,00046
20Kevin McCarthyRepublican116,00015.1%$16,011,0003
21Jim CostaDemocratic199,00026.3%$16,958,0001
22David G. ValadaoRepublican188,00023.6%$16,318,0002
23Jay ObernolteRepublican150,00019.7%$11,905,0007
24Salud CarbajalDemocratic69,0009.1%$8,378,00036
25Raul RuizDemocratic149,00019.4%$12,351,0006
26Julia BrownleyDemocratic61,0008.1%$7,273,00042
27Mike GarciaRepublican117,00015.6%$11,639,0009
28Judy ChuDemocratic66,0008.9%$11,613,00011
29Tony CárdenasDemocratic121,00016.4%$11,593,00017
30Adam SchiffDemocratic101,00013.9%$11,608,00012
31Grace NapolitanoDemocratic100,00013.6%$11,593,00017
32Brad ShermanDemocratic69,0009.1%$11,595,00016
33Pete AguilarDemocratic126,00016.5%$11,724,0008
34Jimmy GomezDemocratic137,00018.2%$11,608,00012
35Norma TorresDemocratic95,00012.3%$11,635,00010
36Ted LieuDemocratic44,0006.0%$11,608,00012
37Sydney KamlagerDemocratic165,00021.9%$11,562,00020
38Linda SánchezDemocratic81,00010.9%$11,239,00026
39Mark TakanoDemocratic99,00013.0%$9,561,00029
40Young KimRepublican37,0004.9%$7,562,00039
41Ken CalvertRepublican71,0009.0%$9,629,00028
42Robert GarciaDemocratic121,00016.3%$11,593,00017
43Maxine WatersDemocratic166,00022.5%$11,562,00020
44Nanette BarragánDemocratic116,00015.4%$11,608,00012
45Michelle SteelRepublican84,00011.2%$7,665,00038
46Lou CorreaDemocratic103,00013.6%$7,171,00044
47Katie PorterDemocratic40,0005.3%$7,186,00043
48Darrell IssaRepublican68,0009.1%$9,244,00030
49Mike LevinDemocratic40,0005.3%$8,469,00035
50Scott PetersDemocratic51,0006.8%$9,077,00032
51Sara JacobsDemocratic87,00011.4%$9,065,00033
52Juan VargasDemocratic125,00016.5%$9,101,00031

* Figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Estimates do not sum to total due to rounding and excluded zip code data.

** Figures are rounded to the nearest 1,000. Estimates do not sum to total due to rounding and excluded zip code data.

Note: Values for California reflect the actual number of CalFresh participants from January to December 2022 and the total value of SNAP Emergency Allotment spent in January 2023. District-level estimates are based on zip code-level data for CalFresh recipients in December 2022. About 1% of zip code-level data are excluded due to hidden totals for de-identification purposes and special classifications of zip codes. Therefore, participation for some congressional districts may be underestimated. Data are for individuals receiving federal SNAP benefits and do not reflect individuals receiving state-funded assistance through the California Food Assistance Program.

Source: California Budget & Policy Center analysis of data from the Department of Social Services and US Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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