County Funding for L A s Healthy Food Vouchers May be Slashed in Half / Public News Service

A program to provide low-income people vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables may see its county funding cut in half at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting today in Los Angeles.

L.A. County has to decide how to spend the second round of funding from the American Rescue Plan, and it has proposed spending $1 million for next year, down from the $2 million it allocated for the current fiscal year.

Frank Tamborello, executive director of Hunger Action Los Angeles, said the cuts would be counterproductive.

“It would basically undo a lot of the work that we’re now being able to do with the first phase of the funding,” Tamborello explained. “Which is to expand in some more truly needy areas and to also expand the program from just farmers’ markets to regular grocery stores and corner stores and things like that.”

The current funding allows tens of thousands of low-income families in L.A. County to use the Market Match program, which gives people who rely on CalFresh a dollar-for-dollar match, good at hundreds of farmer’s markets and other farm-direct sites across the state.

Tamborello hopes the county keeps the funding at $2 million a year, as an investment in people’s health.

“The county departments have long known that there’s a big disparity in the ability of low-income people to get healthy food,” Tamborello pointed out. “Which leads to poor outcomes in the long term, such as more cancer, higher rates of diabetes, and so on.”

As families feel the pinch of high inflation, advocates are bracing for cuts in the CalFresh benefits expected later this year. Other groups are calling on the county to reject the cuts, including the American Heart Association, the California Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, and a group called United Parents and Students.

Disclosure: Hunger Action Los Angeles contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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