I am mindful that as I observe Friday as the final day of my annual hunger challenge, millions of Californians will continue to struggle through uncertain times in the days, weeks, and months ahead. CalFresh is a fundamental safety net program whose Depression-era roots underlie what I believe to be a remaining core function of government--to provide temporary assistance to those who find themselves without basic needs and incentivize self-sufficiency.
I recall decades ago, when my brother, a chemical engineer employed in the aeronautical industry in Los Angeles, was laid-off when unexpected reductions in government contracts threw him out-of-work. He had always been the primary breadwinner, with his wife working part-time in a clerical position raising three small children. He was a proud man, and one I might note now that did not necessarily share my views about those less fortunate in our communities. Very reluctantly, and with the urging of his wife, the family enrolled in what was then called "Food Stamp Program". The benefits kept food on their table and eventually changed his perspective about "welfare". Fortunately, within a period of two years, he was re-employed and went on to earn several patents for his work. I share this story in his memory, as he passed away just a few months after he supported me in winning my seat in the Assembly.
To all those who have joined me this week, I thank and applaud you, including members of my District Office staff--Cat Nou, Don Lowrie, and Andrew Benware (they were not REQUIRED to do so!). To stay true to the Hunger Challenge during one of the more difficult weeks of our legislative session requires determination, discipline, and dedication. For the naysayers, I challenge you to try it--even for one day. Solano County ranks 11th and Yolo County ranks 50th out of 58 counties in CalFresh participation. For those, like my brother, who did not ever believe they would need assistance, I encourage you to find out if you are eligible for this 100% federal benefit, and to give back by supporting your local Food Bank. Visit this website and sign up today: http://www.benefitscal.org/