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Statement from California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on the Federal Able Bodied Adults without Dependents Time Limit Rule

The California Health and Human Services Agency, along with the California Department of Social Services, opposes the new rule outlined today to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, because it could harm the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Californians by restricting access to critical food assistance. Food security is key to an individual’s ability to gain adequate employment, achieve and retain personal and family stability, and to enhance the health and well-being of children and families.

Limiting access to CalFresh food assistance does not support underemployed and unemployed people in finding work. Rather, hunger is a barrier to employment. Further, limiting access to food makes a family’s entire financial situation more precarious and increases the chances of falling into homelessness.

Women and people of color are more likely to be affected by unemployment and underemployment. The final rule does not adequately consider these societal disparities. Coupled with unsubstantiated claims that unemployed and underemployed people simply need encouragement to find work, the final rule fails to recognize or address the needs of the people affected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates these changes will reduce the SNAP budget by about $5.5 billion over five years. This estimate ignores the real cost of increasing hunger and health issues, as well as the impact on state economies, including the retail and agricultural industries. For every CalFresh food assistance dollar spent, the USDA estimates it generates $1.79 in related economic activity.

California is committed to improving nutrition and employment outcomes and will continue to support food, employment and training opportunities.

CalFresh recipients should know the changes in the federal policy have no immediate impact to CalFresh recipients, and do not take effect until April 1, 2020. We are carefully analyzing the changes and any long-term impact. In the meantime, please contact your local county social service office if you have any questions as to whether this may affect you in the future. You can connect to your local county social service office by calling 1-877-847-3663* or visiting to find your local office for in-person support.

*Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian. For speech and/or hearing assistance call 711 Relay