On May 15, a group of Feeding San Diego staff, activists, and volunteers rode a bus up to the capitol in Sacramento on May 16 to speak with San Diego’s eleven Assembly and Senate members about legislation around hunger.  Organized by the California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC), Hunger Action Day takes place each May, bringing together hundreds of advocates from across the state to support hunger-relief organizations that sponsor and support meaningful policy proposals in the state legislature.

Among those that made the trip this year were a community member involved with FSD’s Mobile Pantries in Guatay, Alpine and Descanso out in East County, a former CalFresh recipient and lead volunteer at FSD’s Altadena School Pantry and the pantry and distribution manager at FSD’s newest college partner, Mesa Community College.

After her group’s meeting with Assemblymember Todd Gloria, one attendee exclaimed, “He was so excited to see us. He told us, ‘Keep fighting the fight. Keep doing what you are doing so we know what we need to look at here [in Sacramento].’ It is so cool to know we are making a difference.”

Another trip participant spoke about her current struggle in making ends meet when programs [such as unemployment and CalFresh] seem to “treat you as guilty until proven innocent.” Currently between jobs, the reality of choosing between necessities is a real problem she faces day after day.  Hunger Action Day provided space for this advocate to share face-to-face with those in our state government and advocate for bills, like AB 2297, that will provide access to more CalFresh funds.

One of the unintended outcomes of this trip was the collaboration and comradery that spending two 8-hour days on a bus together produced. At dinner Tuesday night, representatives from Vista Community Clinic were excited over how they could work together with representatives from San Diego Hunger Coalition.

Our senior citizens from the Gary and Mary West Senior Center in downtown San Diego had amazing ideas of how FSD could work more closely with the seniors accessing the center and broaden our connection with this growing population of individuals facing food insecurity.

First-time attendee and Feeding San Diego’s own Distribution Network Engagement Manager, Lindsey Seegers, summed up the trip well by saying, “Sharing the ways we are fighting hunger among children and students alongside community members is amazing. But there is more work to be done!”