Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Take Action: Help Restore the Brown Bag Program for Seniors

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and other food banks throughout California receive state funds for the Brown Bag Program for seniors.

During the recent State budget process Governor Schwarzenegger's made the bold move of doing a line-item veto of the Brown Bag Program. Basically, he removed the program from the State budget!

In fiscal year 2008/09, our Brown Bag Program provided groceries to over 10,800 senior households. This amounted to over 10,400,800 pounds of food for the elderly. Many of these low-income seniors are struggling, and the Brown Bag Program provides their primary source of food. They are being forced to choose between spending their money on rent, utilities, prescription medications, or food. For them, purchasing enough food to survive is a daily challenge. The Brown Bag Program provides a critical service to ensure that people have the basic necessity of life: nutrition.

The Impact
Brown Bag recipients are primarily women receiving SSI/SSP who, through a string of budget deals, have just seen their stipends cut. Additionally, the Brown Bag Program provides critical funding to food banks. Approximately $20,000 per provider may not seem like much to make a program operate and grow, but it is critical to smaller food banks.

Return on Investment
The Brown Bag Program makes efficient use of state funds. Every dollar invested by the state provides to seniors approximately $40 in food and services from the local community. The program is currently funded at $541,000, which means the program leverages over $21 million in food and services for seniors, all of which will be lost if the Governor's veto stands.

Take a few easy steps to help restore the Brown Bag Program:
  • Download, fill out and fax this flyer (pdf) to all the Assembly members and Senators in your service area, as well as the Assembly and Senate leadership. Fax numbers for all legislators and the leadership are listed on the second page of the flyer.

  • Spread the word. Email the flyer to your coworkers, friends, and other people who will want to take action.

  • Update and fax this sample letter from your organization to legislative leaders asking them to restore the Brown Bag Program.

Photo: One of Second Harvest's long-time Mountain View Brown Bag volunteers