U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal held a Zoom call this week with Central Coast stakeholders to collect testimonies for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.
Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, was joined Monday by local nutrition policy experts from Santa Barbara County, CommUnify, UCSB, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Rep. Carbajal persuaded the White House to host the hunger conference, which was announced in May. According to the congressman’s office, it’s only the second such event in U.S. history and the first in 50 years.
The session hosted by Rep. Carbajal helped to inform a national strategy that will be announced at the White House conference in September.
Last year, Rep. Carbajal hosted a hunger tour across the Central Coast to highlight the pervasive food and nutrition needs of communities and the impact of food insecurity on young Californians.
“Thank you to everyone for joining me today. For the first time in 50 years and for only the second time ever, believe it or not, the White House is hosting a conference on hunger nutrition and health,” Rep. Carbajal told others on Monday’s Zoom call. “This will allow us to redouble our efforts toward eliminating hunger and food insecurity and develop a new national strategy on nutrition.”
During the call, Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, said the demand of food is at 150% of that before the pandemic. He added he doesn’t expect the need to decrease even when inflation declines.
“Obviously healthy food is one of the few things people can cut from their budgets,” Mr. Talkin said. “We are encouraging the federal government to keep focusing on as many food assistance food programs as possible.Money is always better than food if we can educate people to make intelligent decisions around the food that they purchase.
“The challenge is always the temptation to utilize those funds to buy really low quality food,” Mr. Talkin said.
Susan Liles, nutrition services director for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, stressed the need to quickly address access to affordable food.
“There is not a lot of data being shared between any of the USDA funded nutrition programs or any of the programs that are sitting at this table now,” she said.
In addition to this week’s Zoom call, Rep. Carbajal issued a statement Wednesday on the future of Diablo Canyon Power Plant. Located in Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, the nuclear plant was originally scheduled to close in 2025, but Gov. Gavin Newsom is considering a delay in the closure.
“There is too much at stake for us to move backward in the fight to make California fully powered by clean energy in the face of climate change, rising fossil fuel prices, and record heat waves and drought,” Rep. Carbajal said in his statement.
“But this isn’t just a matter of keeping the keys in the ignition at Diablo Canyon for a little bit longer,” he said. “There are key questions that must be directly addressed.
“If there is a plan to temporarily extend DCPP’s lifespan, Central Coast families must be shown a clear roadmap when it comes to Nuclear Regulatory Commission relicensing, as well as the NRC’s safety and environmental processes, and the plan for the additional nuclear waste that San Luis Obispo will be asked to keep in its backyard for more years to come,” he said. “Our community also deserves assurances that temporarily extending DCPP operations will not jeopardize other renewable energy projects in our region, including the first-in-the-West offshore wind project slated for lease sale this fall, or the proposed designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.
“And finally, as I made clear in April when this option was first suggested, decisions about the future of Diablo Canyon should not be made without consistent outreach and input from the community stakeholders who worked for years to facilitate the last consensus agreement — including PG&E, environmental stakeholders, nuclear safety advocates, and our partners in labor.
“Decisions about the temporary renewal and eventual sunset of DCPP should not be made solely in Sacramento any more than they should be made solely in Washington,” the congressman said.