Jessica works for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.


16 Million Kids Experience the Indignity of Hunger in America

Speaker Ryan’s Proposal to Block The School Meal Program will Make that Worse!

By Jessica Bartholow 

This year, Congress has been considering the reauthorization of the Nation’s Child Nutrition programs.  With insight from the Congressional debate during the reauthorization of the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014, we knew this debate would be meager, not include the voices of families experiencing hunger and, in the end, fall far too short to offer a meaningful response to the crisis of millions of Americans, 16 Million of them children, experiencing hunger.

New Law Will Protect Low-Wage Earners from Debt Collectors

by Jessica Bartholow

The fight for fifteen is no longer just a slogan, or a hashtag. It is now the law in an increasing number of California cities and will soon be a checkbox on our ballots. And, in January, California will have the highest minimum wage in the nation. As the most prosperous state in the country, with one of the highest rates of income inequality, it is only right that we should.

Scheduling Ahead Can Keep Working Families from Falling Behind

Six out of every ten Californians with incomes below the poverty line (less than $25,000 for a family of four) live in a working family.

Working for low-wages not only leaves working families with not enough money to last the month, it also means they go without their basic needs met. According Shelved: How Wages and Working Conditions for California’s Food Retail Workers have Declined as the Industry has Thrived, authored by Saru Jayaraman of U.C. Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center and co-founder/co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and U.C. Davis Associate Professor of Community and Regional Development Chris Benner, many low-income workers in the retail industry and food retail industry were paid so little that they were unable to afford enough food to prevent hunger for them and their family.

Veteran’s Day Should Mean Something More

Jessica Bartholow

Next week, America will take a day to honor the commitment of men and women who have served our country.  In California, this day is significant because it is home to more returning veterans than any other state in the Nation.

But for too many veterans, the November 11th holiday is nothing more than a gateway to a stressful holiday season filled with cold months, high utility bills and empty plates.  I know this because my dad is a disabled Veteran who suffered for years with untreated and debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  We were never invited to a Veteran’s Day parade or a pancake breakfast, just left to find our own way, many times our basic needs going unmet.  

AB 2508: Calling Jobs Home

, will call back hundreds of jobs into California’s economy.

Current state law allows state public benefit contracts, including call-center contracts, to be awarded to contractors that perform the work outside of California, and even the United States. AB 2508 would prohibit state agencies that manage public benefit programs from contracting for call center services outside the state.