The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted systemic inequalities across a wide spectrum of societal issues, ranging from access to healthcare to home internet connectivity.[1] Communities received resources and aid at unprecedented levels from Federal and State programs in order to counter early predictions about potential disruptions to our supply chains and food security.

During testimony to the California State Senate’s Education Committee, Shafter High School athlete Ezekiel Osborne recounted his football team’s collective experience playing in their first-ever, State Championship Game. “So my dream night turned into one of the most disappointing times of my life, a game played in the middle of nowhere, neither team getting to play anything that resembled a football game in the ankle deep mud, no scouts came out to the tiny town to watch us in the terrible, unsafe conditions,” stated Ezekiel.

“We can’t continue this. It’s not sustainable for our community,” Coalinga City Councilman Adam Adkisson told CNN in November 2022 when drought forced his community to confront unprecedented water scarcity, and market forces all too ready to capitalize on that hardship. The city eventually paid $1.1 million dollars to a public irrigation district on the open market for an amount of water previously costing $114,000.

In numerous support letters to the California State Senate[1], fire districts across California expressed difficulty finding enough funding for critically important firefighter training. Between the costs of safety gear, coursework and training materials, the total costs per recruit ranges from close to $4000[2] to almost $5600[3], pricing out many interested applicants from entering the fire academy, which in turn affects the total number of firefighters serving across California.

During testimony to the California State Senate, cyber-security expert Dr. Tony Coulson outlined the concerns that California must contend with in order to protect its critical infrastructure sectors. “California needs the ability to coordinate effectively for cyber-attack responses. A cyber-attack is not just a possibility, but a probability, stated Dr. Coulson, outlining why the state needs to enhance it cyber-attack preparedness.

Sanger, California- In this interview, Melissa Hurtado serving in the California State Senate shares few takeaways from her experience so far. She knows firsthand the importance of food and agriculture, and has advocated for issues that often go unheard in rich countries –such as access to clean water, right to food and poverty, inequalities or health care in rural communities.

Bolstering the interest of youth

Water is life for us here in the Central Valley. It impacts every facet of our day-to-day lives, from our jobs to sustaining our daily needs. This summer, a few communities in my district ran dry. One town —Teviston—was without running water for a full month. The families there were unable to turn their taps on to cook, bathe their children or even flush the toilet.

Years ago, a high school friend of mine – a single mom living in fear due to her legal status – came to my door. “I don’t have formula to feed my baby,” she said.

That moment is still very vivid and painful in my memory. Here was my friend – living as I do in a state that feeds the world – at my door, desperate and in fear for her and her infant child.

Unfortunately, her story is not unique. It is a painful story that many immigrant and migrant communities have and continue to experience.