Community briefs, July 19, 2019


Mid-county groundwater plan released for comment

The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA) is recently released of a draft Sustainability Plan for the Mid-County groundwater basin, including the opening of a 60-day window for review and comment.

The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin is an essential source of water that is in a state of overdraft. Working with community members and experts, the MGA is developing a plan under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to restore the basin to sustainability by 2040.

The MGA encourages all community members to get involved. The Sustainability Plan will have long-term community implications and includes the following information:

• Detailed information about the Groundwater Basin including geology, hydrology, and political boundaries

• Detailed information about water use within the Basin

• Definition of sustainability for the following indicators:

  • Seawater Intrusion

  • Surface Water Depletion

• Groundwater in Storage

  • Groundwater Levels

  • Groundwater Quality

• Proposed programs and projects to reach sustainability

The draft Sustainability Plan was open for public comment on Thursday at the MGA Board meeting. Members of the public have 60 days to review the Plan and provide written comments. The plan will be available at midcountygroundwater.org along with a survey for stakeholders.

The MGA will host a series of community events regarding the draft Plan, including two open houses in July, a community Q&A in August and a public hearing in September so that residents may learn more about the Plan and its impacts on the future of local water supplies.

The MGA is a regional partnership between local agencies and the public to help ensure our groundwater remains a high-quality, reliable water supply today and into the future.

It is governed by a board with two agency representatives each from Central Water District, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, and Soquel Creek Water District and three private well representatives.

Second Harvest Food Bank receives grant from the Central California Alliance for Health

WATSONVILLE — Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County was recently awarded a $197,000 grant from the Central California Alliance for Health Healthy Food Access Program to expand food insecurity screening for Dignity Health Mobile Wellness Van, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital and Dientes Community Dental Beach Flats Clinic to screen patients for food insecurity using the Hunger Vital Sign™.

Patients who screen positive will receive a Nutrition Prescription to call the Second Harvest Community Food Hotline for a referral to a Passion For Produce or Food For Children program site and be prescreened for CalFresh eligibility. Patients can redeem their prescription at a program site to pick up their $50-75/value of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, receive a one-time $20 Grocery Outlet gift card and attend a nutrition class.

Poverty and food insecurity lead to poor health outcomes, especially obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. According to Feeding America, identification of food insecurity and referral to appropriate nutrition services can help to treat and prevent illness, support patients in chronic disease management and promote wellbeing. It is an inexpensive and non-invasive treatment with the fewest side effects for patients.

Second Harvest and its clinical partners will encourage participation in the Nutrition Prescription Program for those afraid of accessing safety net services due to their legal status or ashamed of the sigma food assistance with the message that Second Harvest provides safe and respectful nutrition services.

“With the high cost of housing, the political instability, and the high rate of poverty in Santa Cruz County, we believe it is more critical than ever to find creative ways of reaching new participants and ensuring that they have access to healthy food to thrive,” said Sarah Underwood, Senior Director of Health and Nutrition at Second Harvest. “This program will help us to do just that by leveraging our relationships with Dignity Health and Dientes Community Dental, who have agreed to hand out Nutrition Prescriptions to patients that screen positive for food insecurity. We couldn’t be more thrilled with their participation in this new program.”

The Alliance’s Partners for Healthy Food Access Program supports innovative partnerships between health care providers, community-based organizations and/or government agencies to decrease food insecurity in the Medi-Cal population in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced counties.

Congressman Panetta introduces legislation to provide asylum seekers judicial discretion

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) recently introduced the Providing Justice for Asylum Seekers Act, a piece of legislation that ends mandatory in absentia, while absent, removal orders for asylum seekers by providing immigration judges discretion in the use of such orders.

The measure provides meaningful due process protections for families and children seeking asylum in the United States.

Current law mandates immigration judges issue deportation orders for asylum-seeking individuals if they fail to appear in immigration court. This mandatory requirement applies even when the immigration judge knows there are extraordinary circumstances preventing the individual from appearing in court.

The Providing Justice for Asylum Seekers Act provides immigration judges with greater discretion about whether to order a noncitizen removed in absentia or, alternatively, reschedule the hearing based on the circumstances of the case. It also provides more flexibility for asylum-seeking children and families to reopen their cases if an immigration judge wrongly issues an in absentia order.

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