SLO Food Bank Supports CalFresh Awareness Month to Alleviate Hunger in SLO County

San Luis Obispo County, CACalFresh Awareness Month is just around the corner, and the SLO Food Bank is gearing up for a month-long campaign throughout May to raise awareness about this incredibly impactful program. The CalFresh Program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a nutrition assistance program that provides eligible individuals and families with monthly financial assistance to purchase healthy food at grocery stores and some farmers’ markets. SLO Food Bank honors this month by promoting CalFresh in partnership with media partners, debunking myths through social channels, and hosting enrollment assistance sites across the county.

In San Luis Obispo County, the SLO Food Bank along with the CalFresh Alliance and other stakeholders like the SLO County Departments of Public Health and Social Services as well as the University of California Cooperative Extension, have been working hard to increase CalFresh enrollment rates, and their efforts are paying off. Currently, CalFresh is utilized by 23,720 people to buy healthy and nutritious food in San Luis Obispo County. According to the CDSS CalFresh Data Dashboard Monthly Participation, CalFresh enrollment in SLO County has increased by 20% from February 2022 to February 2023. This is a significant achievement, and the SLO Food Bank is proud to be part of the effort to provide nutritious food to those who need it most.

“The SLO Food Bank is steadfast in our role as a strong advocate and partner for maximizing local participation in CalFresh. Greater participation in CalFresh is a win-win for our community: this program provides vital funding to help alleviate hunger and it brings designated federal funds to local businesses,” said SLO Food Bank CEO Garret Olson. “CalFresh Awareness Month is an important opportunity to educate, encourage, and support all who face food insecurity to receive the help they need and deserve. It’s difficult to thrive on an empty stomach.”

CalFresh Assistance Sites

To further increase CalFresh enrollment and close out CalFresh Awareness Month, the SLO Food Bank has organized application assistance sites across the county, in conjunction with Hunger Awareness Day on June 2nd, 2023. At these sites, individuals will receive one-on-one assistance in applying for CalFresh benefits with the help of local hunger heroes from the Department of Social Services and SLO Food Bank volunteers. The assistance sites will be held at the Atascadero Public Library, Morro Bay Public Library, SLO Public Library, Nipomo Public Library, and Arroyo Grande Public Library. No appointment is necessary, and individuals can drop in between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM, except for the Arroyo Grande Public Library, which will be open from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

To start the application process, individuals must provide a form of identification, proof of income, and social security or legal resident identification. The immigration status of any person applying for CalFresh is confidential and is only used to determine eligibility for benefits in their household.

“We want to make it easier for clients to apply for CalFresh and eliminate any barriers they may face like access to a computer, or a scanner,” said Venessa Rodriguez, CalFresh Outreach Manager “Our amazing hunger heroes are here to help answer any questions about CalFresh and make sure neighbors are getting the support they need.”

About CalFresh

The SLO Food Bank reminds the community that CalFresh is a vital hunger relief program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered in the region by the County of San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services (DSS). The local gap in CalFresh enrollment impacts community-wide access to local food, resulting in lost economic activity in San Luis Obispo County. Every dollar spent on CalFresh generates $1.50 in economic activity, and programs like Market Match incentivize the purchase of locally grown produce while making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable to community members on a limited income. CalFresh not only positively impacts our economy, but it allows recipients to have the ability to shop for the foods they need or prefer in the quantities that work best for them and their families.

For more information on CalFresh and how to apply, visit GetCalFresh.org/s/slofoodbank or call 1-877-847-3663. Let’s work together to ensure that everyone in San Luis Obispo County has access to healthy, nutritious food.

About SLO Food Bank

The SLO Food Bank’s mission is to work with a network of community partners to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community. In 2022, the SLO Food Bank served over 31,500 individuals on average per month through its Public Neighborhood distributions, a network of over 80 nonprofit Agency Partners, its Senior Home Delivery Program, and children and senior farmer’s markets. Additionally, food rescue programs of the SLO Food Bank, including GleanSLO, prevented over a million pounds of food from being wasted and instead nourished neighbors in need. All of this is made possible by volunteers’ time and donors’ support. To learn more about resources offered by the SLO Food Bank or ways to get involved, please visit www.slofoodbank.org.