Each year, the month of May is designated as CalFresh Awareness Month to raise awareness about California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and its vital benefits. This year, let’s take a fresh look at this program and break down its community impact, debunk some of the most common myths, and explore what you can do to promote CalFresh this month.
CalFresh Awareness Month: Spreading the Word About CalFresh
CalFresh Awareness Month aims to help eligible Californians access crucial food assistance. According to data from the California Department of Social Services, the program served 23,720 people in San Luis Obispo County alone in February 2023. State-wide, CalFresh plays a critical role in reducing food insecurity and promoting overall health for millions.
While CalFresh is already accomplishing a lot of good, many eligible Californians are still not accessing CalFresh benefits. This is why raising awareness about CalFresh is so important. By sharing accurate information and resources, we can help more families and individuals receive the support they need to lead healthier lives. CalFresh’s far-reaching benefits make significant positive impacts in California communities, including:
- Reducing food insecurity: CalFresh helps low-income families afford nutritious food through a monthly stipend and maintain a balanced diet. This not only reduces hunger but also has long-term health benefits.
- Boosting local economies: When recipients use their CalFresh benefits, they are also supporting local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other food retailers. This leads to increased economic activity and job creation.
- Improving health outcomes: With access to healthier food options, CalFresh participants often experience better health outcomes. Studies show that SNAP participants have lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related health issues.
- Supporting families during tough times: CalFresh benefits can be a lifeline for families facing job loss, medical emergencies, or other unexpected expenses. The program can provide much-needed assistance and help families regain self-sufficiency.
Popular CalFresh Myths, Debunked
Myth: You have to pay back your benefits once you no longer qualify.
Reality: You do NOT need to pay back your CalFresh benefits. The only instance in which you would need to pay back benefits is in the case of over-issuance, which is rare.
Myth: You cannot qualify for CalFresh if you own a home, a car, or property.
Reality: Owning a home, a car, or property does not disqualify you from receiving CalFresh benefits. CalFresh eligibility is generally determined based on income, not assets.
Myth: You need an address to apply for CalFresh.
Reality: You do NOT need a permanent address to qualify or apply for CalFresh. A mailing
address must be provided, but this can be General Delivery, a PO box, or a shelter address. Your CalFresh EBT card can also be picked up at any Department of Social Services office.
Myth: If I enroll in CalFresh, I am taking benefits from someone else who needs it more.
Reality: All who qualify for CalFresh receive benefits. Applying for CalFresh does NOT take benefits away from others.
Myth: You cannot enroll in multiple benefit assistance programs.
Reality: Being enrolled in programs like Social Security, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), WIC, or Medi-Cal does NOT disqualify you from receiving CalFresh. In fact, you are likely to qualify!
Myth: If a citizen or legal resident in my household applies for CalFresh this will negatively impact undocumented household members.
Reality: CalFresh is completely confidential, and the legal status of any household member is only used when determining eligibility and benefit amounts. Applying for CalFresh will not affect the status of anyone in your household nor will it affect their chances of receiving legal permanent residence
How To Get Involved in CalFresh Awareness Month
Now that you’re more knowledgeable about CalFresh, one of the best ways to participate in CalFresh Awareness Month is to share that information! Use social media or word of mouth to share accurate information about CalFresh and its benefits. Encourage friends and family to apply if they are eligible.
You can also promote CalFresh awareness in your community by:
- Contacting your local representatives: Encourage your local government representatives to support policies that improve access to CalFresh and promote food security in your community.
- Hosting an event: Organize a community event, such as a food drive, fundraiser, or nutrition workshop, to educate others about CalFresh and its benefits.
- Donating: Support local food banks like the SLO Food Bank and organizations that work to improve food security and assist CalFresh participants.
- Spread awareness on social media: Promote CalFresh and break down myths on social media. Follow SLO Food Bank on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up-to-date on CalFresh facts and share the organization’s posts to amplify their reach.
- Volunteering: Many local food banks and community organizations offer volunteer opportunities to help raise awareness and assist at CalFresh outreach and application assistance events.
By taking part in CalFresh Awareness Month, you can help create a healthier and more food-secure California for all. Together, we can dispel misconceptions about the program and celebrate the positive impact of CalFresh on families and communities across the state. This May, let’s spread the word about CalFresh, and make sure that no eligible Californian goes without the help they need to access nutritious food.
About the SLO Food Bank
We at the SLO Food Bank believe that everyone has the right to nutritious food. That’s why we work hard to ensure access to fresh food for everyone in our community. We structure our programs in a few different ways to make fresh produce more accessible and affordable for those who need it. We also promote food assistance programs like CalFresh, while hosting food distributions in the most rural areas of our county, where a grocery store may be more than 50 miles away.
With our network of community partners in San Luis Obispo, we strive to alleviate hunger and to build a healthier community. If you’re in the area, check out our Food Locator to find food sources near you, or support our cause through volunteer opportunities or donations, if you are able to give. With reliable access to wholesome food, we are all healthier, happier, and more productive members of our communities. Donate today to help us bring health and happiness to San Luis Obispo County!