#MythbusterMonday - June 2017 Myths Busted

We begin each week using our online voice to debunk myths about hunger. Our #MythbusterMonday social media series dispels misinformation and stigma commonly associated with food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP and school meals and the people who rely on them to help put food on the table.  

What hunger myths have you heard? Join us in sharing the truth about hunger each Monday using the hashtag #MythbusterMonday.

In June we busted the following hunger myths:

June 5

The first Monday of the month we take a look back at the myths busted the previous month. Check out the myths we busted in May 2017 here

June 12

#MythbusterMonday “There are no hungry kids in my community.” False! Hunger exists in every community. Nationally, 1 in 6 youth are food insecure. In San Diego County it is 1 in 5. Click here to learn more myths about child hunger programs. 

June 19

#MythbusterMonday “Charities should feed people, not the government.” False! While charitable organizations like food banks, pantries and soup kitchens are on the front lines of fighting hunger they aren’t designed to feed entire communities. They were created to solve temporary emergency situations, not systematic problems. Click here and see #2 to learn more.  

June 26

#MythbusterMonday “Children must sign-up to receive free summer meals.” False! Summer meal sites are open sites which means they are open to the community and do not require that children sign up in advance or even ‘check-in’ at the site. Click here and see #2 under the "For Families" section to learn more. To find a free summer meal site near you text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877 or call 2-1-1.


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook and Twitter


HAN Lobbies for Anti-Hunger Policies in Sacramento while Hunger Free Activists Advocate from Home as Part of Digital Lobby Day

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network between meetings with San Diego representatives at the State Capitol.

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network between meetings with San Diego representatives at the State Capitol.

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN) led by our Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson descended on the state capitol on May 17 to support anti-hunger policies that impact families struggling to put food on the table in San Diego County. Joining Diane was Ashley Harrington, Manager of Public Affairs and Young Adult Initiatives at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Kelcey Ellis, Director of Programs at Feeding San Diego, Gabriela Arias, Resident Services Coordinator at Housing on Merit, and Nina Ghatan, Coordinator of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative at Community Health Improvement Partners. They shared their expertise with San Diego's representatives to demonstrate our region's problem with food insecurity and the positive impact anti-hunger legislation would have on hundreds of thousands of low-income San Diegans.

This year, HAN offered an innovative way for constituents who couldn’t travel to Sacramento to use their online voice to support statewide anti-hunger policies. HAN's Digital Lobby Day was the initial advocacy effort of the group’s Hunger Free Activist grassroots network. Leading up to Digital Lobby Day, Activists were sent information on how to contact their representative on social media as well as templates and memes to help create posts and tweets in support of HAN's priority state policies. The online support generated during Digital Lobby Day helped amplify and strengthen the presence of San Diego’s anti-hunger community.

While in Sacramento, HAN members met with Assemblymember Rocky Chavez and with the staffs of Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator Ben Hueso, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, and Assemblymember Shirley Weber. HAN’s discussions with representatives focused on the San Diego Hunger Coalition's latest food insecurity data and gaining support for the Network’s 2017 state priority policy initiatives:

  • SB 138 (McGuire) - Feed the Kids:  This legislation would automatically enroll low-income children on Medi-Cal in free school meals and calls upon very high poverty schools to offer free school meals to all students.
     
  • AB 214 (Weber) – College Hunger:  This legislation would address college student hunger by defining terms used in the CalFresh program to determine eligibility and clarifying the law concerning CalFresh Restaurant Meal Program on college campuses.
     
  • AB 1219 (Eggman) – Good Samaritan Food Donation Act:  This legislation clarifies and expands existing liability protections for organizations that provide, receive and distribute donated food to reduce waste and increase resources to feed more struggling San Diegans.
     
  • AB 164 (Arambula) – California Leads to Meet Food Needs:  This legislation would establish a new state funded anti-hunger CalFresh benefit to be issued using the EBT system during disasters such as drought and in the case of federal SNAP ineligibility.
     
  • AB 607 (Gloria) - Community Resiliency & Disaster Preparedness Act of 2017:  This legislation would protect against increased hunger and hardship among low-income families by requiring the CalFresh program to maximize replacement benefit options during a disaster or power-outage and provide additional budget in the case of a disaster declared by the Governor to improve the success of a federal request for disaster anti-hunger aid.

The following week on May 24, Diane was back in Sacramento representing HAN alongside more than 200 anti-hunger advocates from cities and communities across California as part of Hunger Action Day. This time she met with the staffs of Senator Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

As the food security safety net continues to come under threat at the federal level, it is more important than ever to strengthen our state’s support for policies and programs that help San Diegans have enough food for a healthy active life. Learn more and sign up to be a Hunger Free Activist here. By doing so you'll receive periodic opportunities to use your voice to advocate for anti-hunger legislation so you can tailor your level of engagement.

Oceanside kicks-off FREE Summer Meals & Feeds Hundreds of People With Two Community BBQs

Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery fills out a paper plate urging state representatives to adopt anti-hunger policies.

Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery fills out a paper plate urging state representatives to adopt anti-hunger policies.

Hunger doesn’t take a vacation when school meals aren’t available leaving many low-income children to go without regular meals when school lets out for the summer. Summer meals help fill this gap and keep children fed all year long. The City of Oceanside and Oceanside Unified School District kicked off their free summer meals program with two family-friendly barbecue events organized by the San Diego Hunger Coalition. Thanks to these events, which featured a resource fair and fun activities for the children, many families learned about the summer meal program for the first time.  More than 500 meals were distributed to low-income families at each event. 

The barbecues took place on Thursday, June 22nd at Balderrama Park and Thursday, June 29th at Libby Lake Park and were part of a collaborative effort to expand participation at existing out-of-school meal sites and launch new sites in the city funded by a grant written by the San Diego Hunger Coalition with the City of Oceanside resulting in a $20,000 award from the National League of Cities, Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS). A sponsorship from Mission Federal Credit Union helped to feed the parents and adult siblings of the children in attendance so that everyone could enjoy the grilled organic chicken as well as the fresh squash and corn from the Oceanside Unified School District's Nutrition Services garden. Additionally, Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank handed out bags of fresh produce for families to take home.

The event brought families together from different neighborhoods, many crossing through gang-territory to attend. The City of Oceanside has been working to reclaim the parks as spaces for community building in areas that have struggled with gang activity. The threat of violence at these spaces often keeps families from attending summer meal programs.

In addition to food and fun, the barbecues offered families the opportunity to make their voice heard and support anti-hunger policies. San Diego Hunger Coalition provided paper plates with questions about hunger including: “What would happen if your CalFresh benefits were cut?” and “What would you like your elected officials to know about hunger?” The Hunger Coalition collects these paper plate messages at summer meal sites and mails them to San Diego’s representatives to help advocate for federal and state anti-hunger policies that affect local families.

There are more than 220 FREE summer meal sites in San Diego County. To find a summer meal site near you text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877 or call 2-1-1. No registration or sign-up is required.

Hunger Coalition Leads Successful Advocacy Campaign to Preserve Breakfast in the Classroom for 1,000+ Lemon Grove Students

Our Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson leads an advocacy workshop with parents and community representatives in Lemon Grove.

Our Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson leads an advocacy workshop with parents and community representatives in Lemon Grove.

As the end of the 2017 school year approached, the Lemon Grove School District was evaluating whether to keep serving Breakfast in the Classroom or move back to the traditional model of serving it before the start of the school day. Our partner Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) reached out to us to help engage and train members of the community to advocate for keeping Breakfast in the Classroom as part of their community collaborative with Kaiser, the Lemon Grove HEAL Zone.

So why is protecting breakfast in the classroom important? In San Diego County, one in four children arrive to school without having started their day ready to learn supported by a nutritious meal. By serving breakfast in the classroom students can start their day enjoying a meal with their peers in an educational setting and their parents save time during their morning commutes by not having to drop off their children early before the first bell. Studies show that well-nourished children are better prepared for their academic success, are less tardy, visit the nurse’s office less, and cause fewer disruptions in the classroom.

Our School Meals Program Director Robin McNulty and Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson engaged with parents, students and community health partners and trained them to advocate for keeping breakfast in the classroom. They supplied these supporters with talking points and information on the benefits of Breakfast in the Classroom. They also helped them prepare to make public testimonies to the Lemon Grove School District Governance Board and practiced ways to best convey their commitment to their children.

On May 9th, our training paid-off and parents, students and community health advocates came to the Lemon Grove School District Governance Board Meeting to support Breakfast in the Classroom. Together we were successful in gaining the Governance Board’s approval to keep Breakfast in the Classroom for one more year!

Moving forward we will continue to work with CHIP and the Lemon Grove HEAL Zone to keep breakfast in the classroom. Our recommendations include working together with the teachers and the food service director in the school district who opposed the program to address their concerns and develop strategies to overcome barriers. Some ways this could be done is by convening a school breakfast task force to evaluate the long-term sustainability of Breakfast in the Classroom, identifying Board policy changes, and re-training teachers and students on how to document participation in the program. Additionally, identifying breakfast items students prefer and better District promotion of the benefits of Breakfast in the Classroom will help support this valuable program and feed more children in need.

San Diego Hunger Coalition Releases Latest Food Insecurity Data for San Diego County – 1 in 6 Don’t Have Enough to Eat.

The San Diego Hunger Coalition has released its 2015 San Diego County Food Insecurity Analysis, which estimates nearly half a million people (almost 1 in 6) don’t always have enough food for an active and healthy life. Of these people, more than 164,000 are children, which is a shocking 1 in 5.

The San Diego Hunger Coalition’s food insecurity analysis is based on 2014 and 2015 data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The survey is conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy Research, and food security is evaluated for households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. San Diego Hunger Coalition’s analysis represents the most current and accurate understanding of food insecurity rates in San Diego County.

While common myths associated with people who rely on federal food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, suggest that many benefitting from these programs do not work, the Hunger Coalition’s analysis found that more than half (55.8%) of food insecure adults have a job, and nearly half (48.5%) are living with a disability.  Other key findings were that approximately 40 percent of low-income adults and nearly half of low-income children are living in a food insecure household. The complete 2015 San Diego County Food Insecurity Data is available online here

Additionally, for the first-time San Diego’s anti-hunger community is also examining the population that responded to the CHIS survey as “food secure” but receiving CalFresh benefits. The Hunger Coalition estimates that more than 143,000 people (66,793 are children) who are below 200% of the poverty line are at risk of becoming food insecure if they lose their CalFresh/SNAP benefits. This could become a reality under President Trump’s recently released 2018 budget proposal which calls for $193 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next decade —25 percent of the federal program’s budget.

By regularly assessing our region's food insecurity landscape, San Diego County's anti-hunger community can identify data driven solutions to help connect our most vulnerable populations to the nutrition they need to thrive and be independent. Additionally, this data will be used to advocate for state and federal anti-hunger policies that help families in need put food on their tables. 
 

More than 150 San Diegans Live on a Food Budget of $4.18/Day to Raise Awareness About Hunger

Caption: UC San Diego students wear orange buttons to show they are taking the #CalFreshChallenge.

Caption: UC San Diego students wear orange buttons to show they are taking the #CalFreshChallenge.

Can you live on a food budget of $4.18/day? More than 150 San Diegans did between May 8 and 12 to raise awareness and money to fight hunger in our community as part of the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s annual #CalFreshChallenge. This year’s Challenge took place in May to coincide with CalFresh Awareness month.  Each year, the Hunger Coalition challenges people to live on the average CalFresh (also known as SNAP or food stamps) benefit per person which is now $4.18/day in San Diego County. Participants could take the Challenge for 1 day or a full 5 days.

 
 

Additionally, Challenge participants and community partners helped raise more than $6,700 throughout the month of May to support the CalFresh Task Force’s work to connect eligible people in need to the program. Top fundraisers were:

  • Top Staff Fundraiser – Dr. Heidi Gjertsen
  • Top Non-Staff Fundraisers – Vi Calvo, Dave Rice, Luke Vickrey
  • Top CalFresh Partner Fundraiser – Ana Echeverria Rubio and the HHSA Hunger Fighters
  • Top Community Partner Fundraiser – 10 Barrel Brewing Company

CalFresh provides temporary assistance in a person or family’s time of need. According to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, more than 285,000 people – nearly half of whom are children – are receiving CalFresh benefits. The average time households in San Diego County receive CalFresh is less than two years. 

With federal support and funding for SNAP uncertain under the current administration, joining the fight against hunger in our region is more important than ever and doesn’t end with the #CalFreshChallenge. Sign-up to become a Hunger Free Activist and receive periodic opportunities for you to use your voice to advocate for state and federal anti-hunger policies. Learn more and sign up here.

Thank you to everyone who took this year’s #CalFreshChallenge and came to our happy hour to our happy hour on May 25th!

CalFresh Task Force Aims to Connect Hard to Reach Populations: College Students and Immigrant Families in 2017 Priorities

Low-income college students and immigrant families are the two food insecure populations the San Diego Hunger Coalition's CalFresh Task Force's is focused on connecting to the program in 2017.

The current administration’s stance on immigration has created fear and confusion among low-income immigrant families causing many to forgo accessing food assistance. Partners shared that immigrants (mixed status households and legal permanent residents) have expressed more concerns about CalFresh negatively impacting their immigration status. Together with our partners we are working to provide immigrant families and the public with accurate information and resources while also collaborating on ways to adapt and evolve programming to meet the needs of this portion of our community. At the Task Force’s regional meeting in May the Hunger Coalition welcomed David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Itzel Guillen, Human Rights Organizer for Alliance San Diego who shared their expertise on the rights of immigrant families when it comes to accessing food assistance.

David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties presents on the rights of immigrant families and accessing food assistance at the May CalFresh Task Force regional meeting.

David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties presents on the rights of immigrant families and accessing food assistance at the May CalFresh Task Force regional meeting.

The Task Force's work with college students stems from recent state program updates clarifying and expanding college student CalFresh eligibility and from recent studies that indicate high prevalence of food insecurity among college students. A recent report from the University of Wisconsin shows that two thirds of community college students are food insecure.

The Task Force’s is also focused on improving the CalFresh application process. This year’s process priorities stem from challenges San Diego residents reported to local community partners while trying to access CalFresh benefits. These priorities aim to make the application process easier by improving two of the top three reasons why otherwise eligible applicants are denied benefits: the ability to complete the required CalFresh interview and the ability to easily submit necessary verification documents. After receiving in-depth feedback on these issues from the CalFresh Task Force partners, the Hunger Coalition is working closely with the San Diego County Health and Human Service Agency (HHSA) to identify opportunities to improve internal County processes to resolve the issues identified and further streamline the application process.

As the facilitator of the CalFresh Task Force, the Hunger Coalition will support work to outreach to college students and immigrant families by bringing organization representatives from these populations together with members of the Task Force and the County of San Diego HHSA to collaborate on ways to more effectively connect people in need to food assistance and to ensure these partners have a consistent understanding of eligibility regulations. By bringing external partners to the table with CalFresh application assistance agencies and County HHSA representatives, stronger partnerships with unique perspectives can develop. The Hunger Coalition provides support and expertise in external meetings to develop new or tailored strategies to meet the needs of specific populations. Once partnerships are established, organizations are invited to report back to the CalFresh Task Force regarding their progress, lessons learned and best practices.

At the end of the year, the Task Force will recap the progress made to provide direct application assistance to this year’s priority populations.

#MythbusterMonday - May 2017 Myths Busted

We begin each week using our online voice to debunk myths about hunger. Our #MythbusterMonday social media series dispels misinformation and stigma commonly associated with food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP and school meals and the people who rely on them to help put food on the table.  

What hunger myths have you heard? Join us in sharing the truth about hunger each Monday using #MythbusterMonday.

May was CalFresh Awareness Month so we dedicated each Monday to busting a myth related to CalFresh (also known as SNAP or Food Stamps) and the different people who depend on this program to get ahead in a time of need.

May 1

The first Monday of the month we take a look back at the myths busted the previous month. Check out the myths we busted in April 2017 here.

May 8

From May 8-12 we held our annual #CalFreshChallenge. Each year we challenge people who don't have to worry about having enough food to live on the average daily CalFresh/SNAP benefit per person in San Diego County which is now $4.18/day. We dedicated our social media posts this week to sharing about the #CalFreshChallenge and the valuable new appreciation gained from this lived experience. Click to see what people had to say about the #CalFreshChallenge on Facebook and Twitter

May 15

#MythbusterMonday "Homeless people aren't eligible for CalFresh/SNAP benefits because they don't have a permanent address." False! "You can qualify for benefits if you don't have an address or if you live at a shelter." Click here and see #1 to learn more.  

May 22
#MythbusterMonday "There is no hunger in the military." False! According to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger every Marine and Naval base in the county (and possibly the Army and Air Force too) allow charities to host regular food distributions on base to help struggling active duty military families. Click here and see #5 to learn more, then sign our petition to tell Congress hunger among military families is unacceptable! 

May 29

#MythbusterMonday "Being hungry is just part of the post-adolescent college experience." False! Hunger on campus is a real problem. According to Feeding America 1 in 10 of the adults they serve are students. CalFresh can help. Click here to learn more. 


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook and Twitter

2017 #CalFreshChallenge - Cassandra's Challenge Experience

Each year, the San Diego Hunger Coalition challenges people who don't have to worry about food to live off of the average CalFresh (also known as SNAP or food stamps) benefit per person in San Diego County. The 2017 #CalFreshChallenge took place May 8-12 and participants lived on a food budget of $4.18 for one day or $20.92 for five days. This year, many of the Hunger Coalition's anti-hunger partners that work to enroll eligible people in need in the CalFresh program took part in the Challenge. Cassandra Reese, a CIRS Enrollment Specialist at 2-1-1 San Diego shares her #CalFreshChallenge experience below. 2-1-1 San Diego serves as a nexus to bring the community (organizations) together to help people efficiently access appropriate services, and provide vital data and trend information for proactive community planning.


211_Cassandra_72dpi.jpg

Grocery list

  • Eggs (18) - $3
  • Dry Beans 1 lb $ 1.75
  • Cheese 1 lb $4
  • Sour cream $1.98
  • Cottage Cheese $2.98
  • Peach cups $1.88
  • Drink packs (10) $1.00
  • Margarine $1.00
  • Ritz crackers $1.98

Total 18.80

My Plan is to alternate between eggs and cottage cheese with fruit cups for breakfast. The Ritz came with four packs so this is my snack for the entire of week

I had planned to have backed potatoes with sour cream for dinner, but that won’t happen unless I can find a bag of potatoes for under $2 because that’s all I have left in the budget.

The red beans will be lunch for the week. I was going to put it in tortilla for bean and cheese burritos. So I’ll either chose between the potatoes or tortillas with the remaining budget.

Day 1  Upbeat & ready to go

  • Breakfast - 3 hard boiled eggs
  • Lunch - red beans w/ cheese slices
  • Snack - Ritz crackers
  • Dinner - will also be red beans
  • Drink  - 1 peach tea packet w/ water

Day 2 The hardest day

I was soooooooooo hungry!!! I didn’t plan my meals or snacks well enough to prevent or get through the hunger. I was so hungry that I ate through over half of the snack (crackers) that I had bought to last the entire week. It made me wonder if families in need also run into this dilemma and use up most of their CalFresh benefits or the food they bought for the month in the first few days/weeks and then struggle to have enough food to sustain them through the rest of the month.

After I shared with my coworkers my day one experience, including my grocery list and my remaining budget, a couple of them suggested that I go to the 99 Cent Only store.  Since, I only had $2.10 left in my overall budget I decided to go to see what they had available.

To my surprise the 99 Cent Only store not only had everything I had bought Day 1 at Walmart, but also for more than half the price. If I had only gone to this store first I would’ve been able to get DOUBLE the food and snacks to last me throughout the week. I would have also been able to get fruits, veggies, and more.  So with my remaining $2 I bought tortillas and an extra snack to last me the rest of the week.

Day 3 The Day of Temptations

Still hungry but not constant cravings like Day 2. Today’s challenge was temptations throughout the day. The first hour of work I was offered donuts and coffee. Then on my way to my break I was offered candy. At lunch, in the break room there were free sandwiches and the most beautiful looking spinach, cranberry, feta cheese salad with balsamic dressing. My resolved almost faltered after seeing the salad. Later,  a coworker decided to sit a bag of chips on my desk when I went to the printer. When I came back I took the bag of chips back to their desk.

After work, when I went to pick up my daughter my mom gave me a tray of pastries to take to my daughter's class the next day for teacher appreciation day.

TEMPTATIONS, TEMPTATIONS, AND MORE TEMPTATIONS

While preparing dinner I was presented with another moment of understanding. I started to make my dinner when I saw that I was running very low on all the food I’d bought. So I started to worry and ration the portions of how much I could eat and still have enough left for the last two days.

Day 4 Almost there

The home stretch is here and still hungry but not as much.

Day 5 FINISH LINE

I MADE IT……HOORAY!!!!!.........BUT still hungry!

I am happy and yet disheartened all at the same time. Happy because I was successful at completing the challenge and my awareness of hunger is more prevalent than it has ever been.  But disheartened because I know families on CalFresh don’t have the ability or option to go back to spending whatever they chose on meals and their struggle to provide food for their families is ongoing. The poverty and working poor gap is widening everyday while benefits are diminishing. Under the current administration, the state of these much needed benefits are hanging in the balance. I wish the San Diego Hunger Coalition much success and support in your daily efforts to bring about hunger awareness and funding for your MISSION TO END HUNGER.

#MythbusterMonday - April 2017 Myths Busted

We begin each week using our online voice to debunk myths about hunger. Our #MythbusterMonday social media series overturns misinformation and stigma commonly associated with food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP and school meals and the people who rely on them to help put food on the table.  

What hunger myths have you heard? Join us in sharing the truth about hunger each Monday using #MythbusterMonday.

In April we busted the following hunger myths:

April 10

#MythbusterMonday "SNAP recipients use their benefits to buy alcohol and cigarettes." False! These items cannot be purchased with SNAP. Click here to find out what items are eligible.

April 17

#MythbusterMonday “SNAP investments have no long-term payoffs.” False! Access to the Food Stamp Program at early ages—starting before birth in cases where the mother received food stamps during pregnancy, and continuing through age five—leads to many positive long-run health and economic outcomes. See fact #8 here

April 24 

#MythbusterMonday “People on SNAP sell their EBT cards for cash.” False! EBT cards were designed to prevent this. “With EBT, you can’t just sell the card -- you’d also have to give the buyer your PIN number. And you’d have to trust they were going to bring the card back to you” says economist Craig Gundersen who has researched food stamps for 20 + years. Click on the here to learn more. 


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook and Twitter - @SDHungerCo. 

We're a Proud Partner of the #MarchForScience!

The San Diego Hunger Coalition is proud to partner with the March for Science taking place nationwide and here in San Diego on April 22. We rely on science every day in our work to end hunger in our San Diego County through research and evidence-based programs and policy. Our region is home to nearly 500,000 people who are food insecure, meaning they don’t have enough to eat for an active, healthy life. Of these people, nearly 1/3 are children. Without science, we would not know which populations need food assistance, and what are the most effective ways to reach them.


Ways we use science to fight hunger

  • We use data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey to learn about poverty and federal nutrition program eligibility in San Diego County. Finding out how conditions are changing in our communities helps us to plan and advocate for the needs of people struggling to put food on the table.
     
  • We partnered with the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research to analyze their 2014 and 2015 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data to develop the most current and accurate food insecurity rates for San Diego County. In doing so, we can provide an in-depth look at the landscape of hunger and hunger relief services to better understand the types of food assistance available, current gaps and underutilized funding opportunities. 
     
  • We worked to integrate food insecurity screenings into healthcare settings in San Diego County by coordinating Rx for CalFresh pilots across six unique healthcare settings and developing a food security and healthcare curriculum in partnership with UC San Diego School of Medicine. Today, healthcare professionals are better equipped to screen for food insecurity and connect people to CalFresh (California’s version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as “food stamps”), one of our nation’s most effective anti-hunger programs.
     
  • We use data and research provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better understand food insecurity throughout the nation and the impacts of federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP and WIC.
     
  • We incorporate data in our advocacy work and meetings with policymakers at the state and federal levels to protect government assistance programs like CalFresh and School Meals. In 2016, our Hunger Advocacy Network secured success for key bills and budget asks to ensure that all people in San Diego have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. 
     
  • We use data from the California Department of Education to estimate participation rates in school meal programs at every school district in San Diego County. This lets us identify what’s working and innovative opportunities to feed more children like breakfast in the classroom.
     
  • We analyze data from the CalFresh program to find opportunities to support our CalFresh Task Force’s work to increase efficiency and effectiveness so all eligible people in need can enroll in the program.
     
  • We share data and learnings with our partners so they can more effectively fulfill their own missions and serve as many hungry people as possible.

We use science to measure our impact and identify places to course correct when needed. It allows our work to be efficient, grounded, fundable, and ultimately truly effective. Join us in supporting science on April 22 and register for the San Diego #MarchforScience here. Registering allows the march organizers to update the march logistics and programming as well as keep track of overall attendance and collect basic, useful information on who is attending so they can tell the story about this march when it is over.

Join the March for Science San Diego's Facebook event page to get the latest information and resources leading up to and after the march.

Unable to attend the #MarchonScience? Donate to support the costs for day-of-logistics, technology, outreach and operations for the march.  

To directly support the San Diego Hunger Coalition's work to end hunger in San Diego County donate here.

Save the Dates! Our CalFresh Challenge is right around the corner - May 8 - 12

Our analysis indicates that nearly 500,000 people in San Diego County do not have enough food for a healthy, active life. Our annual CalFresh Challenge helps raise awareness and money to end hunger in our community. For one day or up to 5 days, we encourage people who don’t have to worry about not having enough food to try living on a food stamps budget. In San Diego County, the average CalFresh budget for one person is $4.18 per day or $20.92 for 5 days.

How to participate:

1. Register for the Challenge
Let us know you’re participating by registering, even for the 1-day challenge! The more people who sign up, the more attention this cause will receive. Participants can take the CalFresh Challenge for 1 day or 5 days between Monday, May 8 and Friday, May 12. After registering, participants will be sent the challenge guidelines and tips for meal planning on an extremely limited budget. Register here.

2. Stick to the budget and share your experience
During the CalFresh Challenge, your entire grocery budget will be $4.18 for 1 day or $20.92 for 5 days including all meals, beverages and snacks. This is the average food stamps benefit per person in San Diego County. Participants are encouraged to share their experience on social media using #CalFreshChallenge. Review the Challenge guidelines.

3. Fundraise and win prizes
Make an even greater impact in the fight against hunger by raising money between May 1-15 to support the work of our CalFresh Task Force to make sure all eligible people in need are able to enroll in the program. This year, participants who raise $100 or more will receive a free San Diego Hunger Coalition tote bag – a small token of our appreciation for your support. Top fundraisers will receive prize packs of gifts from our generous community partners. Create your fundraising page.

4. Celebrate Your Accomplishment and Support a Good Cause!
Come mingle with staff, partners and friends of the San Diego Hunger Coalition and celebrate this year's CalFresh Challenge participants and top fundraisers at Benchmark Brewing Company (6190 Fairmount Ave. Suite G.) on Thursday, May 25th from 5:30-7:30 pmIn support of CalFresh Awareness Month, Benchmark Brewing Company is selling 16 oz. pours of their Table Beer for $4.18 every Sunday in May! The Table Beer will also be available at this special price during the happy hour on May 25th. 

Happy Hour at Benchmark Brewing Company
Thursday, May 25
5:30 - 7:30 pm

6190 Fairmount Ave. Suite G.
San Diego, CA 92120

You can read about last year’s challenge and hear from participants about living on an extremely low food budget on our CalFresh Challenge blog.

Hunger Advocacy Network Visits Members of Congress in D.C.

The Hunger Advocacy Network and our state-level advocacy partners spoke about protecting #CalFresh with Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staff.

The Hunger Advocacy Network and our state-level advocacy partners spoke about protecting #CalFresh with Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staff.

Members of our team traveled to our nation’s capital to support and protect CalFresh and School Meals in San Diego County at the federal level as part of the 2017 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference held from March 5-7. Our Director of Policy & Advocacy Diane Wilkinson led members of the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN) including Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank, along with our CalFresh team of Amanda Schultz Brochu and Marcia Garcia, in representing the San Diego region. The Hunger Coalition attends national conferences to connect with others in the field, learn innovative new approaches to their work, and best practices from other communities.

The annual conference provides opportunities for anti-hunger advocates across the nation to network with each other, build relationships with members of Congress, and attend informational sessions on topics ranging from using data to support storytelling to Breakfast-After-The-Bell Programs to immigration and public benefits to the effects of the economy and policy on food insecurity. On the conference’s Lobby Day, Diane and members of HAN met with San Diego’s members of Congress to discuss protecting nutrition and food assistance at the federal level to better serve our local work to end hunger. They met with Representative Scott Peters and his staff, as well as the staffs of Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Juan Vargas, Darrell Issa, and Susan Davis.

This year’s conference addressed the uncertain future of government assistance programs under a new administration. A major discussion point was the danger of block granting food assistance programs. Block grants would provide set funding amounts for these vital programs which can be detrimental in cases when there is an economic downturn or a natural disaster as this form of funding is prohibited from adjusting to cope with changing circumstances. Additional topics addressed were the need to protect the entire safety net (not just access to food), the importance of school meals in the future success of students, and how to work across the aisle to preserve programs that keep Americans fed.

The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference was co-sponsored by Feeding America and the Food Research & Action Center in cooperation with the National CACFP Forum.

You can view some of our team’s favorite moments and other conference attendee experiences at this year’s National Ant-Hunger Policy Conference by searching the hashtag #hungerpc17 on social media.

Hunger Coalition writes grant with City of Oceanside to expand Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs

Oceanside children will soon have access to more food after school and during the summer thanks to a $20,000 grant awarded to the City of Oceanside by the National League of Cities.

Oceanside children will soon have access to more food after school and during the summer thanks to a $20,000 grant awarded to the City of Oceanside by the National League of Cities.

Oceanside will soon be able to better address child hunger thanks to a $20,000 grant from the National League of Cities. With the CHAMPS grant funding, the Hunger Coalition will partner with the City of Oceanside and Oceanside Unified School District to raise awareness about child hunger and increase participation in the city’s existing out-of-school meal programs, and launch new afterschool and summer meal sites. Thanks to the Coast News for their coverage of this initiative 

The Hunger Coalition will serve as the project manager for the CHAMPS grant and will work closely with the City of Oceanside on the development, implementation and monitoring of progress for this initiative.

An important part of this work will be convening summer meal sites and sponsors to be part of the North County Youth Meals Task Force. This group will work to strengthen relationships and business processes with the City, the school district, school nutrition offices, day care centers and preschools, local government health and human services agencies, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, and low-income housing complexes to increase the number of summer meal sites and participation and programming at existing sites. The first meeting of the North County Youth Meals Task Force will be held at the end of April. All North County summer meal sites and sponsors are invited to attend.

North County is often categorized as a wealthy community, but many areas exceed the County’s poverty rate of 13.89%. Oceanside has an overall poverty rate of 14.2% (1 in 7 people below poverty level), but has many neighborhoods where the rate is higher than 20% (1 in 5 people below poverty). Oceanside aligns with current statewide food insecurity rates, whereas 1 in 4 children do not have enough to eat, and 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap.

More information on the Hunger Coalition’s work to expand access to youth meals across San Diego County can be found here.

San Diego Hunger Coalition’s 2017 San Diego Summer Meals Task Force began meeting in March. They meet every month through September. For more information about the San Diego or North County meetings, please contact Robin McNulty at robin@sdhunger.org

Amanda presents on Hunger & Healthcare at Statewide Conference

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending pediatricians screen all children for food insecurity.

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending pediatricians screen all children for food insecurity.

Experts in the healthcare field are now better prepared to screen for food insecurity in their settings thanks to a presentation made by our CalFresh Outreach Director Amanda Schultz Brochu at this year’s California Food Policy Advocate’s CalFresh Forum.

The annual forum brings together hundreds of key stakeholders from across the state to identify opportunities and discuss strategies to improve the reach of CalFresh.

Amanda was a panelist with other public health and hunger experts presenting on models from their communities for identifying food-insecure patients in healthcare settings and connecting them to CalFresh and other food assistance programs. She presented on the San Diego Hunger Coalition's 2014-2016 work to integrate food insecurity screenings into healthcare settings in San Diego County, which included coordinating Rx for CalFresh pilots across six unique healthcare settings and developing a food security and healthcare curriculum in partnership with the UC San Diego School of Medicine. This work was the basis for our groundbreaking report Launching Rx for CalFresh in San Diego County: Integrating Food Security into Healthcare Settings.

Most of the San Diego pilots utilized the two-question screener developed by the USDA which has been scientifically validated to accurately identify individuals who are currently experiencing food insecurity. In a sample of 30,000 patients, the two-question screener identified 97% of food insecurity cases.  Patients at participating healthcare providers were asked to answer “often true,” sometimes true,” or “never true,” over the last twelve months if:

1.    We worried whether our food would run out before we got the money to buy more.

2.    The food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.

The San Diego pilots also helped identify the best options for enrolling patients in CalFresh ranging from referring patients to a local nonprofit providing application assistance, which can be a challenge for patients if the organization is not located within close proximity to where a client lives or works, to on-demand on-site assistance which has the best enrollment results but requires a full-time application assister. Clinics and hospitals that provide their own CalFresh application assistance often pair this with their existing Medi-Cal assistance program. 

An important part of Amanda’s presentation were the lessons learned from our Rx for CalFresh pilots. These included training medical staff on the connection between food security and health outcomes, as well as how to pose what can be very sensitive questions. Integrating screenings into Electronic Health Records was also found to be key in evaluating the process and outcomes and creating replicable templates that make it easier for more healthcare settings to use. 

Each panelist stressed the importance of being results driven and creating measurable action in order to get funding and effect policy as well as  using a collective impact approach to share learnings and metrics with others in the hunger, poverty and healthcare fields.

As a result of Amanda’s presentation, Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County has already reached out to a healthcare system in their area to explore integrating food security resources.

Congrats to Marcia & all of this year’s “Freshy” Award Nominees!

San Diego Hunger Coalition CalFresh Outreach Coordinator Marcia Garcia

San Diego Hunger Coalition CalFresh Outreach Coordinator Marcia Garcia

At this year’s California Food Policy Advocate’s CalFresh Forum, our very own CalFresh Outreach Coordinator Marcia Garcia was part of prestigious group recognized for their outreach to expand and improve the CalFresh program in their communities. She was among the leaders nominated for the conference’s “Freshy” awards in the category of Innovative Outreach Leader of the Year. Partners are encouraged to nominate and vote for each other. The awards also recognize outstanding program administrators, grassroots mobilizers, and improvements in CalFresh utilization rates by individual counties.

Marcia has worked with the San Diego Hunger Coalition to increase access to CalFresh for the past two years. During that time, she has demonstrated herself to be a leader in providing technical assistance and guidance to both clients and partners in navigating the complex CalFresh regulations and eligibility guidelines. She has served as a facilitator for Benchmark Institute’s FAST training and has developed countless outreach materials to spread the word about important program changes affecting San Diego County. Marcia regularly goes the extra mile to make applying for CalFresh easier. Her commitment to the CalFresh community and those served by the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s work can be heard every day as she brings levity to challenging conversations.

Marcia was among 10 experts nominated for the Innovative Outreach Leader of the Year. Also amongst those nominated was San Diego’s Juliana Vega, CalFresh Outreach Coordinator at our partner the San Diego Food Bank. The Freshy was awarded to Elizabeth Gomez, Associate Director of Client Services for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. While there could only be one winner this year, we are so proud Marcia was recognized for her great work to end hunger in San Diego County. The communities of all of the nominees benefit directly from their contributions.

Rep. Susan Davis re-introduces Military Hunger Prevention Act to Congress

Rep. Susan Davis meets with a constituent at an anti-hunger event. 

Rep. Susan Davis meets with a constituent at an anti-hunger event. 

Military families face unique barriers to food assistance. They receive a basic allowance for housing which is determined by where they are stationed, among other factors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the modern version of food stamps known as CalFresh in California) and sets eligibility requirements considers this allowance part of their income. The IRS and several federal assistance programs do not consider military housing allowances as income. This red tape and confusion around what consists as income leaves tens of thousands of San Diego’s military families struggling to put food on the table because they are not eligible for CalFresh.

Last month Representative Susan Davis (D-San Diego) re-introduced the Military Hunger Prevent Act (H.R.1048) to Congress to make accessing food assistance easier for service members and their families. This bill would prevent military housing allowances from being used to determine eligibility for SNAP. Rep. Davis was joined by Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Don Young (R-AK), and Tim Walz (D-MN) as cosponsors of the legislation.

A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Davis stated in a press release, “Those who make great personal sacrifices in service to our country should not have to struggle to provide regular, nutritious meals for their families. Unfortunately, an unintended policy barrier prevents military families struggling with food insecurity from getting help from available federal nutrition assistance programs. This is a simple, common sense solution to ensuring that we properly care for our men and women in uniform and their families.”

According to Feeding America’s 2014 Hunger in America report, one in five of the households served by their networks has at least one member that has ever served in the military. Making it easier for military members to access CalFresh provides a reliable source for nutritious food and a greater sense of dignity by allowing enrolled families to shop for food at grocery stories instead of standing in line at emergency food service providers such as food banks or charity pantries on or near their military base.

The San Diego Hunger Coalition endorses the Military Prevention Act and the Hunger Advocacy Network will be tracking this bill this year. We’ll keep you updated on its progress. You can do your part to remove this barrier to food assistance for military families by making your voice heard. Sign our petition to tell Congress military families facing hunger is unacceptable! Sign the petition here.

#MythbusterMonday - March 2017 Myths Busted

We begin each week using our online voice to debunk myths about hunger. Our #MythbusterMonday social media series overturns misinformation and stigma commonly associated with food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP and school meals and the people who rely on them to help put food on the table.  

What hunger myths have you heard? Join us in sharing the truth about hunger each Monday using #MythbusterMonday.

In March we busted the following hunger myths:

March 6

#MythbusterMonday "No one can be hungry AND overweight.” False! People living in poverty can’t afford enough food and what they can afford – or what is available in their community – is often unhealthy and processed. See #4.

March 13

#MythbusterMonday "People don’t have enough food because they’re not working.” False! In San Diego County 53% of food insecure adults are employed, with nearly 43% working full-time (defined as 21+ hours/week) Learn more.

March 20

#MythbusterMonday "People receiving emergency food assistance need help because they have too many kids.” False! Most families seeking food assistance consist of 2-3 people, a mom and 1-2 of her kids. Only 3% of households on food assistance have more than 6 members. See #3

March 27

#MythbusterMonday “Federal child nutrition programs & CalFresh drain the system.” False! Youth who have access to food assistance in early childhood have better health outcomes as adults and are more likely be successful in school and employment.


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook and Twitter - @SDHungerCo. 

CalFresh Alumni Project - Tekara's Story

Our CalFresh Alumni project champions successful Americans who once received CalFresh/SNAP (food stamps) but who are now independent, contributing members of our community, as well as individuals who currently rely on the program during a time of need.  With a temporary lift from this government program that continues to help feed millions of Americans every day, these people are persevering and accomplishing great things. They make San Diego stronger every day.  Read their stories; tell us yours.

Meet Tekara Gainey. Tekara works in community engagement and public affairs for a San Diego nonprofit organization. Tekara shares her experience as a CalFresh/SNAP recipient and how it supported her journey to become the successful, independent woman she is today.

Tekara Gainey

Tekara Gainey


At what point in your life did you receive CalFresh/SNAP (food stamps) and why?

I’ve received SNAP at various junctures throughout my life. My earliest memory of SNAP is as a young kid growing up in a single-family household. I later relied on SNAP when I was putting myself through college, both in pursuit of my Bachelors as well as my Masters degrees.

How long were you on CalFresh/SNAP?

In total, I was on CalFresh/SNAP for 7 years.

How did CalFresh/SNAP help you in your time of need?

My mother was working full time and we relied on SNAP to help put food on our table. This was back when SNAP was issued as vouchers. I remember going to the corner store and using our vouchers to purchase basic food items like milk, eggs, and bread. As a student, SNAP helped to alleviate some of the burden associated with working, attending school and paying bills.

How did receiving food assistance make you feel?

Relieved. I was already under an immense amount of stress working and going to school full time, barely able to afford rent, transportation, books, phone bill…the list goes on. Knowing that my capability of putting good, healthy food on the table was not compromised offered a lot of relief. I didn’t have to choose between eating lunch or eating dinner. I could do both. It was one less thing, on a list of many things, I had to worry about.

What are some common misconceptions you have heard people use about CalFresh/SNAP?

I've heard many people claim CalFresh/SNAP is only available to families (adults with young children), persons who are unemployed or homeless individuals. I’ve also heard people say CalFresh/SNAP couldn’t or shouldn’t be used at well-known grocery stores such as Trader Joes or Whole Foods. When speaking about people receiving CalFresh/SNAP, I’ve heard people claim recipients are abusing the system, lack the drive and will to get off SNAP, and are underserving of nice things (i.e., bags, shoes, clothes, etc.). An acquaintance once told me she was surprised to learn I was receiving SNAP benefits because I seemed so “put together”. I guess I wasn’t supposed to comb my hair that day!

What are you most proud of in your life? Or what are your dreams for the future?

I am proud of the life I’ve created for myself. I live in a beautiful city, have a wonderful, supportive, and strong groups of friends and family, and I am doing work that I am passionate about and that is making an impact.  

What do you want people to know about food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP?

Food assistance programs like CalFresh/SNAP give people control over their lives and choices. During my time of need, prior to receiving food assistance, my choices were often made for me, based on my circumstances. Deciding whether I should spend $50 to purchase a work uniform or put aside money for lunch for the week was a no-brainer. If I wanted a job, I needed the uniform. Going 8-10 hours without eating because I couldn’t afford breakfast AND lunch was not my choice, but rather my circumstance. CalFresh/SNAP made me the ultimate decision maker again, just as it does with others.


Our CalFresh Alumni Project features individuals who have used CalFresh in the past or are currently enrolled in the program and using it as temporary assistance to get ahead during a time of need. CalFresh is California's version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and is our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program. By telling the stories of those who have benefited from SNAP/CalFresh, we can more effectively raise awareness and advocate to maintain this vital program.

If you would like to take part in our CalFresh Alumni Project and share your experience with CalFresh/SNAP, contact Liz Faris at liz@sdhunger.org or 619-501-7917 ext. 106. Your story will be shared on our blog, in our newsletter, on our social media sites, and in communications with elected officials who have the power to preserve this important program. If you prefer, you may remain anonymous. Your story will still have a big impact!