Meet Sherry Guia. Sherry relied on CalFresh when she was pregnant and pursuing a degree at San Diego State University. Her support system was lacking, her employer was demanding, and her work schedule was not compatible with her school schedule. CalFresh allowed her to focus on her education, pregnancy, and work, without having the stress of being able to afford a healthy diet. In May, Sherry completed her Bachelor’s degree in public health. Today, she is working as a Wellness Specialist at the University of California, San Diego-Center for Community Health.
At what point in your life did you receive CalFresh/SNAP (food stamps) and why?
I decided to apply for CalFresh in September of 2014, when I found out that I pregnant. I was in my fourth year at San Diego State University and my support system was severely lacking. I had recently resigned from a job because it was costing me more to travel back and forth to it than what I was getting paid, and my employer wanted me to attend school when it was convenient for his schedule.
How long were you/have you been on CalFresh?
I was on CalFresh for a total of two and a half years.
How did CalFresh/SNAP help you in your time of need?
This time of my life was difficult. I took a semester off from school and had to find new employment. This did not affect my CalFresh benefits because my income was not substantial and barely covered my rent, and other bills. I did return to school the next semester to finish off the academic year. CalFresh allowed me to focus on my education, pregnancy, and work, without having the stress of being able to afford a healthy diet.
How did receiving food assistance make you feel?
I felt relieved. I was under a lot of pressure being pregnant, a full-time student, and working 30+ hours a week. Knowing that on CalFresh I could eat healthy food for myself and the growing life inside of me gave me peace of mind and allowed me to better focus on my studies.
How would you make ends meet without CalFresh?
If it weren’t for CalFresh, I would have had to take out multiple loans. I might have stopped going to school and picked up a full-time job to try and make ends meet for myself and my son.
Did you use any food assistance programs in addition to CalFresh (i.e. pantries, meal delivery services, etc.)?
I did receive WIC for myself when I was pregnant and up until my son was one year old.
What are you most proud of in your life? Or what are your dreams for the future?
I am proud of the life that I have been able to create for myself. I am grateful that I have graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and that I am currently working in a field where I help members of my community to better their lives. I want to show my son you can achieve what you want in life, even if you need help along the way.
What do you want people to know about food assistance programs like CalFresh?
I want people to know that they have the power to improve their lives by eliminating barriers and sacrifices. They can take back control of their lives through CalFresh. They should not have to decide between being able to pay the bills or having enough money to purchase groceries. A person never knows what curve balls life can throw at them or someone they may know. They may need CalFresh one day and it is vital that they know they can have access to such a resource. CalFresh has helped me and my son and is helping better the lives of many.
Do you know someone who needs access to CalFresh?