Summer Meals Success Story - Hunger Free Kids

In 2019, South Bay Union School District received the United States Department of Agriculture’s Turnip the Beet gold award which recognizes outstanding Summer Meal Program sponsors for their work offering high-quality meals that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious. SBUSD received this national recognition for their incredible programs throughout the Southern San Diego region which serve over 800 kids every day at 9 or more sites each year from June through July.

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“It’s really important to make sure these kids are getting enough healthy food to eat during the summer,” says Ana Castro, Registered Dietitian for South Bay Union School District during an interview with KUSI News, “Our summer is six weeks long, we provide summer meals for five weeks.”

                Started in 2010, SBUSD’s Summer Meals Program is focused on bringing people together in a way that resonates with the community. The school district serves a lot of Imperial Beach residents who relish the outdoors, so many of their summer meal sites are in parks or community centers. With a majority of

their kids coming from white or Hispanic families, SBUSD also serves culturally appropriate meals that appeal to kids such as tamales, grilled cheese, burritos, and pizza. Kids love the food, parents love the locations, and participants keep coming back year after year.               

“I brought 35 kids and 15 high school volunteers,” says Yesenia Nuñez with Casa Familiar Youth Center, a local nonprofit. “The kids love the watermelon and corn, and they’re excited because last year, this playground wasn’t done and now they get to play in the new playground!”

                A cornerstone of SBUSD’s Summer Meals Program are weekly BBQ’s. SBUSD invites families to a different site every week so that they can reach as many kids as possible. Hosted in partnership with the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, every BBQ includes fun activities such as Zumba, live music, free curated samples of fresh produce, and fire and police department meet and greets.

                “Our slogan is to eat smart and play hard, and we really try to emphasize that,” says Manuel Gonzalez, District Manager with San Diego Parks and Recreation, “this partnership is so important, we wouldn’t be able to do it without South Bay Union School District. This is really a manifestation of all of the resources available to the community.”

 
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                On a sunny Wednesday in mid-July, over 100 kids gather at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in San Ysidro for burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, corn, milk, and juice. There are music, activities, face painting, and a chance to meet and play games with local police officers. Spread out amongst picnic tables, blankets, playgrounds, and benches, families enjoy a relaxing and beautiful San Diego summer day. Parents are clearly appreciative of the healthy food and safe environment, and the opportunity for their kids to do something fun.

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                “I’ve lived here for 35 years, this is the first time I’ve come,” says Javier, a father of two girls. “There didn’t used to be much in this park, but they’ve really built it up, that’s why we came.” Javier’s daughters are enjoying watermelon, low-fat milk, hotdogs, and corn on the cob. “I’ve been financially strapped lately, so BBQs like this are great to give my kids something to do during the summer. I wish there were more activities like this.”

Beck & Cage the Elephant support hunger relief in San Diego

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In July 2019, Beck, Cage the Elephant, and Spoon are coming to San Diego for their Night Running Tour at the North Island Amphitheatre. The bands have selected San Diego Hunger Coalition as the beneficiary for a grant funded by a $1 add-on to each concert ticket sold. The bands are also hosting a special opportunity drawing for two VIP passes with a chance to meet Cage the Elephant after the concert. You are entered into the drawing when you make a donation through their website. Enter the drawing by July 19, 2019!

Donations are coordinated by Canadian nonprofit Plus1, whose programs are based on the idea that art is both a form of expression and a catalyst for change. They engage celebrity artists to create publicity, momentum, and funding for nonprofit organizations in the cities in which the artists perform.

For the Night Running Tour, all three bands selected Hunger Relief as their cause, and San Diego Hunger Coalition is in good company for the recipients of the tour’s grants!

Thank you to Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Plus1! We are thrilled to be a part of this tour!


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2019 CalFresh Challenge

Every year, the San Diego Hunger Coalition challenges San Diego residents to eat on the average CalFresh budget for up to five days. For the 2019 CalFresh Challenge, the budget was $4.07/day per person. The purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness of hunger in our communities while giving people a glimpse of what it is like to live on a meager food budget.

This year, several of our staff members took the CalFresh Challenge for the full five days. Below are some pictures from their week.

If you took the CalFresh Challenge, we would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. If you were unable to take the challenge this year, that’s okay! There are lots of ways you can support hunger relief in our community, including making a donation to support our CalFresh Outreach Program.


Joe Shumate, Communications Officer

Shopping trip for Joe and his wife. They found it easier to stay on the CalFresh budget if they prepared a mostly vegan menu.

Shopping trip for Joe and his wife. They found it easier to stay on the CalFresh budget if they prepared a mostly vegan menu.

Joe’s lunch every day during the CalFresh Challenge.

Joe’s lunch every day during the CalFresh Challenge.

Joe’s dinner for two nights of the challenge.

Joe’s dinner for two nights of the challenge.

This was Joe’s dinner for one of the nights. He was finishing up his master’s degree with late-night classes and found he didn’t have the energy to cook by the time he got home after working all day and then going to school.

This was Joe’s dinner for one of the nights. He was finishing up his master’s degree with late-night classes and found he didn’t have the energy to cook by the time he got home after working all day and then going to school.

Dinner for Joe and his wife - cucumber nori rolls.

Dinner for Joe and his wife - cucumber nori rolls.


Amanda Schultz Brochu, Senior Director of Programs

Amanda’s shopping trip for the CalFresh Challenge. Amanda has done this challenge for several years and has learned how to shop for healthy and filling food on a limited budget. It’s a skill and takes time.

Amanda’s shopping trip for the CalFresh Challenge. Amanda has done this challenge for several years and has learned how to shop for healthy and filling food on a limited budget. It’s a skill and takes time.


Jaqueline Hess, CalFresh Program Manager

Jaqueline’s shopping trip for the CalFresh Challenge.

Jaqueline’s shopping trip for the CalFresh Challenge.

Dinner and Jaqueline’s lunches for the week.

Dinner and Jaqueline’s lunches for the week.

One of Jaqueline’s dinners. She admits it wasn’t the healthiest choice, but it was one of the most affordable on her limited budget.

One of Jaqueline’s dinners. She admits it wasn’t the healthiest choice, but it was one of the most affordable on her limited budget.

Hunger Advocacy Network's 2019 Legislative Priorities

Each year the Hunger Advocacy Network, facilitated by the San Diego Hunger Coalition, selects local, state, and federal legislative priorities that the group follows closely and advocates for or against. These priorities have the potential to deeply impact hunger relief in positive or negative ways.

Legislative advocacy is one of the most effective ways to implement lasting change by becoming an active part of American democracy. Below are easy-read overviews of the 2019 priorities.

Questions? Contact Amanda Schultz Brochu, Senior Director of Programs, at amanda@sdhunger.org.


AB 341 CalHEERS Applications for CalFresh

UPDATE (07/03/19): Referred to appropriations for hearing on 04/24/2019 - hearing not set, died in suspense.

Background: When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, California was required to create a way for people to enroll in affordable healthcare plans. The state created CalHEERS, an online system where people can input their information and select the healthcare program that is right for them. In many instances, health coverage is provided by Medi-Cal, California’s government-funded health program for low-income residents. Often, when someone is eligible for Medi-Cal, they are also eligible for CalFresh food assistance benefits.

What This Bill Does: This bill will allow applicants applying for affordable healthcare through the CalHEERS online system to apply for CalFresh at the same time.

Impact: There will be a potential increase in CalFresh enrollment due to simplifying the application process and removing the stigma that is attached to asking for food assistance by circumventing direct application. There may be an accompanying decrease in food insecurity throughout the State of California. Although more California residents may start receiving CalFresh benefits, this will not cost taxpayers any additional money since CalFresh is federally funded and these funds will be collected through federal income taxes regardless of whether this bill passes.


AB 494 Shelter Expense Deduction

UPDATE (07/12/19): Headed to the governor for signature. Send a letter as soon as possible, click here!

Background: When a person applies for CalFresh food assistance, the county takes their cost of living into account when determining the amount of benefits they will receive. Applicants qualify for more benefits if they have higher housing expenses. Under federal law, states may select for themselves how to verify cost of housing. In California, this process is often drawn-out, difficult, and prone to multiple barriers for low-income residents such as lack of timely access to lease agreements, the cost of duplicating and sending paperwork to the appropriate offices, and living situations without a lease.

What This Bill Does: This bill will simplify the process by allowing applicants to submit a self-certified statement of their housing expenses. Counties may still request further verification if the applicant’s statement is questionable and their housing costs seem out of the ordinary.

Impact: There may be reduced administrative costs to counties that will no longer have to expend resources on a time-consuming verification process. This bill will also remove barriers to low-income families in high-cost-of-housing regions in California from accessing CalFresh benefits. This will increase the stability of these households and their access to healthy food while stimulating the local economy. There may be an accompanying decrease in food insecurity throughout the State of California. Although CalFresh benefits may increase for some recipients, this will not cost taxpayers any additional money since CalFresh is federally funded and these funds will be collected through federal income taxes regardless of whether this bill passes.


AB 842 Hunger-Free Preschool

UPDATE (07/03/19): Amended and sent back to committee, hearing set on 07/03/2019

Background: California State law requires that all needy children in grades K-12 be provided at least one nutritionally balanced meal each school day for free or low-cost. These meals are generally reimbursable through federal child nutrition programs, and the State of California has created an additional fund to supplement federal funding. Most preschool and child care providers, however, are excluded from funding for child nutrition and low-income children in public preschool and subsidized childcare remain the only public school students not guaranteed access to a nutritious, affordable meal.

What This Bill Does: This bill will expand existing child nutrition programs to include pre-school and child care facilities operated by a school district, county, or state. Part-day facilities will be required by law to provide one nutritionally-balanced meal, full-day facilities will be required to provide two nutritionally-balanced meal.

Impact: Low-income children will be guaranteed at least one nutritious meal each school day. Studies show that proper nutrition at these young ages reduce the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes and increase academic performance and physical and mental development. This bill will also help low-income families meet their basic needs by reducing the household grocery bill and freeing up funds for other necessities such as clothing and housing.


AB 614 Food Bank Tax Credit

UPDATE (07/12/19): Is in appropriations. Send a letter as soon as possible, click here!

Background: California is the nation’s largest producer of agriculture, providing half of the United States’ fresh produce. The state currently allows a tax deduction for growers and harvesters of fresh fruit and produce who donate a portion of their surplus to food banks. Nonetheless, California experiences high levels of food insecurity, food deserts, and food waste.

What This Bill Does: This bill will expand access to the tax credit provided to agricultural growers by adding additional staple items grown and produced in California such as dairy, canned goods, and processed grains. It will also expand who may request a tax credit to include not only growers and harvesters but also food manufacturers and preparation facilities.

Impact: This bill will potentially increase access to healthy foods via food banks who may have an increased supply of shelf-stable food staples. California growers and producers will also receive financial relief in the form of a tax credit for food products not sold. This bill may also result in reduced food waste which is a drain on precious California resources, such as water, and an environmental hazard.


AB 1229 End Foster Youth Student Hunger in California Act of 2019

UPDATE (07/03/19): Passed first house; in Senate Human Services - amended and sent back to committee, hearing not set.

Background: Under the current law, college students may receive CalFresh (SNAP) food assistance if they meet very strict eligibility guidelines. Foster youth going to college must meet those same guidelines, but without the support system that many traditional students have. Foster youth have poorer educational outcomes when compared to their non-foster peers due to financial instability and lack of support. Increasing access to food is a researched-backed way to improve educational outcomes while providing a financial lift.

What This Bill Does: This bill would establish a new nutritional support program for transitional foster youth (between the ages of 18 and 21) that will provide benefits amounting to the cost of a meal plan at post-high school educational institutions a foster youth is currently attending. The meal plan or meal plan equivalent must provide 10 meals/week. The bill will also ensure that foster youth are not denied CalFresh benefits because they have received housing assistance or are participating in an unpaid internship instead of a paid job.

Impact: This bill will ensure that current and former foster youth have enough to eat, both through CalFresh (SNAP) and college meal programs. The expected outcomes are improved academic performance in higher education programs, and increased graduation rates with certifications, associate’s, and bachelor’s degrees. Completion of higher education prepares foster youths to excel and succeed in their post-foster system lives.

CA Seniors, people with disabilities, newly eligible for both SSI and CalFresh!

Starting in June 2019, major changes are coming to Californians who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Previously, SSI recipients were ineligible in California to also receive CalFresh (SNAP) benefits. This will end in June!

For more information, check out our SSI Repients page on our website.

Nonprofit and community organizations can find helpful resources on our SSI partner page.


Background:

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When the SSI program began in the 1970’s, states were given the option to include a cash benefit for food, lumped into SSI payments, instead of providing food stamps for SSI recipients. This was known as the “SSI Cashout” and was a way for states to save on administrative costs while still providing for their low-income residents.

Over the years, the SSI Cashout has become a problem for many low-income Californians. One of the problems is that the $10 food benefit started in the 1970’s never saw an increase. in 2019, SSI recipients still get the same $10 for food assistance, while they remain ineligible for CalFresh benefits. Additionally, the current individual SSI benefit total is the same level it was in 1983! Someone on SSI will receive an average payment of $932/month while the 2019 federal poverty level is $1,040/.month.

What does this all mean?

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Many Californians are below the poverty level and struggling to meet their basic needs. Those on SSI often have to make the tough choices between paying for housing, medicine, and food. The Hunger Coalition was active and instrumental in gathering momentum to end SSI Cashout an reinstate state funding to increase SSI benefits and a Cost of Living Adjustment. This year, these efforts were successful! The changes that take effect in June 2019 have the potential to significantly reduce food insecurity among seniors and people with disabilities in San Diego County and across the state of California.

The San Diego Hunger Coalition is actively training and working with local nonprofit organizations, the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, and the California Department of Social Services to educate and inform those affected by the changes and encourage those eligible for CalFresh to apply. We have created special web pages with information and resources for both SSI recipients and the organizations that serve them.

Questions? Contact Jaqueline Hess, CalFresh Program Manager, at jaqueline@sdhunger.org.

#MythbusterMonday - April 2018

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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 youth 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 April, we busted the following hunger myths:

April 2

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 March. Click here. 

April 9

#MythbusterMonday "People who receive public benefits are 'takers' rather than 'makers,' " False! This is untrue for the vast majority of working-age SNAP recipients. SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, currently serve about 42 million Americans. At least one adult in more than half of SNAP-recipient households is working. The average SNAP subsidy is $125 per month, or $1.40 per meal – hardly enough to justify quitting a job. Click here to read more from the Chicago Tribune. 

April 16

#MythbusterMonday "CalFresh/SNAP is a drain on tax-payers." False! CalFresh/SNAP is good for the economy. Every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in economic activity. Click on the here to learn more and read other myths about CalFresh/SNAP. 

April 23

#MythbusterMonday "People who get CalFresh/SNAP benefits aren’t employed and have no incentive to look for work." False! CalFresh/SNAP helps people stay afloat in between jobs. Nationally, more than 80 percent of SNAP participants reported working in the year before or after receiving SNAP. In San Diego County, the current average CalFresh benefit per person is $4.10/day, hardly an incentive not to work. Take the #CalFreshChallengefrom May 7 - 11 to experience what its like to live on an extremely limited food budget. Click here to learn more and register.


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram


San Diego Hunger Coalition and the Hunger Advocacy Network Oppose the Cuts and Changes to SNAP Included in the House of Representative’s Draft of the Farm Bill

SAN DIEGO, April 12, 2018 –  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as CalFresh locally, and formerly known as food stamps) that serves more than 260,000 residents of San Diego County is being targeted for devastating structural changes that will increase hunger and poverty in our region. The federal Farm Bill, which houses the SNAP program, is scheduled to be reauthorized this year. The House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee released their first draft of the Farm Bill yesterday which disregards evidenced-based policymaking in favor of unfounded and aggressive work requirements as well as other restrictions that will harm low-income people and families teetering on the edge of stability.

Proposed changes to SNAP in the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee’s version of the bill include creating harsher rules for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs), who like many others turn to CalFresh/SNAP when jobs are lost, hours are cut, or wages don't cover basic living expenses. The proposal would place an additional burden on states to develop new bureaucracies to develop and implement employment and training programs on an extremely limited budget of $300 per participant. The proposal also expands work requirements to CalFresh/SNAP beneficiaries between ages 18 and 59 who aren’t disabled or raising a child under age six.

Additionally, the House's version of the Farm Bill also proposes to eliminate what is known as "categorical eligibility" for the majority of CalFresh/SNAP households with gross incomes modestly above 130 percent of the federal poverty line, regardless of how high the household’s child care or housing costs may be and whether such costs leave them with disposable income below the poverty line. Categorical eligibility is currently used by 40 states, including California, to adjust income cutoffs and asset limits so that low-wage working families don't abruptly lose their CalFresh/SNAP benefits when they earn slightly more.   Click here for an issue brief on CalFresh/SNAP's impact in San Diego County. 

“The San Diego Hunger Coalition and Hunger Advocacy Network are deeply disappointed with the proposed changes to the SNAP program included in the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee’s draft of the Farm Bill. The current average CalFresh benefit per person is $4.10 per day. This amount already isn’t enough. These changes will be devastating to our region’s most vulnerable populations, many of whom are working hard but falling short due to low wages and San Diego County’s high cost of living. CalFresh/SNAP helps people cover the basic need of putting food on the table so they can get back on their feet more quickly,” said San Diego Hunger Coalition Executive Director Anahid Brakke.

To help raise awareness and show our representatives in Congress how much CalFresh/SNAP means to San Diego County, the San Diego Hunger Coalition and Hunger Advocacy Network are encouraging people to walk in the shoes of someone on CalFresh/SNAP by taking their 2018 #CalFreshChallenge from May 7 - 11. Register for the #CalFreshChallenge at SDhunger.org/CFC.

Each year, the San Diego Hunger Coalition encourages people who don’t have to worry about having enough food to try living on the average CalFresh benefit per person of $4.10 for one day on May 7th or $20.50 for all five days from May 7-11.  The #CalFreshChallenge is a way to raise awareness about the benefit of the program, advocate for hunger relief policies with elected officials, and raise money for the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s CalFresh Task Force to help connect more eligible people in need to the program.

San Diego Hunger Coalition is Part of a Strong San Diego County Contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum

The San Diego County contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum. 

The San Diego County contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum. 

Our CalFresh Team, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and members of our CalFresh Task Force descended on our state’s capitol to advocate for policies that support CalFresh (known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP at the federal level and formerly known as food stamps) and engage with other CalFresh providers at this year’s California Food Policy Advocate’s (CFPA) CalFresh Forum and CalFresh Peer-to-Peer.

Each year, the CalFresh Forum brings together hundreds of key stakeholders from across the state to identify opportunities and discuss strategies to improve the reach and impact of this vital food assistance program and hear directly from state and federal leaders regarding the current state of CalFresh and how to ensure the program continues to be available for those who need it.

San Diego County was well represented at this year’s forum. Albert Garcia, CalFresh Program Manager for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency presented on opportunities to connect Medi-Cal recipients to CalFresh benefits in our region. Ismael Lopez, CalFresh Community Liaison for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services won the forum’s “Freshy” award for CalFresh Outreach Leader of the Year Award!  Members of our CalFresh Task Force also in attendance were Feeding San Diego, Heaven’s Windows, Neighborhood Healthcare, 2-1-1 San Diego, San Ysidro Health Center, San Diego Food Bank, La Maestra Community Health Centers, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, and Alliance for African Assistance.

Additional highlights from this year’s CalFresh Forum include dynamic presentations on how to protect and strengthen CalFresh given by Kim McCoy Wade, Chief, CalFresh Branch for the California Department of Social Services, Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Ed Bolen, Senior Policy Analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

CalFresh application assistance agencies also met the day prior to share best practices and strategies for outreach with fellow case managers across the state as a part of the CalFresh Peer-to-Peer Forum, hosted by the California Association of Food Banks.  At this statewide meeting, partners gained new perspectives on CalFresh college student outreach, Disaster CalFresh, and ways to talk to clients about potential changes to eligibility and time limits for childless adults (also known as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents or ABAWDs). The San Diego Hunger Coalition, Feeding San Diego and San Diego Food Bank served on the planning committee for this event.

California Assemblymember Todd Gloria with San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu. 

California Assemblymember Todd Gloria with San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu. 

While in Sacramento, our Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu took the opportunity to meet with Assemblymember Todd Gloria and staff members from six other California Assemblymember’s offices. She discussed food insecurity in San Diego County and AB 3033, a State Assembly bill authored by Assemblymember Brain Maienschein and co-sponsored by the San Diego Hunger Coalition and the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations that would make it easier for people applying for Medi-Cal using Covered California to apply for CalFresh at the same time.

#MythbusterMonday - March 2018 Myths Busted!

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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 youth 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 March, we busted the following hunger myths:

March 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 February. Click here. 

March 12

#MythbusterMonday "You must have a place to cook and store food to get SNAP/CalFresh benefits." False! You can’t be turned down for SNAP/CalFresh benefits because you don’t have a kitchen or a place to cook. Click here to read more myths and facts about SNAP/CalFresh for homeless persons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

March 19

#MythbusterMonday "SNAP recipients are lazy and don't work." False! According to The Hamilton Project "The vast majority of food-insecure households with children are working households: over 85 percent of households with children reporting food insecurity in 2014 also reported at least one adult who earned an income in 2014. Among every type of household reporting food insecurity—i.e., households headed by married couples, single mothers, or single fathers—at least 75 percent of households had an earner during the year they experienced food insecurity. Nonetheless, the income generated by work over the year was not sufficient to protect those working families from food insecurity. Click on the link to read more fact about food insecurity and SNAP. 

March 26

#MythbusterMonday "Our youth organization can't provide meals because we don’t have a kitchen or space to prepare food." False! Many nonprofits partner with a sponsor like a school or food bank to prepare the food or work with a vendor to serve room temperature, healthy options that don’t require a kitchen for preparation or significant refrigeration space. Interested in starting or expanding youth meals in your area? Visit our Hunger Free Kids webpage to learn more. 


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram

Afterschool Meals Through CACFP Help Ensure Low-Income Children Don't go to bed Hungry

Many children’s days don’t end when the last school bell rings. In fact, a report conducted by the Afterschool Alliance found that participation in afterschool programs has consistently increased over the past 10 years, rising by nearly 2 million children in the last five year years alone. The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program through the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is one of the most effective defenses in the fight against child hunger, as it provides the funding to serve suppers at eligible afterschool programs. Any program that provides child care and enrichment activities (e.g. tutoring, music lessons, arts and crafts, etc.) after school, on weekends, holidays, or breaks during the school year and operates in an area where 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals is eligible for CACFP.

Our goal is to raise awareness about this program and support our partners on the ground at schools and nonprofits across San Diego County with information, application assistance, grant writing, and administrative review to expand CACFP meal sites in our region.

Through our Hunger Free Kids Task Force, we have been able to connect Feeding San Diego with Vista Community Clinic to expand afterschool meals at the Clinic’s youth-serving Project REACH program at two different locations in Oceanside. At the Libby Lake Community Center, the Clinic’s physicians actively inform parents about the afterschool meals available just upstairs at the Project REACH offices, helping to promote both free meals and enrichment activities available to their children.

Additionally, Feeding San Diego serves as a sponsor to provide CACFP youth meals at North County Lifeline’s Las Casitas and La Escuelita’s Youth Development Clubs. These two sites serve afterschool suppers every weekday, totaling at least 150 meals each week, with the help of meal vendor Top Notch Catering. And because the funding grows as a program grows, their goal to consistently increase the number of meals served is made easily attainable because each meal is reimbursed through the United States Department of Agriculture at its fixed rate, with no devaluation or loss on behalf of the program.

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

While we are making promising strides with CACFP locally, No Kid Hungry and the School Nutrition Foundation have found a large gap in afterschool meals nationally. There are less than four afterschool suppers served for every hundred school lunches going to kids in need across the country.

Their “Three Meals a Day: A Win-Win-Win” report outlines the great need for afterschool meals:

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CACFP has the means to address these needs through the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, and yet eligible programs are still not taking advantage of this viable solution. Many afterschool meal sites serve no meals or only a small snack. If they do provide food, it is often paid for out of the program’s general fund or the staff’s own dime, causing the program to miss out on valuable federal meal reimbursements.

Become a champion for youth meals in your area! Visit the Hunger Free Kids Task Force webpage or attend an upcoming meeting for more information. If you know of an afterschool program that may be eligible for CACFP, please contact our Hunger Free Kids Program Director Robin McNulty at Robin@sdhunger.org.

Expanding Breakfast After the Bell in San Diego County

You’ve probably heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Whether you agree with this or disregard it as a mere cliché, studies show that this is a phrase we shouldn’t be ignoring. However, the harsh reality is that in San Diego County, 1 in 5 children don’t always have enough to eat. While the traditional School Breakfast Program is offered on many campuses and aims to address hunger and support student achievement, it has limited reach. Serving breakfast before the start of the school day leads to missed opportunities for students who cannot arrive early. Breakfast After the Bell is an innovative program designed to more effectively reach children by incorporating the benefits of a nutritious breakfast into their daily school routine.

San Diego Hunger Coalition has played a vital role in helping to implement and expand the following proven-effective Breakfast After the Bell models. We do so by working with school districts and nonprofits to provide technical assistance, share best practices, review eligible schools, conduct financial analyses, and support grant writing for equipment and other meal resources.

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Within the last year, there has been a notable expansion of Breakfast After the Bell, particularly in the San Diego Unified School District. K-12 eligible schools (those participating in the National School Lunch Program) now serve Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab n’ Go and Nutrition Break, an allotted time after first period where breakfast is served from carts in the hallway or other high foot traffic areas of the campus. Following San Diego Unified’s lead, BIC is now also served at eligible elementary schools in Cajon Valley, as well as Felicita Elementary in the Escondido Union School District

Statistics gathered from Millenial, Montgomery, Roosevelt, Wilson, Bell & CPMA Middle Schools.

Statistics gathered from Millenial, Montgomery, Roosevelt, Wilson, Bell & CPMA Middle Schools.

Evidence shows that eating breakfast is healthy, especially for growing bodies. Research has proven that access to nutrition, particular breakfast, can enhance a student’s psychosocial well-being, reduce aggression and school suspensions, and decrease discipline problems (Brown et al., 2008). Marcie Beth Schneider, a member of the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition and an adolescent medicine physician, explained how eating breakfast directly affects school performance: “Study after study shows that kids who eat breakfast function better. They do better in school and have better concentration and more energy.”

This increase in School Breakfast Program participation is an encouraging start, but there is still much to be done in the fight against child hunger. You can find out how San Diego County school districts are doing to implement Breakfast After the Bell in our Hunger Free Kids Report School District Profiles.

Join our efforts to ensure that all children have year-round access to healthy food. To get involved and find out how to become a champion for youth meals, visit the Hunger Free Kids Task Force webpage or contact our Hunger Free Kids Program Director Robin McNulty at Robin@sdhunger.org for more information.

#MythbusterMonday - February 2018 Myths Busted!

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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 youth 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 February, we busted the following hunger myths:

February 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 January. Click here.

February 12

#MythbusterMonday "Too many people are taking advantage of CalFresh/SNAP." False! After unemployment insurance, CalFresh/SNAP, is the most responsive federal program available to provide additional assistance during economic downturns. Enrollment expands when the economy weakens and contracts when the economy recovers.The program also provides important nutritional support for low-wage working families, low-income seniors and people with disabilities with fixed incomes. Read more from Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC.

February 19

#MythbusterMonday "The pre-determined food boxes for SNAP recipients in President Trump's latest budget proposal will support American farmers and be similar to fresh meal delivery services like Blue Apron." False! The pre-determined food boxes Trump is proposing will contain canned and non-perishable food items, there would be no fresh fruit, vegetables or meat. This proposal is about enabling the government to save money by buying in bulk in order to make up for the $1 trillion deficit that will be left by the new tax plan passed at the end of 2017.

February 26

#MythbusterMonday "Government programs enable people to be lazy and live on society's dime." False! Receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) hardly enables anyone to live well. The average benefit equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal. And in most cases, the money runs out before the month ends. Learn more from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger


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A Year in Review 2017

As we look back on the past year, we’re motivated by everything we and our more than 100 partners accomplished together to help our fellow San Diego residents access the food assistance resources.

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Now, we’re sharing our favorite 2017 wins with you. Thanks to your support, we:

1. Saved Breakfast in the Classroom for at least one more year for more than 1,000 students in the Lemon Grove School District by providing advocacy training and support to our partners as well as parents and students.

2. Supported the City of Oceanside and Oceanside Unified School District to expand afterschool suppers and Summer Meals in the city thanks to a grant from the National League of Cities, Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS) initiative.

3. Helped more than 215 households access food assistance by resolving over 230 technical issues with their CalFresh/SNAP applications.

4. Trained 369 staff, volunteers, and interns from hunger relief and human service agencies to provide CalFresh/SNAP application assistance.

5. Directed more than $326,000 to local nonprofits helping low-income individuals and families apply for CalFresh/SNAP, as a contractor for the state CalFresh Outreach Program.

6. Supported the passage of 4 State hunger relief policies that will help more eligible children and adults enroll in CalFresh and free and reduced-price school meals and broadens the tax credit for donated fresh fruits and vegetables.

The fight to end hunger continues in 2018. Our partners on the ground know how great the need for food assistance is, but the current administration has set its sights on dismantling and weakening CalFresh/SNAP by targeting the program for deep cuts disguised as “entitlement reform.” It will take all of us, raising our voices and telling our stories, to protect and strengthen these programs so that they remain available for the nearly 500,000 food insecure people in San Diego County.

You can get involved in the fight against hunger by signing up to be a Hunger Free Activist, sharing your experience with CalFresh, or making a donation to support our work.

Why Trump’s Idea to Use SNAP Recipient’s Benefits to Pay for Pre-Determined Food Boxes Won’t Work to Fight Hunger

Last week, President Trump released his 2019 budget proposal, a first draft of the direction he would like to see Congress take for the year. The latest budget proposal out of the White House continues the current administration’s rhetoric of targeting anti-poverty programs by proposing $213 billion in cuts over the next 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California. A main structural change to the program included in Trump’s budget proposal that is getting a lot of attention is the idea to use a portion of SNAP recipient’s benefits to fund pre-determined, pre-packaged food boxes that would be sent to program recipients who receive more than $90 in benefits a month.

Getty Images

Getty Images

These cuts to SNAP, are being disguised as “Harvest Boxes” that will support American farmers, but in reality, they would be filled with non-perishable and canned foods and be forced on to low-income families without any regard for their unique dietary needs and preferences. Read on for 13 reasons why these proposed food boxes take away support from private retailers and limit SNAP recipient’s access to fresh, nutritious food, in addition to being an inefficient way to meet food insecure people’s needs.

1) Trump’s plan distracts us from what really matters: the current administration is suggesting that we require everyone to work to receive public benefits while simultaneously cutting our nation’s education and workforce development budgets, making it harder for people to gain the skills required to find meaningful employment.

2) SNAP works; we don't need to "fix it." While the benefit amount could be increased, as a program, SNAP already works great.  It generates the greatest economic activity than any other public program and has one of the lowest fraud rate of any government program, typically less than 2%.

3) Delivering food boxes to people's doorsteps is complicated, especially because low-income populations move a lot in search of affordable housing. Up to 20% of SNAP recipients must reapply because they don't receive their recertification paperwork in the mail.  Are we willing to waste 20% of food boxes because people no longer live where they did when they signed up for the program?

4) Efficient delivery of food boxes to rural areas is unrealistic: there are places that even Amazon won't go. Why waste SNAP dollars to pay for the massive transportation infrastructure needed to distribute these food boxes when food distribution channels are already in place for grocery stores, where SNAP recipients can currently buy food. 

5) Having people pick up food boxes is burdensome: Low income populations have more limited access to transportation. People receiving SNAP already need to grocery shop, the beauty of the current program is that they have additional dollars to spend where they already shop.

6) Charity programs have already spoken out and said that they do not have the capacity to administer a program like this on such a broad scale.

7) Pre-determined food boxes would reverse SNAP’s successful public-private partnership with some 260,000 retail who accept SNAP via EBT cards in favor of a government-driven approach. Currently, it is estimated that every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity.

8) Making states develop programs to distribute the proposed food boxes is very difficult and will doom the project from the start. Many states barely have the infrastructure in place to help their residents access health care let alone design and deliver food boxes.

9) Predetermined food boxes result in massive food waste. Why give people items like dried milk when they can currently purchase the type of milk they actually want to drink at the grocery store?

10) Predetermined food boxes can't completely take into account food allergies, religious and cultural practices, or general dietary preferences.  SNAP allows recipients to use resources in a way that works best for their family.   

11) The distribution of predetermined food boxes is based on the idea that SNAP recipients don't know how to budget their money wisely and that the government can do a better job. However, research shows people use SNAP to make the same types of purchases as people who do not have SNAP. Under the current program, as people have a larger food purchasing budget, their overall purchases of nutritional foods like fresh fruits and vegetables increases.  

12) Why force people to eat canned/boxed food when they can currently use SNAP to purchase and prepare more nutritious fresh food? While it’s easy to compare pre-determined food boxes to farm-to-table food delivery services like Blue Apron, the pre-determined food boxes included in Trump’s latest budget proposal would not include fresh fruit, vegetables, or meat. Additionally, comparing Trump’s food boxes to food delivery programs fails to account differences in price per meals between Trump’s proposal and programs like Blue Apron. While Blue Apron’s price per serving is $10, the price per meal for a SNAP Meal is just $1.40.

13) If Trump’s real intention is to help American farmers, there are other more effective ways to do so, including increasing funding to FINI grants, which encourage SNAP recipients to use their benefits to purchase locally grown, American produce.

It’s important to remember that the President’s budget proposal is only a blue print, not a final budget. However, if any of the structural changes or funding cuts to SNAP move forward it will significantly harm the millions of very-low income families, seniors, people with disabilities, and American workers who rely on the program.  Click on the link to find and contact your representative and tell them to oppose cuts to SNAP in the budget and any other legislation. Cuts to programs that help struggling individuals and families meet basic needs is not a responsible approach to addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges.

#MythbusterMonday - January 2018 Myths Busted!

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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 youth 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 January, we busted the following hunger myths:

January 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 December 2017.  Click here. 

January 8

#MythbusterMonday “Senior hunger is only a problem for poor people.” False! Senior hunger is not just an income issue. It is also a problem of access and care. Many seniors who can afford it, lack the mobility to get and prepare their own meals and don’t have other support systems to help them. Those same seniors and others live in areas that are more difficult to access. Click here to read more myths about senior hunger from HuffPost. 

January 16

#MythbusterMonday "Hunger in the U.S. is only found in poor urban neighborhoods." False! Hunger is also found in rural America. According to Feeding America, "People who live in rural areas often face hunger at higher rates, in part because of the unique challenges living remotely presents. These challenges include an increased likelihood of food deserts with the nearest food pantry or food bank potentially hours away, job opportunities that are more concentrated in low-wage industries and higher rates of unemployment and underemployment." Click here to learn more. 

January 22

#MythbusterMonday - "With programs like Breakfast in the Classroom, kids will eat twice or too much." False! A 2015 study by health professionals published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics concluded that breakfast in the classroom was not associated with an increase in calorie intake at breakfast time or throughout the day. If anything it led to more kids getting breakfast. Click here to read more from No Kid Hungry.

January 29

#MythbusterMonday "The U.S. is the richest country, so we have less hunger." False! According to a 2014 guest column by Tracie McMillan in The Chautauquan Daily there are about 49 million Americans who say they run out of food at least once a year (1 in 6) — putting the U.S. at the bottom of the pack when it comes to our country's economic peers. In many European countries, the ratio of hungry to fed is one in 20.


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram

#MythbusterMonday - December 2017 Myths Busted!

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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 December, we busted the following hunger myths:

December 4

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 November 2017. Click here

December 11

#MythBusterMonday "Too many people take advantage of CalFresh/SNAP benefits." False! After unemployment insurance, CalFresh/SNAP is the most responsive federal program available to provide additional assistance during economic downturns. Enrollment expands when the economy weakens and contracts when the economy recovers.

December 18

#MythbusterMonday "Breakfast in the Classroom makes a mess." False! Many teachers and principals say that any mess or trash issues can be overcome with a smart system. Creating roles and opportunities for students to clean up after themselves can make breakfast a simple experience. Click here to read more from No Kid Hungry.
 

December 25

#MythbusterMonday “Government assistance is a waste of money and doesn't accomplish its goals.” False! Poverty rates would likely double without safety net programs like CalFresh/SNAP and add to human suffering. Last year, the safety net lifted 38 million people, including 8 million children, out of poverty. Click here to read more myths about poverty.


Follow the San Diego Hunger Coalition on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram

REPLACEMENT CALFRESH AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY SAN DIEGO COUNTY WILDFIRES & POWER OUTAGES

Last updated: December 14, 2017

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Replacement CalFresh

Due to the number of residents affected by power outages and wildfires in San Diego County, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency received a waiver that extends the deadline to request Replacement CalFresh. Residents who lost benefits and live in the impacted zip codes below have until January 4, 2018 to request Replacement CalFresh.

The impacted zip codes include: 91901, 91905, 91906, 91916, 91917, 91931, 91934, 91935, 91948, 91962, 91963, 91980, 92003, 92026, 92027, 92028, 92036, 92054, 92056, 92057, 92058, 92059, 92060, 92061, 92065, 92066, 92069, 92070, 92082, 92083, 92084, and 92086.

Residents requesting replacement CalFresh must complete a CF 303 Form (English  | Spanish) and an Affidavit of Loss form (English | Spanish). These forms must be submitted in person at a County of San Diego HHSA Family Resource Center (find a location here) or the Local Assistance Center at the Vista Branch Library (700 Eucalyptus Avenue). 

Benefits will be restored to the CalFresh EBT card for that individual or household. The maximum replacement benefit individuals can recoup is one full month’s worth of benefits. Replacement Requests will be processed and benefits will be reissued within 10 days of submitting.

Local Assistance Center (LAC) open from December 11 - 16, 2017

The County of San Diego has opened a Local Assistance Center in Vista to help individuals and families affected by the Lilac Fire. County and community-based organizations will be available this week to provide case management, crisis counseling and referral services, tax relief information and records replacement, short-term housing referrals, CalFresh/SNAP resources and information, information on residential rebuilding and permitting and consumer fraud and a mobile medical clinic. For more information, residents can call or visit:

  • Local Assistance Center is located at the Vista branch library at 700 Eucalyptus Avenue and will be open from 9am- 6pm. the site will remain open until Saturday, December 16th. 
  • Residents who live in the unincorporated part of San Diego County may call the Recovery Assistance Hotline at 858.495.5200 or email CountyFireRecovery@sdcounty.ca.gov.