Hunger Action Month and CalFresh Challenge Recap


In reflecting on Hunger Action Month, San Diego Hunger Coalition is proud of the progress we made with our partners in raising our region’s understanding of hunger. In addition to participating in a collaborative social media campaign with other anti-hunger organizations, the Hunger Coalition hosted the annual CalFresh Challenge. Over 60 organizations and individuals participated including, for the first time ever, Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Shirley Weber (and many of her staff). They accepted the challenge head on and were led to the all-too-common conclusion that the average CalFresh benefit of $4.38/day is barely enough to fuel an active, healthy life. Read about Senator Hueso’s experience here

As we move into the holiday season, we encourage our supporters not to lose momentum in their work advocating for those who use CalFresh as a means to reach self-sufficiency. A monthly supplement to a household’s food budget remains one of our nation’s most effective tools to help people struggling with hunger to become independent. 

Be an advocate for the hungry all year by understanding important basics of CalFresh:

  • Food Stamps 

The term “food stamps” is, unfortunately, surrounded by prejudice, myth and misinformation. It’s important to understand what “food stamps” actually are today. The modern iteration of food stamps, known as CalFresh in California and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) nationally, is simply a monthly supplement to a household’s food budget. There aren’t actually any stamps involved. The benefits are via a debit card, or EBT card, and can be spent on food at grocery stores and farmers markets. A CalFresh EBT card can only purchase groceries, it cannot buy alcohol, tobacco, toiletries or hot food items. In San Diego County, the average enrollment period in CalFresh is two years.

  • High Quality Control 

CalFresh/SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program. States must conduct regular quality control reviews of SNAP case files to ensure that benefits are accurately distributed. Ongoing improvements to the program have kept fraud to a historic low of less than 2 percent.

  • Hunger is expensive

A population of people struggling through periods of hunger has massive economic implications. Hunger leads to labor loss, impairment of cognitive and physical development of children, higher truancy and drop out rates in students, national security and community safety concerns and higher healthcare costs. These are estimated to add up to $167.5 billion per year. Charitable food distribution is many times more expensive than SNAP. Providing $4.38/day to supplement a household’s food budget and provide a path to self-sufficiency doesn’t just help the hungry; it’s an investment in our economy and future.