We will end hunger in San Diego County by working together. Led by the San Diego Hunger Coalition, the CalFresh Task Force brings more than 50 diverse organizations together from across the county to better serve the needs of San Diegans facing hunger.
In 2015, we saw better collaboration, better use of technology and better communication strategies—all of which yielded major progress in our mission to give more San Diegans access to a path out of hunger to self-sufficiency.
The CalFresh Task Force made progress on all five of its primary goals for 2015:
1. Client Follow Up and Advocacy Strategies
CalFresh Task Force’s monthly regional meetings created better client advocacy strategies and solved a number of specific case issues. Responding to concerns raised by community partners, the CalFresh Task Force invited the Health and Human Services’ ACCESS Call Center to present and engage in discussions with community partners about how to better help clients successfully meet application requirements. The Task Force also equipped its partners with the knowledge and tools needed to guide clients through new CalFresh application changes such as income reporting thresholds, cost of living adjustments and a new recertification form.
2. Better Serving Special Populations
Populations such as seniors and immigrants each have unique barriers to food. In 2015, we shortened the path between these populations and the food they need for an active and healthy life.
- San Diego Hunger Coalition helped pass legislation that reduces barriers to food security for individuals with previous drug felonies. We also worked to make sure that the new legislation was correctly implemented. The CalFresh Task Force partnered with state level partners to create new outreach materials for newly eligible individuals.
- Immigrant families face extra challenges because of language barriers, lack of awareness of food benefits and their eligibility, and misinformation surrounding immigration law. The Hunger Coalition and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services assisted our 50+ CalFresh Task Force member organizations with guidance on how to best serve the diverse immigrant population of San Diego County.
- Thanks to our ongoing partnership with the County of San Diego’s Aging and Independence Services Department, the CalFresh Task Force and San Diego’s senior-serving organizations are better connected in order to enroll low-income seniors in CalFresh. More good news on this coming in 2016!
3. Ensuring San Diegans Don’t Lose Access To Food Assistance
CalFresh recipients have to submit new paperwork to maintain their benefits every six months, and many San Diegans struggle with hunger because they miss report deadlines. To better reach San Diegans at risk of losing their benefits due to the complex reporting process, CalFresh Task Force worked with partners to map the process and brainstorm strategies to help clients. In addition, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency launched a text message reminder system to reach San Diegans due for reapplication.
4. Better Technology and Collaboration
In 2014, CalFresh Task Force members came together to improve the County’s online CalFresh application tools (mybenefitscalwin.org), streamlining the process so that more San Diegans could get access to the food they need. In 2015, we’re proud to announce that the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency paid for and implemented many of the updates recommended. The technology supporting the CalFresh application process is now more efficient, effective and able to better serve San Diegans in need.
5. Sharing Best Practices and Opportunities
San Diego Hunger Coalition’s new CalFresh online resources offer CalFresh Task Force members better access to the tools and up-to-date information they need to better serve their clients. Monthly CalFresh Task Force meetings in each region offered opportunities for member organizations to collaborate on specific challenges, such as verification of applicant income, which we learned was difficult for many partners. This led to the Hunger Coalition working with HHSA to develop a new CalFresh income verification fact sheet. A simple solution that saves everyone time.
Looking Toward 2016
We’re looking forward to building upon our progress in 2015 to make more strides toward ending hunger in San Diego County. CalFresh Task Force partners have identified the following areas of focus for 2016:
- Better service to students, seniors and immigrants
- Continue building a more streamlined CalFresh application process so it’s not a barrier to San Diegans receiving the food assistance they need
The CalFresh Task Force will finalize 2016 goals in January regional meetings.