Same Day Service: A Better Way to Help Homeless with CalFresh

 Photo Credit: US Department of Agriculture

Photo Credit: US Department of Agriculture

CalFresh, a monthly supplement to a household or individual’s food budget, is one of the most effective tools we have to help people facing tough times access the food they need. But enrolling in CalFresh can be a complicated and long process, especially for homeless individuals without a mailing address or regular phone access. What if we could turn that complicated month-long process into a streamlined four-hour visit? San Diego Hunger Coalition, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and Feeding America San Diego worked together to make that dream a reality.

The new model makes same-day CalFresh service possible for the first time. Individuals are prescreened for CalFresh eligibility, guided through completing the application, and then a County Eligibility Worker conducts an interview immediately. Eligible individuals can walk in seeking assistance and leave the same day enrolled in CalFresh with the option to pick up their card at the closest County office. The Hunger Coalition is exploring how CalFresh EBT cards can be made available on the spot at community organizations, rather than requiring a person pick up their card at a County office. This would allow organizations that aren’t within walking distance of a County office to take advantage of this easier model. 

This successful project is being implemented by Feeding America San Diego at community centers across San Diego County. In less than a year, eight same-day service clinics have helped more than 50 homeless individuals access CalFresh. The pilot began at the Third Avenue Charitable Organization downtown and has now expanded to Pacific Beach United Methodist Church and Bread of Life in Oceanside. The County has been applauded for its execution of Same Day Service at the state and national level, and agencies nationwide are looking at how to implement this model in their locations.