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.
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.