Congratulations to our 2017 CalFresh Award Winners

The collaborative power of the CalFresh Task Force is fueled by the passion and innovation of its members.  The annual CalFresh Task Force Awards honor individuals and organizations making major strides toward ending hunger in San Diego County. Awardees are nominated and voted for by Task Force members.

CalFresh Outreach Partner of the Year – Legal Aid Society of San Diego

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Laura Zuniga-Huizar of Legal Aid Society of San Diego with the CalFresh Outreach Partner of the Year award. Laura accepted   the award on behalf of her colleague Tila Nunn-Miller.

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Laura Zuniga-Huizar of Legal Aid Society of San Diego with the CalFresh Outreach Partner of the Year award. Laura accepted the award on behalf of her colleague Tila Nunn-Miller.

Tila Nunn-Miller of Legal Aid Society of San Diego is a phenomenal advocate for individuals who encounter difficulties navigating the CalFresh process. Through her work, Tila ensures all parties understand the process, rules, and regulations that govern CalFresh benefits. Tila is a social justice champion who prides herself on assisting others and gives her all to assist anyone with CalFresh, CalWORKS, General Relief, and CAPI questions. While Tila was unable to attend the end of the year CalFresh Task Force meeting where the awards were presented, her colleague Laura Zuniga-Huizar (pictured above) accepted the award on her behalf.

CalFresh County Liaison of the Year – Michael and Patrick Schmidt, Program Specialists

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Patrick Schmidt with the CalFresh County Liaison of the Year award. Patrick also accepted the award on behalf of Michael Schmidt who was unable to attend the CalFresh end of year meeting.

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Patrick Schmidt with the CalFresh County Liaison of the Year award. Patrick also accepted the award on behalf of Michael Schmidt who was unable to attend the CalFresh end of year meeting.

Michael and Patrick Schmidt support community-based organizations’ work to ensure eligible residents are awarded CalFresh benefits through their work managing the County of San Diego HHSA’s new case issue escalation email. Created in conjunction with the San Diego Hunger Coalition, the HHSA escalation email allows community organizations to elevate challenging cases to a team of experts for additional investigation and support. Michael and Patrick’s team provides quick and thorough customer service which allows for a prompt resolution to any case issues partners may experience. Community partners reported, “clients have provided great feedback from their interactions working with both Michael and Patrick and expressed feeling like their concerns are properly addressed.” Michael was unable to attend the end of year CalFresh Task Force meeting, Patrick (pictured above) accepted the award on both of their behalves.

CalFresh Outreach Partner & County Collaboration – La Maestra Community Health Centers, Health Coverage Access, and EOPS Department at Southwestern College

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu   presents Daniela Cervantes of La Maestra Community Health Centers and Monica Moreno of Health Coverage Access with the CalFresh Outreach Partner and County Collaboration award.  

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Daniela Cervantes of La Maestra Community Health Centers and Monica Moreno of Health Coverage Access with the CalFresh Outreach Partner and County Collaboration award. 

Starting in the fall of 2016, La Maestra Community Health Centers began working with the Southwestern College’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) Department and Health Coverage Access (HCA) to provide same-day-service CalFresh application assistance on campus. La Maestra reported, “this new partnership has made it easier to connect likely eligible students participating in EOPS with CalFresh benefits by providing onsite support and simplifying the application process.” The Hunger Coalition is happy to have facilitated this partnership, resulting in ongoing efforts to connect eligible students to benefits, including seven same-day-service events on campus last academic year.

CalFresh Outreach Partner & Community Collaboration – Feeding San Diego and the EOPS Department at San Diego City College

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Rachel Oporto of Feeding San Diego and Salem Berhanu and Mercedes Tiggs of San Diego City College with the CalFresh award for Outreach Partner and Community Collaboration.

San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy, Amanda Schultz Brochu presents Rachel Oporto of Feeding San Diego and Salem Berhanu and Mercedes Tiggs of San Diego City College with the CalFresh award for Outreach Partner and Community Collaboration.

After meeting at a CalFresh Task Force meeting, San Diego City College’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) Department and Feeding San Diego partnered to provide CalFresh application assistance on campus, and are going strong! The EOPS team has worked diligently to make it easier for students to successfully access benefits, collaborating with their financial aid department to help students successfully obtain necessary forms, and always keeping an open door for students to come ask questions about their case. Currently, Feeding San Diego is onsite on a monthly basis and is working with the EOPS team to partner with the Disability Support Programs and Services department and Mental Health department to further expand CalFresh outreach.

CalFresh Task Force Aims to Connect Hard to Reach Populations: College Students and Immigrant Families in 2017 Priorities

Low-income college students and immigrant families are the two food insecure populations the San Diego Hunger Coalition's CalFresh Task Force's is focused on connecting to the program in 2017.

The current administration’s stance on immigration has created fear and confusion among low-income immigrant families causing many to forgo accessing food assistance. Partners shared that immigrants (mixed status households and legal permanent residents) have expressed more concerns about CalFresh negatively impacting their immigration status. Together with our partners we are working to provide immigrant families and the public with accurate information and resources while also collaborating on ways to adapt and evolve programming to meet the needs of this portion of our community. At the Task Force’s regional meeting in May the Hunger Coalition welcomed David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Itzel Guillen, Human Rights Organizer for Alliance San Diego who shared their expertise on the rights of immigrant families when it comes to accessing food assistance.

David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties presents on the rights of immigrant families and accessing food assistance at the May CalFresh Task Force regional meeting.

David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties presents on the rights of immigrant families and accessing food assistance at the May CalFresh Task Force regional meeting.

The Task Force's work with college students stems from recent state program updates clarifying and expanding college student CalFresh eligibility and from recent studies that indicate high prevalence of food insecurity among college students. A recent report from the University of Wisconsin shows that two thirds of community college students are food insecure.

The Task Force’s is also focused on improving the CalFresh application process. This year’s process priorities stem from challenges San Diego residents reported to local community partners while trying to access CalFresh benefits. These priorities aim to make the application process easier by improving two of the top three reasons why otherwise eligible applicants are denied benefits: the ability to complete the required CalFresh interview and the ability to easily submit necessary verification documents. After receiving in-depth feedback on these issues from the CalFresh Task Force partners, the Hunger Coalition is working closely with the San Diego County Health and Human Service Agency (HHSA) to identify opportunities to improve internal County processes to resolve the issues identified and further streamline the application process.

As the facilitator of the CalFresh Task Force, the Hunger Coalition will support work to outreach to college students and immigrant families by bringing organization representatives from these populations together with members of the Task Force and the County of San Diego HHSA to collaborate on ways to more effectively connect people in need to food assistance and to ensure these partners have a consistent understanding of eligibility regulations. By bringing external partners to the table with CalFresh application assistance agencies and County HHSA representatives, stronger partnerships with unique perspectives can develop. The Hunger Coalition provides support and expertise in external meetings to develop new or tailored strategies to meet the needs of specific populations. Once partnerships are established, organizations are invited to report back to the CalFresh Task Force regarding their progress, lessons learned and best practices.

At the end of the year, the Task Force will recap the progress made to provide direct application assistance to this year’s priority populations.

A Year in Review: Changing Lives with CalFresh

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

Now, we’re sharing our favorite 2016 wins with you. Thanks to your support, we:

  1. Led San Diego County to integrate food security resources like CalFresh into healthcare settings with Rx for CalFresh.
  2. Trained 383 staff, volunteers and interns to provide CalFresh application assistance at 25 partner agencies across San Diego County.
  3. Worked with CalFresh application assistance partners to help more than 10,000 households access nearly $17 million worth of food.
  4. Helped more than 200 people access food assistance by resolving technical issues with their CalFresh applications.
  5. Promoted CalFresh application assistance to college students through successful legislation (AB 1747 Weber).
  6. Connected community college students with CalFresh applications assistance through five new partnerships.
  7. Collaborated with senior-serving community organizations to engage more seniors in accessing CalFresh.
  8. Streamlined the CalFresh application process by working with the County Health and Human Services Agency to expand programs like Same Day Service across the county.
  9. Directed more than $200,000 to local nonprofits helping low-income individuals and families apply for CalFresh, as a contractor for the state CalFresh Outreach Program.

In 2017, it’s clear we have our work cut out for us. Our partners on the ground know how great the need for food assistance is, but the next administration has set its sights on dismantling and weakening programs like CalFresh. It will take all of us, raising our voices and telling our stories, to build on the progress we have made together.

We’re thankful for your contributions to make sure no one in San Diego County has to go hungry. This year, we look forward to working with you to continue making these stories heard

Congratulations to Our 2016 CalFresh Task Force Award Winners

The collaborative power of the CalFresh Task Force is fueled by the passion and innovation of its members.  The annual CalFresh Task Force Awards honor individuals and organizations making major strides toward ending hunger in San Diego County. Awardees are nominated and selected by Task Force members.

CalFresh Outreach Partner of the Year

The Enrollment Center Navigators at 2-1-1 San Diego

Can a team of four bring food to 1,083 households in need in less than a year? Yes, if they’re the CalFresh rockstars of the Enrollment Center Navigators at 2-1-1 San Diego. Not only did the Enrollment Center Navigators bring an ongoing benefit of $92,376 worth of food to San Diegans struggling with food insecurity, but they did it for households who were previously denied CalFresh or had barriers to completing their applications. Since January 2016, they have leveraged technology like text messages to transform 540 cases at risk of denial into 540 households approved for the CalFresh benefits they need to put food on the dinner table each night.  

CalFresh County Liaison of the Year

Mat Brown, Access/Access 2Health- Central and South Region

Food insecurity doesn’t end with a single, approved CalFresh application. Households must complete a Semi-Annual Report (SAR 7) midway through their certification period in order to maintain their benefits. Unfortunately, lack of access to food often goes hand-in-hand with lack of access to other basics like computers, mail and transportation. These basics are often necessities for completing the forms needed to maintain access to CalFresh benefits. But Mat Brown’s leadership and ingenuity is changing that.

Brown has overseen the County of San Diego's telephonic Semi-Annual Report (SAR 7) pilot, which allows CalFresh beneficiaries to complete their SAR 7 over the telephone. The impact of this program has been immediate and powerful, allowing households who lack access to computers, mail services or transportation maintain access to the food they need. In just the first three months, the pilot program has helped 1,760 households maintain stable access to food. As word spreads through the County, more people use the program successfully each month.

CalFresh Outreach Partner & County Collaboration of the Year

The Partnership of Health Coverage Access and Feeding San Diego

Applying for public assistance is a stigmatized, complicated process, but the passion and leadership of Health Coverage Access and Feeding San Diego is changing that. The two organizations have partnered to lead workshops that demystify and destigmatize services like CalFresh so that more families can access the solutions they need. Feeding San Diego and Health Coverage Access bring same day services to unique populations. This year they have worked on providing outreach for the homeless and they will expand to provide outreach at school sites in 2017. Health Coverage Access staff go above and beyond to offer as many interviews as they can down to the last minute, often staying past the scheduled time and assisting clients with complicated cases. They are are always willing to take the time to look up a client’s information to help make their situation a little more clear. 

Dominic Camplisson, Tony Morris and many other staff are using new, school-style formats to bring more help and information to more families. San Diego Hunger Coalition and its CalFresh Task Force look forward to expanding this successful model in 2017 to reach even more community members.

CalFresh Outreach Partner & Community Collaboration of the Year

The Partnership of Sharp Grossmont Hospital, 2-1-1 San Diego and Feeding San Diego

Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Care Transitions Intervention (CTI) knows that access to food and good health are inextricably linked. Through a partnership with 2-1-1 San Diego and Feeding San Diego, Sharp Grossmont is leading the new frontier of hunger and healthcare solutions. After identifying food insecure patients through a new screening process, Sharp Grossmont can both refer households to CalFresh application assistance through 2-1-1 San Diego and provide medically-tailored, non-perishable food boxes produced by Feeding San Diego. Partnerships like this are leading San Diego County and the nation in holistic healthcare systems and healthy community building.

Connecting College Students to CalFresh

Photo courtesy of Miramar College

Photo courtesy of Miramar College

Higher education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty. However, the rising cost of education has made getting a college degree extremely difficult for people with limited resources. Making sure that students can meet their basic needs, like food and housing, can help them succeed.  

This year, there has been a greater focus on the issue of food insecurity among college students with the release of a new study that showed that half of all community college students are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity. Another study found that four in 10 University of California students do not have a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food. 

The California Department of Social Services is working with advocates across California to make it easier for eligible low-income students to receive CalFresh. At San Diego Hunger Coalition, we are working to address hunger among college students on a local level.

Wins for College Students from the CalFresh Task Force

Over the last six months, CalFresh Task Force members have created new solutions for connecting college students to food resources, beginning with CalFresh, a monthly food budget supplement. Representatives from San Diego State University’s Student Disability Services Department and San Diego City College’s Extended Opportunity Program Services (EOPS) attended our last countywide meeting on September 1, 2016, and the group discussed ways to reach students who may be struggling with hunger and may be eligible for CalFresh. 

Three Recent Successes from the CalFresh Task Force:

1.    Five new partnerships now connect San Diego County community colleges with organizations that help students access CalFresh:

  • Miramar College and San Diego Food Bank
  • San Diego Mesa College and 211 San Diego 
  • San Diego City College and Feeding San Diego
  • Mira Costa College and Feeding San Diego
  • Southwestern College and La Maestra Health Center

2.    Now, local colleges have new outreach and application assistance models, including guidance for onsite CalFresh enrollment, thanks to collaboration between community college representatives and CalFresh application assistance organizations. 

3.    Colleges interested in opening food pantries on campus have more resources to help them get started.

What’s next?

The Hunger Coalition’s work to connect college students to food assistance continues. As these new partnerships develop, we will also move forward with our work to simplify the process for college students with disabilities to access CalFresh. In addition, we’ll work with college campus retailers to allow students to use their CalFresh benefits to purchase meals on campus using an EBT card.

Hunger Coalition works with CalFresh Task Force to increase participation in food stamps among legal permanent residents

Hunger Coalition works with CalFresh Task Force to increase participation in food stamps among legal permanent residents

At the last CalFresh Task Force quarterly meeting, The San Diego Hunger Coalition brought together U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and immigration advocates to talk with CalFresh Task Force members about ways to increase CalFresh participation among legal permanent residents.

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