San Diego Hunger Coalition is Part of a Strong San Diego County Contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum

The San Diego County contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum. 

The San Diego County contingent at the 2018 CalFresh Forum. 

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.

California Assemblymember Todd Gloria with San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu. 

California Assemblymember Todd Gloria with San Diego Hunger Coalition Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy Amanda Schultz Brochu. 

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.

Afterschool Meals Through CACFP Help Ensure Low-Income Children Don't go to bed Hungry

Many children’s days don’t end when the last school bell rings. In fact, a report conducted by the Afterschool Alliance found that participation in afterschool programs has consistently increased over the past 10 years, rising by nearly 2 million children in the last five year years alone. The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program through the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is one of the most effective defenses in the fight against child hunger, as it provides the funding to serve suppers at eligible afterschool programs. Any program that provides child care and enrichment activities (e.g. tutoring, music lessons, arts and crafts, etc.) after school, on weekends, holidays, or breaks during the school year and operates in an area where 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals is eligible for CACFP.

Our goal is to raise awareness about this program and support our partners on the ground at schools and nonprofits across San Diego County with information, application assistance, grant writing, and administrative review to expand CACFP meal sites in our region.

Through our Hunger Free Kids Task Force, we have been able to connect Feeding San Diego with Vista Community Clinic to expand afterschool meals at the Clinic’s youth-serving Project REACH program at two different locations in Oceanside. At the Libby Lake Community Center, the Clinic’s physicians actively inform parents about the afterschool meals available just upstairs at the Project REACH offices, helping to promote both free meals and enrichment activities available to their children.

Additionally, Feeding San Diego serves as a sponsor to provide CACFP youth meals at North County Lifeline’s Las Casitas and La Escuelita’s Youth Development Clubs. These two sites serve afterschool suppers every weekday, totaling at least 150 meals each week, with the help of meal vendor Top Notch Catering. And because the funding grows as a program grows, their goal to consistently increase the number of meals served is made easily attainable because each meal is reimbursed through the United States Department of Agriculture at its fixed rate, with no devaluation or loss on behalf of the program.

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

While we are making promising strides with CACFP locally, No Kid Hungry and the School Nutrition Foundation have found a large gap in afterschool meals nationally. There are less than four afterschool suppers served for every hundred school lunches going to kids in need across the country.

Their “Three Meals a Day: A Win-Win-Win” report outlines the great need for afterschool meals:

CACFP_3 Meals A Day Graphic.png

CACFP has the means to address these needs through the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, and yet eligible programs are still not taking advantage of this viable solution. Many afterschool meal sites serve no meals or only a small snack. If they do provide food, it is often paid for out of the program’s general fund or the staff’s own dime, causing the program to miss out on valuable federal meal reimbursements.

Become a champion for youth meals in your area! Visit the Hunger Free Kids Task Force webpage or attend an upcoming meeting for more information. If you know of an afterschool program that may be eligible for CACFP, please contact our Hunger Free Kids Program Director Robin McNulty at Robin@sdhunger.org.

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.

Hunger Free Kids Convening Brings Together Experts in Child Nutrition, Hunger Relief, and Policy Solutions

Attendees, presenters, and panelists gather at the Hunger Free Kids convening on November 1, 2017 at Leichtag Commons.

Attendees, presenters, and panelists gather at the Hunger Free Kids convening on November 1, 2017 at Leichtag Commons.

Many afterschool programs serve a snack to keep children focused and engaged in active learning and play. Yet for many children, a snack is simply not enough. Afterschool “supper” is a meal like lunch that can help ensure all children don’t go to bed hungry. However, San Diego Hunger Coalition’s analysis found that only 9% of students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Meal program at school are participating in afterschool programs that serve supper. This is one opportunity to feed more children and youth without raising money to spend on food.

Opportunities for schools and youth-serving community-based organizations to expand their meal programs like afterschool suppers and tap into federal funds to support more robust programs are at the heart of the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s soon-to-be released report - Hunger Free Kids: Opportunities by District to End Child Hunger. The Hunger Coalition partnered with Alliance Healthcare Foundation as part of its iEngageU series to bring together experts in child nutrition, hunger relief, and policy solutions along with parents and other advocates for a convening on November 1st at Leichtag Commons, to preview of the report’s findings.

Presenters at the convening included keynote speaker Kathy Saile, California Director of No Kid Hungry, as well as:

The week following the Hunger Free Kids convening, our Executive Director Anahid Brakke, Research Director Heidi Gjertsen, Ph.D., and Hunger Free Kids Program Director Robin McNulty represented San Diego at the Alliance to End Hunger's 2017 national Sunshine Summit to End Hunger where they presented on the report's findings and how to start a hunger free initiative in other communities.

The full report will be released at the end of January. Sign-up to receive a link to where you can download a copy of the report when it is available. The report methodology and data on the school districts presented at the November 1st convening is available on our Hunger Free Kids Report webpage

HAN Lobbies for Anti-Hunger Policies in Sacramento while Hunger Free Activists Advocate from Home as Part of Digital Lobby Day

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network between meetings with San Diego representatives at the State Capitol.

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network between meetings with San Diego representatives at the State Capitol.

Members of the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN) led by our Director of Policy and Advocacy Diane Wilkinson descended on the state capitol on May 17 to support anti-hunger policies that impact families struggling to put food on the table in San Diego County. Joining Diane was Ashley Harrington, Manager of Public Affairs and Young Adult Initiatives at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Kelcey Ellis, Director of Programs at Feeding San Diego, Gabriela Arias, Resident Services Coordinator at Housing on Merit, and Nina Ghatan, Coordinator of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative at Community Health Improvement Partners. They shared their expertise with San Diego's representatives to demonstrate our region's problem with food insecurity and the positive impact anti-hunger legislation would have on hundreds of thousands of low-income San Diegans.

This year, HAN offered an innovative way for constituents who couldn’t travel to Sacramento to use their online voice to support statewide anti-hunger policies. HAN's Digital Lobby Day was the initial advocacy effort of the group’s Hunger Free Activist grassroots network. Leading up to Digital Lobby Day, Activists were sent information on how to contact their representative on social media as well as templates and memes to help create posts and tweets in support of HAN's priority state policies. The online support generated during Digital Lobby Day helped amplify and strengthen the presence of San Diego’s anti-hunger community.

While in Sacramento, HAN members met with Assemblymember Rocky Chavez and with the staffs of Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator Ben Hueso, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, and Assemblymember Shirley Weber. HAN’s discussions with representatives focused on the San Diego Hunger Coalition's latest food insecurity data and gaining support for the Network’s 2017 state priority policy initiatives:

  • SB 138 (McGuire) - Feed the Kids:  This legislation would automatically enroll low-income children on Medi-Cal in free school meals and calls upon very high poverty schools to offer free school meals to all students.
     
  • AB 214 (Weber) – College Hunger:  This legislation would address college student hunger by defining terms used in the CalFresh program to determine eligibility and clarifying the law concerning CalFresh Restaurant Meal Program on college campuses.
     
  • AB 1219 (Eggman) – Good Samaritan Food Donation Act:  This legislation clarifies and expands existing liability protections for organizations that provide, receive and distribute donated food to reduce waste and increase resources to feed more struggling San Diegans.
     
  • AB 164 (Arambula) – California Leads to Meet Food Needs:  This legislation would establish a new state funded anti-hunger CalFresh benefit to be issued using the EBT system during disasters such as drought and in the case of federal SNAP ineligibility.
     
  • AB 607 (Gloria) - Community Resiliency & Disaster Preparedness Act of 2017:  This legislation would protect against increased hunger and hardship among low-income families by requiring the CalFresh program to maximize replacement benefit options during a disaster or power-outage and provide additional budget in the case of a disaster declared by the Governor to improve the success of a federal request for disaster anti-hunger aid.

The following week on May 24, Diane was back in Sacramento representing HAN alongside more than 200 anti-hunger advocates from cities and communities across California as part of Hunger Action Day. This time she met with the staffs of Senator Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

As the food security safety net continues to come under threat at the federal level, it is more important than ever to strengthen our state’s support for policies and programs that help San Diegans have enough food for a healthy active life. Learn more and sign up to be a Hunger Free Activist here. By doing so you'll receive periodic opportunities to use your voice to advocate for anti-hunger legislation so you can tailor your level of engagement.

Oceanside kicks-off FREE Summer Meals & Feeds Hundreds of People With Two Community BBQs

Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery fills out a paper plate urging state representatives to adopt anti-hunger policies.

Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery fills out a paper plate urging state representatives to adopt anti-hunger policies.

Hunger doesn’t take a vacation when school meals aren’t available leaving many low-income children to go without regular meals when school lets out for the summer. Summer meals help fill this gap and keep children fed all year long. The City of Oceanside and Oceanside Unified School District kicked off their free summer meals program with two family-friendly barbecue events organized by the San Diego Hunger Coalition. Thanks to these events, which featured a resource fair and fun activities for the children, many families learned about the summer meal program for the first time.  More than 500 meals were distributed to low-income families at each event. 

The barbecues took place on Thursday, June 22nd at Balderrama Park and Thursday, June 29th at Libby Lake Park and were part of a collaborative effort to expand participation at existing out-of-school meal sites and launch new sites in the city funded by a grant written by the San Diego Hunger Coalition with the City of Oceanside resulting in a $20,000 award from the National League of Cities, Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS). A sponsorship from Mission Federal Credit Union helped to feed the parents and adult siblings of the children in attendance so that everyone could enjoy the grilled organic chicken as well as the fresh squash and corn from the Oceanside Unified School District's Nutrition Services garden. Additionally, Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank handed out bags of fresh produce for families to take home.

The event brought families together from different neighborhoods, many crossing through gang-territory to attend. The City of Oceanside has been working to reclaim the parks as spaces for community building in areas that have struggled with gang activity. The threat of violence at these spaces often keeps families from attending summer meal programs.

In addition to food and fun, the barbecues offered families the opportunity to make their voice heard and support anti-hunger policies. San Diego Hunger Coalition provided paper plates with questions about hunger including: “What would happen if your CalFresh benefits were cut?” and “What would you like your elected officials to know about hunger?” The Hunger Coalition collects these paper plate messages at summer meal sites and mails them to San Diego’s representatives to help advocate for federal and state anti-hunger policies that affect local families.

There are more than 220 FREE summer meal sites in San Diego County. To find a summer meal site near you text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877 or call 2-1-1. No registration or sign-up is required.