Become an Activist for a Hunger Free San Diego – and Help Put Food on the Table

We are building on the Hunger Advocacy Network's four major policy victories from last year. In 2017, we’re providing more opportunities for you to join us. We invite all members of our community to participate in large-scale systems change to improve food assistance. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead

We are calling on you become an Activist for a Hunger Free San Diego. Sign up for email action alerts to stay up-to-date about how to strengthen access to food resources. As a Hunger Free Activist, you will:

  • Stay up-to-date on issues of importance to our community
  • Receive a variety of options for participation so you can decide your level of engagement.
  • Access the information and tools you need to be effective – from specialized advocacy training to talking points.
  • Enjoy privacy. We will not share your name or information with anyone outside our organization without specifically asking for permission.

Your voice can make a real difference in the lives of everyday San Diegans struggling to feed their families. Please sign up here today. Then share that you are a Hunger Free Activist on social media. (Facebook / Twitter

Celebrating 2016 Victories for Hunger Relief

In 2016, the Hunger Advocacy Network channeled expertise and support from member organizations to support important State legislation. From direct lobbying to education, we helped secure success for key bills and budget asks to ensure that all people in San Diego have access to enough food for an active, healthy life.  With advocacy, we can influence public policies, programs and funding to help more people access the food they need. After reading about last year’s successes, we hope you’ll sign up to become an Advocate for a Hunger Free San Diego.

Together, we leveraged our collective voices to achieve the following success for our community:

  • Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit – This initiative will extend and increase incentives to allow for donations of fresh produce to food banks throughout the state.
  • Food Assistance for Higher Education – Establishes the Public Higher Education Pantry Assistance Program for supporting an on-campus food pantry and hunger relief efforts for low-income students.
  • Breakfast After the Bell - $2 million in funding to expand access and participation in the school breakfast program.
  • Nutrition Incentives Funding - $5 million in State funding - that will be matched by Federal funding - to strengthen the Market Match program that makes fresh fruit and vegetables more affordable for low-income families.

With advocacy, we can influence public policies, programs and funding to help more people access the food they need. While we celebrate the important successes of 2016, we must proactively expanding our reach and partnerships to protect the gains we’ve made.

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.

SDHC Receives Grant to Increase Access to Healthy Food for Head Start Families

The San Diego Hunger Coalition (SDHC) works to identify and address systemic barriers to participation in CalFresh, and we have a special focus on vulnerable populations not being successfully reached through existing outreach efforts. Though Head Start families are almost 100% eligible for CalFresh, only 40% are enrolled countywide.

With a $10,000 grant from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, San Diego, SDHC is launching a new program to connect Head Start families to CalFresh benefits and nutrition education. We are developing a new outreach program tailored for Head Start providers, and our partners on this initial pilot will be Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Head Start and 2-1-1 San Diego.  AKA Head Start serves over 1,500 very low-income three- to five-year-olds at 13 centers in East San Diego County. 

When asked why they have not applied for CalFresh benefits, AKA Head Start families have reported they do not understand eligibility guidelines, need help applying, and/or fear cultural stigma or adverse effects on family immigration status.  Our program will: (1) train Head Start staff on CalFresh application assistance; (2) pair AKA with 2-1-1 for the final stages of CalFresh enrollment through their telephone service; and (3) match the Head Start provider with one or more agencies providing nutrition education. 

We anticipate this will increase the food purchasing power of at least 350 AKA Head Start families by an average of $150 per month through CalFresh enrollment. Other expected outcomes are increased knowledge and motivation to purchase and prepare healthy foods and a decrease in the overall rate of overweight or obesity among AKA Head Start children by 5% during the 2015/2016 school year. 

This pilot project will be self-sustaining, because we are increasing the capacity of AKA Head Start through training, arranging what will be ongoing partnerships, and working with AKA to incorporate the program into organizational protocols.  AKA, 2-1-1, and nutrition educators are all funded by federal, state, and county programs for their elements of the program. The long-term strategy is to scale up the program model developed through this pilot with Head Start providers countywide.