Home Start receives training and funding from San Diego Hunger Coalition to support its work to connect people in need to CalFresh food assistance. They partner with the San Diego State University Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs to provide CalFresh application assistance to food insecure students. Below is a story about one of their clients.
Meet Edward Yannaccone. Edward is relying on CalFresh while pursuing a degree at San Diego State University. CalFresh supplements his income so that he can use his financial aid to pay for things that support his education, like books and transportation to and from class, rather than groceries Having CalFresh reduces his stress and helps him maintain the focus and energy he needs to complete his dream of graduating from college.
When did you start receiving CalFresh?
My first semester at SDSU was fall of 2017 and I joined the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs and they had let us know that CalFresh was available to eligible students, so I applied and I was able to receive CalFresh. I've been on CalFresh for about five or six months.
How did CalFresh help you in your time of need?
I have a significant amount of student loans. I haven't worked since I started taking school seriously and I was in desperate need of any help I could get, financially or in any other way possible from any organization that was willing to help me. CalFresh has made buying groceries on a fairly regular basis significantly easier. It allows my food problems, for the most part, to be helped – because I don’t eat that much and the amount awarded is usually enough for me to live, month-to-month, without having to worry about starving or going to some more extreme measures.
How did receiving food assistance make you feel?
Good! I was super, super excited about it. My girlfriend and I both got accepted. It was great. It was one more thing I did not have to worry about so that I can focus on school. I’m 30 years old – so I’m a little late to the game. Getting approved for CalFresh was a huge deal to me.
How would you make ends meet without CalFresh?
Badly! I get student aid from the federal government and a little bit of state money, but really, I live very frugally. My life consists of mostly just going to school. The money that is given to me is used for books and stuff for school, such as transportation. CalFresh helped ease the food burden. I rent out a room out of a small, old house. I don’t have a whole lot of extra money at the end of the month. I was living month-to-month. CalFresh makes it a lot easier so I don’t have to continue putting myself in credit card debt.
What do you think some common misconceptions people have about CalFresh are?
I think one of the misconceptions is that it’s wrong to ask the government for help. I’m hoping that one day I’ll graduate and have the kind of money to give back what I received. Some people are really stubborn – they don’t want to have other people help them. But, I see it as I’m going to borrow for now, but one day I am going to give back and I am looking forward to that day. I look at it in a more positive light.
What are you most proud of in your life and what are your hopes for the future?
To be honest with you, I graduated high school in a charter school. I didn’t think I was ever going to go to college. I definitely didn’t think I would go to San Diego State. This is probably my proudest moment – right here – that I am in this school. Because up until to this point, I didn’t think I would be doing anything with my life. This is my one chance – I’m looking forward to doing something with it.
What do you want elected officials to know about food assistance like CalFresh?
It’s a great program. If you are eligible, I recommend getting help. The staff at the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs have been so helpful and Home Start has been so great, the whole program has been great. There are so many different businesses that work with you. It has made my life so much easier so that I don’t have to struggle. I’m going to have eggs, milk, and that kind of thing – CalFresh is so great. It’s just awesome. It's helping me out during a really hard time and I really appreciate it.
Do you know someone who needs access to CalFresh?