Guest post by Lindsay Johnson, Program Director at the Food Bank : Have you ever had to ask for help from the government? For many people, the idea of telling an official that they are having trouble providing enough food for their family is an embarrassment. They feel like a failure, forced into an uncomfortable position by circumstances beyond their control. They don’t know where to go to ask for help or that assistance is available.
At the Food Bank, we have two staff members who promote CalFresh, formerly the Food Stamp Program. They believe that participating in this nutritional benefit program (it is not welfare) is one of the ways that families can put a variety of healthy, fresh food on their tables. Barbara Stanley and Juan Orozco approach people at food distributions and health fairs to see if they might be eligible for CalFresh. When they find a person who is not already receiving CalFresh, they engage them in a long conversation to explain program eligibility and the benefits. If the person is interested and appears to be eligible, they may help them complete an application.
Barbara and Juan don’t stop there! They also explain the application process and help the person understand what kinds of questions they will be asked and why. You need to submit certain documents to verify your living situation. Barbara and Juan make sure that the client is clear about what documentation is acceptable. They explain the types of interviews (phone, face-to-face, group). They direct clients to the county office that serves the area of the county where the client lives. Barbara and Juan want to provide the client with as much information as they can to help the client on their way to a positive encounter and a successful CalFresh application.
Barbara and Juan continue to dialogue with the clients as they go through the application process. If the client has questions or concerns, or it seems to the Food Bank that something is happening at the county office that is unusual, they will follow up on behalf of the client with a phone call. Not everything goes smoothly with bureaucracy.
CalFresh Outreach activities provide support and encouragement for people who encounter barriers.
CalFresh brings federal dollars into local communities by giving people money to spend on food at the grocery store. The Food Bank is committed to supporting local economies, and this is one way we do it.
Learn more on our CalFresh page.