One month later: What we’ve heard since the end of Emergency Allotments

CalFresh outreach coordinator

Sometimes, neighbors will call Bryan Espinoza just to tell him about their grocery shopping. 

“They’re like ‘yeah, I just bought some coffee beans. I was able to buy a whole bag of produce,’” says Espinoza. “I get calls that are just about the excitement, just ‘I wanted to tell you I got this, this and this.’”

As a member of the Food Bank’s CalFresh outreach team, Bryan helps neighbors apply for CalFresh – monthly benefits which can be used to purchase groceries when money is tight (outside of California, CalFresh is known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). 

For neighbors on a limited income, these benefits can make a huge difference to a household budget. But, since the CalFresh Emergency Allotments expired this spring, Bryan and fellow outreach coordinator Jeanette Orta are getting more calls from neighbors whose benefits aren’t providing the lift that they used to.

While the Emergency Allotments were in effect, a single person qualified for at least $218 in benefits. Now, they may qualify for as little as $23. As a result, many of our neighbors are once again struggling to put food on their tables.

“$23 is not going to help me”

We’ve all felt the impact of high food prices over the past year – and food prices are barely budging. For neighbors now facing high prices
and reduced grocery budgets, this can mean going without or turning to Food Bank programs, sometimes for the first time. 

Bryan recalls one neighbor who recently called wondering why he had only received $23 for the month.

“I had to explain to him that the Emergency Allotments ended, and you could tell he was just sad about it,” he says. “He was like, ‘okay, well, can you send me a list of grocery distributions because I really need groceries right now. $23 is not going to help me.’”

Jeanette said she’s having similar conversations. She’s also worried about senior neighbors and those who can’t leave home – two groups who can struggle with getting to food distributions, and who may have limited options to increase their household budgets. 

“People are hungry, people are going without, people are not paying their bills,” she says. 

Helping people, helping farmers, helping the economy

Though this cut to CalFresh has been devastating for many of our neighbors, Bryan and Jeanette emphasize that this program is still hugely beneficial for individuals and our community at large. 

Jeanette notes that programs like Market Match, which let CalFresh recipients purchase double the fruits and vegetables at Farmers’ Markets, can increase sales for small and local farmers. The extra grocery money provided by CalFresh also frees up households to make other essential purchases, including medications and diapers. In Contra Costa and Solano Counties, it’s estimated that CalFresh directly contributes $189 million to our local economies – helping to keep local businesses profitable and creating jobs all through our food system. 

And the nutrition CalFresh provides makes a big difference to household health. Studies show CalFresh recipients incur $1,400 less in health costs per year than eligible residents who do not get benefits 

“It puts food on the table. It gives people the power to choose,” Jeanette says. “So it helps them, it helps farmers, it helps the community.”

That’s why the Food Bank is advocating for long-term solutions to strengthen CalFresh. As part of our 2023 Legislative Agenda we’re supporting a number of bills that would improve or expand these benefits, including:


We knew that the end of Emergency Allotments would bring new faces to our programs, and that’s already proving true. This increase in need comes as we are already serving more than 350,000 neighbors each month – double the number we served prior to the pandemic. 

We are committed to continuing to be there for all our neighbors, but your support is critical. A monthly, or one-time donation will ensure our community has a necessary safety net when it’s needed most.