Five reasons we 💚 CalFresh

May is CalFresh Awareness Month. While you may know that CalFresh benefits help neighbors in need purchase food, there are so many more reasons for all of us to be grateful for this impactful hunger-fighting program

Read on for five reasons you’ll want to celebrate CalFresh all month long!

But first, a bit of background

CalFresh (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in other states) is a federally-funded program that helps low-income people put food on their tables. It also frees up some of the money neighbors need to budget for food, which can instead pay for other necessities such as rent, utilities, medication and everyday expenses. 

Money is disbursed through debit cards that can be used at most grocery and convenience stores, some websites and many farmers’ markets and farm stands. 

In Contra Costa and Solano counties, CalFresh/SNAP benefits go to almost 90,000 households, providing almost $30 million in funds per month (Department of Social Services, Jan. 2024).

Our bilingual CalFresh team helps many of our neighbors apply for and navigate their benefits each year. If you or someone you know has questions or needs support applying, learn more on our CalFresh page.

Perks of the program

1. It’s America’s #1 hunger fighter

For every one meal neighbors receive from a food bank, CalFresh benefits provide nine! The program makes a tremendous impact on fighting hunger – without it, the need for food banks and community support would be much, much higher than it is today.

2 . Calfresh helps our economy thrive

It’s one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus. Each dollar spent generates about $1.54 in economic activity, according to the Department of Agriculture. Money spent at local stores and farmers’ markets leads to more jobs and wages in the community. And since these funds free up money to purchase other household necessities, non-food-related businesses get a boost from the purchase of diapers, medicine, clothing and more.

3. Healthy food, happy farmers 

CalFresh recipients can receive extra money for fruits and vegetables by using Market Match, a program designed to reduce diet-related illnesses and support farming communities. When CalFresh shoppers spend $10-$15 of their benefits on fresh produce at one of our local participating farmers’ markets, they’ll receive an additional $10-$15 to spend!  

4. Better health for seniors

CalFresh benefits can result in reduced healthcare costs for seniors, who are more likely to take prescribed medicine when they receive funds for food. Not only does this mean fewer complications and hospitalizations, but also fewer nursing home admissions, less frequent visits to emergency rooms and more seniors living independently in their communities. 

5. Kids flourish

About 50,000 kids under age 18 utilize CalFresh benefits in Contra Costa and Solano Counties, preparing them for a brighter future. Research shows that proper nutrition will enhance their social and emotional well-being, improve their school performance and lower the risk of future chronic health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes.

CalFresh makes a difference. You can help us keep it strong

We’re advocating to protect and strengthen critical hunger-fighting programs like CalFresh, and we need YOU to help! Sign up for The Brief, our advocacy newsletter, to learn more about how you can support policies and programs that improve access to healthy food at the local, state and federal level – and work towards a hunger free future for us all.

Learn more about applying for CalFresh.