Food insecurity: LA County pushes for awareness of CalFresh program
With food insecurity at an all-time high in Los Angeles County according to a government report, the departments of Public Social Services and Public Health Wednesday launched the county’s annual CalFresh Awareness Month Campaign, hoping to make residents aware of the state program that provides financial assistance for low-income people or households to purchase food.
“What pains me most is all the people who are entitled to and need the services, don’t (know) about them,” LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said during a launch event at East Rancho Dominguez Park in Compton.
It came a day after the supervisors declared May as CalFresh Awareness Month and urged all residents to share information about the program with those who need it most.
CalFresh is California’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Wednesday’s outreach was one of several planned for May, officials said.
According to the county health department, over the past year, food insecurity hit an all-time high in LA County, with an estimated 873,000 households reporting they experienced at least one instance of the struggle.
A health department report said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity across all income levels, but has hit hardest in communities of color.
“These past two years have exposed many of the existing gaps in our food system which prevent access to affordable, healthy and nutritious food,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, the county health officer. “While many residents experienced food insecurity in the past year, low-income communities and communities of color continue to be disproportionately affected by this condition.
“We must continue to support nutrition assistance programs such as CalFresh and Market Match and embrace innovative programs and policies that can ensure nutritional security through a more equitable, sustainable and effective food system,” Davis continued.
Since May 2010, the CFAM campaign has collaborated on outreach with the health department and DPSS as well as all 88 cities of the county, college campuses, school districts, businesses and farmers markets, among others.
This year’s CFAM theme — CalFresh + Healthy foods and more — focuses on the other benefits of CalFresh, including free entry to local museums, discounts on utility bills and reduced fares on local transit.
For more information on the program, visit dpss.lacounty.gov/ or call 1-866-613-7777.