County Launches Campaign to Help Hungry Get Access To Food Stamps

Only half of those eligible for help from ‘CalFresh’ have applied.

By City New Service

Los Angeles County Tuesday launched a campaign to reduce hunger and increase access to food assistance.

“In this great county of ours, there are still children that are going to sleep hungry at night,” Department of Public Social Services Acting Director Sheryl Spiller said in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors.

The number of American homes without enough food more than tripled in the last four years, and a record high number of individuals in Los Angeles County are getting aid — more than 1 million or roughly 10 percent of the population, she said.

But the county estimates that only about half of those eligible for the county’s food assistance program — CalFresh, formerly called food stamps — are receiving help. The county hopes to reach more of those in need with a month-long series of events and declared May “CalFresh Awareness Month.”

Lower-income communities are also at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and other diseases, so the county has enlisted the help of local supermarkets, farmers’ markets, food banks and school districts to promote healthier food choices and more exercise.

“Hunger is an issue that affects us all, and this collaboration represents an intense effort to serve those most vulnerable in Los Angeles County, particularly during this tough economic time,” Spiller said.

CalFresh benefits vary depending on need, but a family of four making less than $2,422 per month can receive up to $668 of food assistance.

Applications are processed within 30 days and in emergency situations — such as a family making less than $150 per month — households may receive CalFresh benefits within three days. Benefits are transferred via an electronic card that can be used instead of cash at the grocery store.

“One of the highest priorities of the Department of Public Social Services is to reduce hunger,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

More information on CalFresh benefits can be found at http://dpss.lacounty.gov or by calling a health and nutrition hotline at (877) 597-4777. Applications are available at www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov.

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May 3, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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