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The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano: Contra Costa CalFresh Enrollment Expansion Partnership

Inadequate nutrition or unhealthy eating can cause or exacerbate a litany of health problems. Yet many families and individuals in underserved communities struggle to purchase the food necessary for meeting even their most basic nutritional needs.

The Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as "food stamps," tries to address this problem, but getting eligible individuals to enroll in SNAP has proved to be a challenge for many communities. In California, where SNAP is known as CalFresh, enrollment of eligible citizens languishes at approximately 55 percent. Worse, the California Food Policy Advocates say that Contra Costa County is only 37th of California's 58 counties, in terms of the ratio of eligible participants enrolled.

That's the motivation behind an innovative funding partnership among the John Muir/Mt. Diablo Community Health Fund (CHF) the Y&H Soda Foundation and the Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (CCCEHSD). Their joint effort will support the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano in an outreach program aimed at significantly increasing CalFresh enrollment in central and east Contra Costa County.

While the Y&H Soda Foundation's funding will support a portion of the salaries for two Food Bank CalFresh coordinators and iPads to help enroll people in the field, the CHF's one-year program support grant of $60,000 will enable the Food Bank to conduct a targeted, multi-faceted outreach campaign. The Food Bank expects the program will lead to:

  • A 20 percent increase in the number of CalFresh applications the Food Bank submits to CCCEHSD, from 1,064 in fiscal year 2013-2014 to 1,277 in 2014-2015.
  • An increase in the approval rate of CalFresh applications the Food Bank submits to CCCEHSD, from 30 percent to 50 percent.
  • A 100 percent increase in the number of approved applications from 319 to 638.
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