Forum highlights CalFresh program

WATSONVILLE — The CalFresh Forum took place Friday at the Watsonville Civic Plaza.

Organized by Second Harvest Food Bank and Santa Cruz County Human Services Department, the forum featured experts, outreach workers, community supporters, and elected officials from the tri-county area (Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties) sharing how CalFresh fights hunger and malnutrition locally and helping community organizations increase participation in this program.

CalFresh helps low-income households meet their food and nutrition needs, yet California has one of the lowest participation rates in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal program), according to Second Harvest. In Santa Cruz County, about 45,000 county residents qualify, yet only 57 percent of them participate in the program. Statewide, about 67 percent of eligible people are enrolled.

(Photo by Chris Ryan/Second Harvest Food Bank)

“When CalFresh recipients purchase food in markets and grocery stores, it begins a chain reaction of economic activity, from grocers to farmers, distributors, workers, vendors and more,” said Joel Campos, Second Harvest’s director of community outreach. “If everyone who is qualified (but not currently enrolled) signed up for CalFresh, Santa Cruz County would enjoy an extra estimated $50 million in economic benefits.”

Kim McCoy-Wade from the California Department of Social Services presented the keynote speech, and State Senator Bill Monning was the featured speaker. Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at the Western Center on Law & Poverty, presented the “Changing Immigration Climate.”


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