Magazine article Policy & Practice

Report Reveals County CalFresh Participation Rates

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Report Reveals County CalFresh Participation Rates

Article excerpt

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- The California Food Policy Advocates report that Santa Barbara is missing out on an estimated $47 million in federal benefits per year due to underutilization, despite an increased participation in food stamps, called CalFresh, over the course of the recession. The CFPA report states every dollar spent through CalFresh generates $1.79 in economic activity. Tia Shimada, nutrition policy advocate at CFPA and author of the report, states that Santa Barbara forgoes as much as $84 million in economic activity because of low participation in CalFresh.

Because only 36 percent of those eligible for food stamp benefits actually receive them, Santa Barbara currently ranks 44 out of 58 counties in terms of participation. Nationwide, California comes in second to last, just above Wyoming. For example, less than 10 percent of senior citizens statewide eligible for CalFresh benefits actually take advantage of them.

The CalFresh program in Santa Barbara County currently serves 20,000 residents, 60 percent of them children. Barriers to accessing these benefits, said Maria Gardner, assistant deputy director for social services in Santa Barbara, is what turns people off from applying. …

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