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SD lags in food-assistance enrollment

County ranks 42nd out of 58 counties in the state

Despite repeated criticism and refutation by local government officials, a report released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that San Diego still lags well behind the state and nation in enrolling eligible low-income houses in CalFresh, California's version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, still commonly referred to as "food stamps."

San Diego landed in a six-way tie for 42nd out of 58 counties in the state, enrolling an estimated 30.7 percent of eligible households in the CalFresh program — the statewide average enrollment was 37.2 percent. In order to qualify for benefits, recipients must have an adjusted household income level less than double the federal poverty rate, currently about $24,000 for a family of four.

The cost of providing food assistance is largely borne by the federal government, which means that higher enrollment of eligible families brings more money into the region. In 2015, California received $7.53 billion, or about $142 a month toward each enrolled family's grocery bill — another $80 million program funded by the state (equaling about 1 percent of total expenditures) provides benefits to non-citizen permanent legal residents ineligible for federal assistance.

Current enrollments are an improvement: in 2010, San Diego County ranked 55th of 58, enrolling only 26.5 percent of eligible households. But the county doesn't necessarily see things the same way.

Last November, the county disputed another study finding just under 50 percent eligible enrollment by claiming that a full 90 percent of local residents able to claim benefits were doing so. Still, there's no doubt that participation in food-assistance programs is on the rise, though Californians are far less likely than residents of other states to rely on federal aid.

"California’s SNAP enrollment has lagged behind the nation for more than a decade, but the gap is narrowing," says the Public Policy Institute study. "During the Great Recession and its aftermath, the share of all Californians receiving CalFresh rose sharply — from 5.7% in 2008 to 11.3% in 2015. Still, in the rest of the United States, 14.7% of residents received SNAP benefits in 2015."

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Despite repeated criticism and refutation by local government officials, a report released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that San Diego still lags well behind the state and nation in enrolling eligible low-income houses in CalFresh, California's version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, still commonly referred to as "food stamps."

San Diego landed in a six-way tie for 42nd out of 58 counties in the state, enrolling an estimated 30.7 percent of eligible households in the CalFresh program — the statewide average enrollment was 37.2 percent. In order to qualify for benefits, recipients must have an adjusted household income level less than double the federal poverty rate, currently about $24,000 for a family of four.

The cost of providing food assistance is largely borne by the federal government, which means that higher enrollment of eligible families brings more money into the region. In 2015, California received $7.53 billion, or about $142 a month toward each enrolled family's grocery bill — another $80 million program funded by the state (equaling about 1 percent of total expenditures) provides benefits to non-citizen permanent legal residents ineligible for federal assistance.

Current enrollments are an improvement: in 2010, San Diego County ranked 55th of 58, enrolling only 26.5 percent of eligible households. But the county doesn't necessarily see things the same way.

Last November, the county disputed another study finding just under 50 percent eligible enrollment by claiming that a full 90 percent of local residents able to claim benefits were doing so. Still, there's no doubt that participation in food-assistance programs is on the rise, though Californians are far less likely than residents of other states to rely on federal aid.

"California’s SNAP enrollment has lagged behind the nation for more than a decade, but the gap is narrowing," says the Public Policy Institute study. "During the Great Recession and its aftermath, the share of all Californians receiving CalFresh rose sharply — from 5.7% in 2008 to 11.3% in 2015. Still, in the rest of the United States, 14.7% of residents received SNAP benefits in 2015."

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Comments
6

Not surprised to read this news again. San Diego is terrible at doing outreach and informing residents about eligibility for foodstamps The program is now called SNAP, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If anyone is interested or would like to know if they qualify here it a link to find out:

http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/index.jsp

March 28, 2016

As the reporter said, in California it's called CalFresh. And the correct link for our state is: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/foodstamps/

March 28, 2016

When everyone in the US of A is a tax receiver, who is going to be around to pay the bill? Bernie Sanders?

March 28, 2016

dBat, Thanks for the correction. I downloaded the application and can see why so few apply. Gotta love doing business in Cali.

March 28, 2016

The problem as I see it is not that the San Diego is not enrolling all the eligible people in the CalFresh program it is that there are not enough jobs and that most of the jobs available are low wage no/low benefit jobs that still leaves the worker eligible for welfare. We do not need more people to sign up for welfare we need more good paying jobs with good benefits instead of investing in poverty.

March 29, 2016

And yet businesses think it's the end of the world if they will have to pay workers $15 an hour in the future.

March 29, 2016

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