Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter – The vision of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is this: through our efforts, we can assure every person in need in the community that they will be able to receive one meal a day. It is an ambitious goal because even though we are serving more than 130,000 people each month and distributing 17 million pounds of food each year, the number of people coming to us indicates there is much more to do.
Several years ago, we recognized we could make a difference by helping people enroll in the CalFresh program (the new name for the food stamp program). We have staff members who go to food distribution sites and help people understand what they need to do to enroll in the CalFresh program. We work with county enrollment workers at “train the trainer” workshops to create a network of people who can help those coming for food assistance enroll in the CalFresh program.
Because of the economic downturn and community enrollment efforts, participation in the CalFresh program has increased dramatically in Solano County. More than 20,000 households (more than 40,000 individuals) in Solano County are receiving CalFresh — 9.6 percent of the entire county. These households are trying to survive on an income of 130 percent of the poverty rate (approximately $29,976 for a family of four). Helping people enroll in the CalFresh program provides people with the money they need to buy food for their family.
I hope the work we do helps people understand that CalFresh is a nutrition program that brings federal dollars into our community, where it is spent in our local grocery stores. For every CalFresh dollar that comes into a community, $1.73 of economic activity is generated.
Like the school lunch program or the senior meal program, CalFresh exists so we can help feed our neighbors.