Blunting Hunger Pangs

calfreshWATSONVILLE > Friday discussion aims to spread awareness of CalFresh eligibility

Santa Cruz County has been taking advantage of more food assistance programs than ever over the last few years, but Second Harvest Food Bank thinks that public awareness of available resources could use a boost.

This Friday, May 11, Second Harvest Food Bank will hold an event highlighting the CalFresh program (formerly known as food stamps and now federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). According to a Second Harvest press release, CalFresh is being seriously underutilized.

“Currently, less than 50 percent of eligible Californians are benefiting from this valuable program,” says Second Harvest’s Deborah Yashar in the press release.

Food aid programs in Santa Cruz have been seeing spikes in use over the past several years. In 2003, 32,618 people in Santa Cruz County were served by the Second Harvest Food Bank. By 2010, that number had grown to 52,400.


Students benefiting from free or reduced cost school meals have also increased in number—while still below the California average, students receiving these benefits went from 36.4 percent of students to 50.9 percent.

The number of Santa Cruz County residents living below the poverty line is steadily climbing as well, so programs like CalFresh may be more relevant than ever.

The event will feature several guess speakers, including assemblymembers Bill Monning and Luis Alejo, Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Claudine Wildman of the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department, and others. It is being sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Central Coast Hunger Coalition, and other local food aid relief agencies.

The event will be held Friday, May 11 at 8 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 229 Stanford St. in Watsonville.

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