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Here’s Why That’s Important: Only 19% of Seniors in California Who Are Eligible for Snap Use It!

CalFresh is the local name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is funded by the federal government and run by the state. In the past, California has had trouble getting the word out and getting more people to use it.

Back in 2018, NPR wrote a story about why California is one of the states with the least number of people using SNAP, which used to be called food stamps. At the time, Kim McCoy Wade, who was in charge of the CalFresh branch of California’s Department of Social Services, said that not enough people were using the program.

In 2022, California seniors are especially hurt by the fact that not enough people are using SNAP. says that only 19% of seniors who are eligible use the program. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that only 70% of eligible Californians use SNAP benefits, which is less than the average of 82% across the country. Even though the state has tried to get more people to join the program, this number hasn’t changed since 2018.

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In 2011, the state of California made May CalFresh Awareness Month. Since then, the state has used flyers, instructions, newsletters, social media, and other outreach campaigns to let low-income Californians know how important SNAP benefits are.

In March 2022, researchers at the University of California Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo found that most people who apply for SNAP in the state hear about CalFresh from a friend or family member, a non-profit agency, or a college or university.

The Health Benefits of SNAP Participation for California Seniors says that SNAP participation lowers the cost of health care for all state residents. SNAP has been shown to help people get food when they need it. Food insecurity has been linked to a bad diet, which can cause expensive, long-term health problems that could have been prevented, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

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When older people who live at or below the poverty level take part in SNAP, they are less likely to go to the hospital or a nursing home. This lowers the state’s overall healthcare costs. A study by the American Public Health Association shows that taking part in SNAP also makes it less likely that older people won’t take their medications because they don’t have enough money. That could mean less stress and fewer trips to the doctor.

Additional Benefits of SNAP Participation

Having more people use SNAP is good for more than just the people who can get the benefits. It also helps the economy of the state as a whole, which helps farmers, co-ops, and local businesses. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on CalFresh, the state’s economy grows by $1.50.

READ MORE: Feeding Tampa Bay Plans to Get Benefits of Food Stamp!

When nutrition incentive programs like Market Match are added, the positive effect goes up to $3. This puts money back into the local economy and makes fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for everyone. Market Match is a program that matches CalFresh and WIC benefits dollar for dollar at 240 farm-direct sites in 40 California counties.

Increased CalFresh Benefits Coming to Eligible Residents says that Californians are missing out on tens of millions of dollars that could help low-income seniors and families buy fresh, healthy food at a good price. The money could also help small businesses grow.

Plus, this month, people who live in California and are eligible for CalFresh will get more money from the federal Emergency Allotment program. says that the extra money will be added to the EBT cards of people who get food stamps as early as June 11.

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