[DPSS] – On Tuesday, May 1, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will join the Department of Public Social Services and a broad-based community collaborative to launch what has been described as the most comprehensive and coordinated local effort to increase access to food assistance and reduce hunger in the nation’s largest county.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on food insecurity, the number of U.S. homes lacking adequate food more than tripled in the last four years. In Los Angeles County (home to 10.4 million residents), it’s estimated that only half of those eligible are receiving CalFresh – the supplemental nutrition food benefit previously called Food Stamps.
Despite a record high number of 1,061,000 individuals who received CalFresh benefits in January 2012, there are still many residents in immediate need of assistance who are unaware that they may be eligible for CalFresh.
“Hunger is an issue that affects us all and this collaboration represents an intense effort to serve those most vulnerable in Los Angeles County, particularly during this tough economic time,” stated DPSS Acting Director Sheryl L. Spiller.
As they did last year, the Board of Supervisors will again kick off the campaign, announcing a month-long series of events to increase participation in CalFresh. Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas will lead the Board in proclaiming May 2012 as “CalFresh Awareness Month” throughout the County.
This year, the campaign will highlight the nutritional benefits of CalFresh. Due to reports that lower-income communities are at greater risks for obesity, diabetes and certain other diseases, the department has enlisted the help of the Department of Public Health (DPH), local supermarkets and farmer’s markets, food banks and school districts, to promote the benefits of healthier food choices and more exercise.
The campaign will also emphasize the department’s convenient methods to apply for services, such as on-line applications and a web-based Customer Service Center.
In May 2011, DPSS and various faith-based and community-based organizations came together with a common goal to highlight the CalFresh program and to remove barriers and/or stigmas that were discouraging eligible individuals and families from applying for food benefits. The inaugural public outreach campaign was recognized nationally by the USDA – Food and Nutrition Service and the National Association of Counties.
For more information on CalFresh benefits, visit www.dpss.lacounty.gov/dpss/calfresh or call the Health and Nutrition Hotline at 1 (877) 597-4777.