Expansion increases healthy food budgets for older adults and people with disabilities receiving SSI/SSP benefits
On June 5, Mayor London N. Breed announced that San Francisco has implemented an expansion of the CalFresh food assistance program to alleviate hunger for thousands living on low and fixed incomes. For the first time, 41,000 seniors and people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) benefits are eligible for CalFresh.
“The expansion of CalFresh to SSI recipients will help alleviate the food insecurity and lack of access to nutritious food that many low-income seniors and disabled individuals currently experience.”
CalFresh benefits supplement household budgets, allowing individuals and families to afford nutritious food, including vegetables, fruits, and other healthy options. The benefit amount depends on household income, and can range up to $192 per person each month. All newly eligible San Franciscans are encouraged to apply for benefits, and applying for CalFresh will not change or reduce their existing SSI/SSP benefits.
“CalFresh is our first line of defense against hunger for our City’s residents, and everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food,” said Mayor Breed. “This new expansion of the CalFresh program will help more of our seniors and people with disabilities purchase the food they need to live healthy lives.”
San Francisco is implementing California Assembly Bill 1811, which reverses the existing State policy that made SSI recipients previously ineligible for CalFresh. A 2018 assessment by the San Francisco Food Security Task Force cited concerning declines in access to nutritious foods for vulnerable residents. According to the same report, one in three low-income seniors are reportedly unable to afford enough food. The expansion of CalFresh to SSI recipients will help alleviate the food insecurity and lack of access to nutritious food that many low-income seniors and disabled individuals currently experience.
“This historic expansion of our food safety net will double the number of San Franciscans who can receive CalFresh,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “We want every eligible household to apply. For families in a high-cost city like San Francisco, every dollar of CalFresh assistance is vital to put more nutritious food on the table.”
CalFresh currently provides food assistance to nearly 50,000 San Franciscans. Benefits are delivered on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card and can be used at any grocery store, neighborhood market, or farmers market that accepts EBT. Older adults, disabled and homeless residents can also use CalFresh EBT to purchase hot, prepared foods at more than 50 participating restaurants throughout the City.
“Each day in our communities, too many people are sacrificing buying nutritious foods to cover expenses like rent and medicine,” said Anni Chung, President and Chief Executive Officer of Self-Help for the Elderly. “CalFresh gives more freedom to people with limited incomes to buy what they need to live healthier lifestyles.”
The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) will support the influx of new CalFresh applicants through expanded community outreach efforts and eligibility enrollment staff. In the coming months, HSA will offer enrollment events and application assistance training to community organizations, housing and health care providers that serve people that receive SSI. For more information, visit: http://www.SFHSA.org/Calfresh.
How to apply for CalFresh
There are three ways to connect with the San Francisco Human Services Agency to apply for CalFresh:
• Online: Visit www.GetCalFresh.org
• By phone: Start your application by calling (415) 558-4700
• In person: Come in to an HSA service center in San Francisco, open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.:
– 1235 Mission Street
– 1440 Harrison Street
– 2 Gough Street
Providing support to complete an application online is the most convenient way for community partners, caregivers and families to help SSI recipients apply for and receive CalFresh benefits.