S.F. Expands CalFresh to 41K Seniors, People With Disabilities

A 2018 report found increasing rates of food insecurity among San Franciscans.

People browse goods at the Divisadero Farmers’ Market on Sunday, May 5, 2019 (Photo by Sara Gaiser)

An estimated 41,000 San Franciscans will now be eligible for benefits through CalFresh, the state’s food assistance program — roughly double the city’s current levels.

Mayor London Breed announced on Tuesday that San Francisco has made seniors and people with disabilities who receive income assistance from the federal government also eligible for CalFresh. With nearly 50,000 San Franciscans on CalFresh, the expansion means that the city’s rollout of the state program could nearly double.

“CalFresh is our first line of defense against hunger for our city’s residents, and everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food,” Breed said in a statement. “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 able to implement the expansion thanks to the 2018 passing of Assembly Bill 1811, which undid previous California policy that didn’t allow people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to receive CalFresh benefits. That same year, a report by the San Francisco Food Security Task Force found that one in three low-income seniors are unable to afford a sufficient amount of food, made worse by the increasing cost of living.

High rates of food insecurity are also often found among pregnant women, low-income families with young children, immigrants, unhoused people, Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel residents, college students, teenagers transitioning into adulthood, and people with disabilities.

Depending on the household size, the beneficiaries can collect up to $192 per person a month for groceries and will not impact the amount they receive from SSI, according the Mayor’s Office. The amount comes on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debt card, which is accepted at varying grocery stores, farmers markets, and more than 50 restaurants citywide.

In late May, Breed also announced a new “Museums for All” program that allows San Franciscans who receive public benefits, including CalFresh, to visit more than 15 city museums for free during the summer.

The San Francisco Human Services Agency will help people who are newly eligible sign up for the benefits int eh coming months. To get a head start, apply online, call 415-558-4700 or visit one of their three locations in person. 

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