February 23, 2023

Learn more about our CalFresh Outreach Program

While the Imperial Valley Food Bank (IVFB) is proud to distribute a wide variety of healthy food, we know that there is great dignity in a person being able to choose and purchase their own. That is why we have staff who specialize in helping people navigate the process to apply for CalFresh, known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The application takes many factors into consideration. It is always worth applying to see if you qualify,” IVFB Outreach Manager Isabel Andrade said. “We will assist and guide you through the process.”

Individuals interested in receiving CalFresh benefits can apply by identifying their household's size, countable income, and monthly expenses, such as housing and utilities. The program issues food benefits to qualifying individuals and families every month on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used to purchase food at grocery stores and farmers markets.

The state uses EBT cards for a variety of benefits programs; however, the CalFresh program remains unique in that the funds can only be used to purchase nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, bread, and non-alcoholic beverages.

In addition to preventing food insecurity and keeping people out of poverty, CalFresh is good for the local economy because it increases consumer spending in grocery stores.

Since 2005, IVFB has educated the community about this important program and helped people apply. Our CalFresh outreach program consists of three bilingual staff members that promote the enrollment of CalFresh through outreach events, assist 1,000 people each year with their applications, and provide educational materials to the community.

It's important to educate the community about the benefits of applying for CalFresh, especially those living in poverty or facing difficult circumstances.

Recently one elderly Calexico resident, Rosa*, shared with our Outreach Specialist how thankful she was to learn about the services our food bank offers, specifically how we help with the CalFresh application.

Rosa lives in a senior apartment complex and has had a difficult time adjusting to living alone after her husband passed away. Like other senior citizens her age, Rosa lives on a fixed income, which only includes what she receives from Social Security Income (SSI). Her monthly expenses like rent, electricity, gas, water, and food left her struggling to make ends meet.

After listening to her struggles and explaining the process on how to apply for benefits, our Outreach Specialist helped Rosa fill out the intake questionnaire. After following up with her about her application, we were happy to hear she was approved for CalFresh benefits that will allow her to maintain a nutritional diet.

Rosa was thankful to learn about these resources during a time she had been feeling overcome by loneliness. She shared how grateful she was to have had the opportunity to meet our Outreach Specialist and learn about the resources available to those suffering from food insecurity.

Our CalFresh Outreach team helps people with limited transportation, like Rosa, by bringing the application assistance directly to them in areas like low-income housing, mobile parks, and rural communities.

For those who cannot meet in person, our bilingual team provides CalFresh application assistance over the phone.

Beyond navigating CalFresh, our CalFresh Outreach team understands other helpful nonprofit and government services available to eligible clients. By fostering strong relationships with local organizations, our team hopes to create a one-stop shop for clients seeking valuable local resources.

Programs like CalFresh are becoming increasingly necessary for families to apply to, as many struggle to offset record-high inflation prices. Demand at the Imperial Valley Food Bank’s monthly food distributions is also on the rise, demonstrating the growing need for food in the community.

Unfortunately, many people in Imperial Valley are unaware that they may qualify for CalFresh especially because eligibility can change depending on new laws. Beginning in 2019, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may also be eligible for receive CalFresh food benefits.

To learn more about the CalFresh application process or to speak with our IVFB Outreach team, contact us at 760-545-0148.

*Client’s name has been changed to protect privacy.