Fighting Hunger Among Senior Citizens: CalFresh 2014
Let’s Help Seniors Claim Their Benefits and Keep Federal Dollars in Mendocino County
Many of the seniors I know are too proud to take “handouts.” Instead, they go hungry. I’m hoping that by sharing the following information, folks might feel differently.
Did you know that Mendocino gets federal dollars to fund CalFresh (what we used to refer to as food stamps)? Local people who qualify for assistance do not take money out of the general fund, rather they bring federal dollars into Mendocino County.
To be an eligible senior, you must be at least 60 years of age and your income must be at 133 percent the federal poverty limit (or below). But here’s the thing, before seniors calculate their income, they can deduct medical expenses first! And, seniors do not need to meet the “gross income” test. They only need to meet the “net income” test. This means, you can own a home or a car and still qualify. And, unlike other groups, seniors only have to reapply every two years.
To apply for regular CalFresh, the process usually takes about 30 days. Seniors can apply in-person, online, or by mail. The most common method is by mail. If they need help completing the application, they can meet with a CalFresh advocate. If they need expedited CalFresh because they will run out of food in less than three days, the process can be sped up dramatically.
Seniors who have paid taxes their whole working life shouldn’t feel bad about getting a little help at this point in their life. If they do not claim their benefits, that federal money doesn’t come to Mendocino County. I heard a presentation recently that estimated that Mendocino County grocery stores and food retailers lose out on an estimated $10 million a year in potential food stamp income. That’s big money. And, CalFresh money is worth double at the Ukiah Farmers’ Market, thanks to an innovative program from North Coast Opportunities.
According to the California Center for Rural Policy and the California Health Interview Survey, about 30 percent of low-income families in Mendocino County have gone hungry in the past year because they could not afford enough food.
Let’s get rid of the stigma and help hungry people get the food they need. If you know of someone who may qualify for CalFresh, encourage them to apply. Send them to www.c4yourself.com or for more information, have them call and speak to a local CalFresh advocate. Folks can contact the Community Outreach Unit at the Department of Social Services at 463-5437.