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Seniors and CalFresh: Millions are Eligible, but Many are Not Taking Advantage

Seniors and CalFresh: Millions are Eligible, but Many are Not Taking Advantage

Seniors are one of the most vulnerable populations to suffer from food insecurity. CalFresh and the LA Regional Food Bank can help.

In the most populated counties in California, millions of seniors in Los Angeles County are losing out on the benefits of CalFresh. While the cost of living continues to rise, seniors on a fixed income sacrifice food and their overall well-being to make ends meet.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has been working to feed the most vulnerable for over 50 years. The Food Bank has worked closely with the Los Angeles Department of Social Services (LADPSS) and its CalFresh program in order to help provide food to those who need it most.

What is CalFresh, and Who Is Eligible?

CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program in California, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program California (SNAP) nationally and formerly known as Food Stamps, that helps low-income individuals and families purchase healthy food. Participants receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card, to purchase food at authorized retailers.

Those seeking food assistance are urged to participate in the CalFresh program. CalFresh helps food-insecure individuals maximize their food budget to purchase nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. The Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Team provides guidance with the application process.

Are You Eligible for CalFresh? Find out here

The Importance of Addressing Senior Hunger

Experts shared that older adults who faced food insecurity experienced quicker cognitive declines compared to their food-secure counterparts, as reported by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). Food-insecure older adults are more likely to struggle with malnutrition, depression and physical functioning impediments.

According to a study presented in The Journal of Nutrition, ASN also states that food sufficiency and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program participation may help prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

While there are assistance programs, these older adults may still need help to access nutrient-dense food. Not having proper nutrition, more senior adults risk increased disability, decreased resistance to infections, weakened immune systems and declined mental health. Older adults must maintain a nutritious diet as doctors often prescribe medicine, assuming that patients reach a healthy caloric intake threshold.

The Food Bank Provides Additional Assistance After CalFresh Benefits Deplete

The Food Bank’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) focuses on enhancing the health and nutritional status of individuals aged 60 and above. By providing a monthly package of approximately 30 pounds of nutritious, shelf-stable staples, CSFP aims to supplement participants’ diets with essential food items such as milk, meat, beans, grains, and canned fruits and vegetables. 

To qualify for CSFP, individuals must be 60 years or older and meet income requirements. Eligibility is determined based on household income, which should be at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. For instance, the maximum monthly income is $1,580 for one member and $2,137 for two members. Every senior in the household is eligible to receive their own individual food box, ensuring that each person’s needs are met. To learn more about this program, visit the CSFP webpage or email CSFP@lafoodbank.org.

Receiving additional assistance from the Food Bank at the end of the month when CalFresh benefits are depleted can be a life-changer for our neighbors. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please visit the Food Bank’s Food Pantry Locator for the nearest distribution near you.

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When you give monthly, you provide food to a family in need. Together, #WeFeedLA.

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