LOS ANGELES – One in five people in Los Angeles County currently struggles with food insecurity – that means more than two million people in the county lack consistent access to enough food to lead an active, healthy life. L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan, has awarded $1.3 million to the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) to help thousands of low-income individuals and families get benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), called CalFresh in California.
“While more than one million L.A. County residents participate in CalFresh monthly, it’s estimated that is only 66 percent of those who qualify – more than 500,000 others could get the food they need to stay healthy,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “L.A. Care recognizes that health care is about more than just a plastic card in your wallet. The plan is determined to do all it can to help get more families on CalFresh and ensure more families are getting the nutritious foods they need.”
The CAFB is in its 18th year of supporting CalFresh outreach and enrollment all across the state. Last year alone, CAFB collaborated with 50 organizations statewide to assist 24,000 households with the application process and helped 7,000 households retain CalFresh Benefits. CAFB will use the L.A. Care funding to provide grants to up to 10 nonprofit organizations across L.A. County. The organizations will provide outreach and enrollment assistance to at least 5,600 eligible families, which is about 17,000 individuals who will gain access to nutritious foods.
“Right now, thousands of Angelenos are going without the grocery support that they are eligible for – for any number of reasons, including fear, misinformation, and language, transportation, or technology barriers. CalFresh outreach workers are uniquely skilled at reaching populations that have been marginalized in our communities and providing information about nutrition benefits in ways that break down stigma, dispel myths, and assist with navigating the application process," said Stacia Levenfeld, CEO of the California Association of Food Banks. "We are incredibly grateful to L.A. Care for their partnership and for supporting this critical outreach work. Access to nutritious food is a basic human right and together we're working to make that right a reality for L.A. County residents. And, at the same time, these CalFresh dollars will help to stimulate the local economy with more groceries being purchased at local markets.”
This new grant is part of the Community Wellness Initiative launched in 2015 by L.A. Care’s Community Benefits Department. Since its launch, the initiative has helped more than 16,400 families secure CalFresh benefits, which is equivalent to more than 50,000 individuals. The project aligns with L.A. Care’s commitment to support under-resourced populations and improve health outcomes among racially diverse low-income populations in Los Angeles County. Addressing food insecurity is also part of L.A. Care’s commitment to advancing health equity, which means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.