Working Together to End Hunger: Local Leaders Take on CalFresh Challenge

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An alliance of anti-hunger groups - The San Diego Hunger Coalition, Feeding America San Diego, Hunger Advocacy Network, North County Community Services Food Bank, San Diego Food Bank, Super Food Drive and 2-1-1 San Diego - will be hosting the CalFresh Challenge. The Challenge tasks participants to live on an average of $4.31 per day for one week, September 9th to September 15th.

The experience is not simply to see how cheaply one can eat but to reflect on the choices for eating healthy.

An alliance of anti-hunger groups - The San Diego Hunger Coalition, Feeding America San Diego, Hunger Advocacy Network, North County Community Services Food Bank, San Diego Food Bank, Super Food Drive and 2-1-1 San Diego - will be hosting the CalFresh Challenge. The Challenge tasks participants to live on an average of $4.31 per day for one week, September 9th to September 15th. By completing the CalFresh Challenge, participants will better understand the difficulties of trying to eat on a small budget and the value of CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) for low income people.

“The experience is not simply to see how cheaply one can eat,” says Jennifer Tracy, Executive Director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition, “but to reflect on the choices for eating healthy, the psychological impacts of having limited access to food, and what it might be like to face this experience for months and even years.”

To help promote September as Hunger Action Month, leaders from all of San Diego’s anti-hunger groups will be participating. Community members are also encouraged to also take part in the challenge. Participants can register to participate and share their experiences, pictures and videos on the CalFresh Challenge blog: http://www.calfreshchallengesd.wordpress.com .

The Food Stamp Challenge was started in 2007 when four members of Congress decided to live for one week on an average food stamp budget of only a couple dollars a day. The goal then, as now, is to raise awareness and understanding about the challenges faced by millions of Americans receiving CalFresh benefits and the indispensable value of the program.

In the middle of the recession in 2010, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) the federal name for CalFresh, helped maintain 3.9 million Americans above the poverty line, including 1.7 million children and 288,000 seniors. “SNAP can serve as a responsive safety net in times of unemployment and recession, expanding to meet the needs of struggling Americans and automatically contracting as the economy improves,” states Tracy.

The CalFresh Challenge’s ultimate goal is to develop a unique perspective and first-hand experience of the program, which then can be used to mobilize support for a program that has historically garnered bipartisan support and proven itself as an efficient and tremendous safety net for millions of Americans.

About the San Diego Hunger Coalition (SDHC)
SDHC strives to eliminate hunger by collaborating with individuals and organizations that provide services to those in need, educating the public about hunger and advocating at local, state and federal levels. The San Diego Hunger Coalition (SDHC) leads collaborative initiatives and public policy advocacy activities to reduce hunger and increase participation in Federal nutrition programs in San Diego County. SDHC is the lead organization providing CalFresh outreach training and support to more than 45 community-based organizations (clinics, food pantries, churches and social service agencies) working with low-income communities throughout San Diego County. For more information, visit http://www.sandiegohungercoalition.org.

About Feeding America San Diego
Established in 2007, Feeding America San Diego is San Diego’s largest distributor of food, more than 21.5 million pounds within the last year, and the only Feeding America affiliate in the county. FASD works closely with over 160 partner agencies, local school districts, corporate partners and a network of volunteers to serve 73,000 children, families and seniors in need each week. Devoted to feeding the hungry, advocating for a sustainable future, and educating the community, FASD is committed to building a hunger-free and healthy San Diego through innovative programs and collaborative partnerships.

About North County Community Services
North County Community Services (NCCS) is committed to improving the health and well being of North County residents by educating young children, supporting working families, feeding the hungry and ultimately creating opportunities to improve the quality of life for income‐qualified residents of Northern San Diego County. We support this mission by providing Early Childhood Education to children of income‐qualified families at our seven Child Development Centers and by feeding hungry North County residents through the outreach efforts of North County’s Food Bank. http://www.sdnccs.org/

About Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN)
The Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN) is a collaborative of San Diego hunger stakeholders who conduct state-level anti-hunger / food security advocacy. HAN partners annually develop a food security-focused legislative agenda to support through year-long advocacy activities. Within their first year of development, HAN has acquired 16 reputable partners, successfully advocated for four state bills, coordinated a legislators’ breakfast and engaged in a variety of advocacy events. http://www.hungeradvocacynetwork.org or call (858) 637-3032.

About SuperFood
Working with partner organizations, SuperFood Drive educates the community about the health benefits of eating nutrient-dense SuperFoods and works to ensure the accessibility of healthy food to all people, especially those in need. Our vision is to transform local food drives, national food banks and global humanitarian aid into providers of nutrient-dense non-perishable SuperFoods. By educating both the givers and receivers of non-perishable SuperFood items, we promote health and well-being to individuals and their communities.

About Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank
Established in 1977, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is a critical component to the welfare of San Diego County, providing food to people in need, advocating for the hungry and educating the public about hunger-related issues. Through a combination of government programs and partnerships with over 350 San Diego County nonprofit charities, the Food Bank is a central repository and distribution point for government and donated food. In FY2011-2012 the Food Bank distributed 18 million pounds of food to individuals, families and a network of nonprofit organizations that work to alleviate hunger throughout the county. Visit the Food Bank at http://www.sandiegofoodbank.org

About 2-1-1 San Diego
Every hour of every day, someone in San Diego County searches for services, from food assistance to substance abuse treatment, housing or financial assistance. With thousands of health and human service programs, finding help can seem insurmountable. 2-1-1 can help. Serving the entire population of our region, 2-1-1 San Diego connects people with community, health and disaster services through a free, 24/7 stigma-free phone service and searchable online database. Using the power of technology and innovation, we connect people to the help they need. To complete a CalFresh application over the phone or access other community services, dial 2-1-1. For more information about 2-1-1, visit our website at http://www.211sandiego.org to learn more.

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Jennifer Tracy
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