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Health and Human Services Agency Sponsoring CalFresh Challenge

Monday, October 6, 2014

More than 50 people in Mendocino County will be taking the CalFresh Challenge during the week of October 20th. Participants in the Challenge pledge to use the average California food stamp benefit – $5 per person, per day– as their total daily food budget for five consecutive days.  CalFresh is known nationally as the SNAP program, and is formerly known as the Food Stamp program.

The CalFresh Challenge gives participants a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans. Challenge participants must make difficult food shopping choices, and often realize how hard it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy.

“While living on a CalFresh budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week , it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding,” said Stacey Cryer, Director of Mendocino County’s Health and Human Services Agency.  “I encourage everyone to join the Challenge!” 

CalFresh helps millions of low-income people purchase needed food each month. Eligibility is based on income and assets depending on household size.  In addition to helping families make ends meet, food stamps also give back to our local economy. For every $5 in food stamps that are used in grocery stores or at local farmers’ markets, close to $10 is generated in local economic activity.

The County of Mendocino coordinates a local coalition of food and hunger advocates called Food For All Mendocino.  During the month of October, Food For All Mendocino is sponsoring several activities in celebration of Federal Food Programs.  North Coast Opportunities is an active participant in the Food For All Coalition, and NCO Executive Director Patty Bruder says she encourages employees to participate. “Understanding how hard it is to live on food stamps fosters compassion and empathy for those who are less fortunate,” says Bruder of the CalFresh Challenge. “Access to fresh, healthy food makes a huge difference in our health. Unfortunately, fresh food is considerably less accessible for our low-income community members.”

NCO Community Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Archer will be publishing a daily journal about her experience doing the CalFresh Challenge. “It will be hard to eat according to my preferences and values, but I’m up to the challenge,” says Archer. “So is my partner, but he doesn’t know it yet!”

For additional Food Month activities and opportunities, including the chance to register for the CalFresh Challenge and also to learn about School Meals and WIC, please visit www.healthymendocino.org.  To stay informed about the Challenge, please consider “liking” Food For All Mendocino’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/foodforallmendocino.