CSAC Bulletin Article

Health and Human Services 11/05/2010

Food Stamp Program Undergoes Name Change: CalFresh

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has turned over a new leaf in California’s food stamp program by rebranding the benefit “CalFresh.”

The new name was unveiled in Long Beach on October 23 by California First Lady Maria Shriver, who emphasized the program’s goal of helping Californians to put healthy food on their tables. 

More than three million Californians take part in the mostly federal CalFresh program each month. However, California is still struggling with low participation rates, despite the fact that many working families are currently eligible for the benefit. The rebranding of the program and focus on fresh, healthy food and nutrition is part of the state’s efforts to increase participation overall. 

The CalFresh program has been offered under different monikers over the years, with California using the term “Food Stamps” since the 1970s. The actual stamps that were issued by the federal government have been superseded by the technological advance of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which debuted in 2005. In 2008, Congress changed the name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). States were given the option to come up with their own names, and CalFresh is the culmination of two years of work by the CDSS which was funded by a $150,000 grant from the California Endowment.

Judge to Rule Soon on Stage 3 Child Care Cuts; County First 5 Commissions Step Up

First 5 Commissions in 31 counties have authorized $34 million in loans for CalWORKs Stage 3 Child Care, while an Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to rule on the issue today. 

Superior Court Judge Carvill had delayed the elimination of the Stage 3 Child Care program by one week, to November 5. If the cut is implemented, more than 55,000 children could lose child care, which may result in the loss of jobs for many of the parents, as well as the child care providers.

In the meantime, eight other county First 5 Commissions are considering loans to help parents pay for child care for children aged 5 and younger until January. 

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has also contributed $6 million from the Assembly operating budget toward saving the program. He is hopeful that a legislative majority will vote to restore the $256 million in Stage 3 CalWORKs child care funding that was vetoed by the Governor on October 8. The Legislature will reconvene in early December and be in Sacramento full-time in January. 

The suit was filed by the Public Interest Law Project, the Child Care Law Center, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Public Counsel Law Center, and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Parent Voices Oakland and four parents who would have lost child care due to the elimination of program funding in the state budget.

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