Thousands of households in San Benito County who have received extra CalFresh benefits due to pandemic-related hardships will see a reduction in their monthly allotments as of April 1, and local service providers are preparing now to meet the inevitable surge in demand that will follow.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, households receiving CalFresh benefits received temporary emergency allotments or increases of at least $95 to their regular CalFresh benefit amounts, according to San Benito County officials. The emergency allotments were designed to help individuals and families facing pandemic hardships meet basic food needs.
On Jan. 9, the State of California notified all counties that the CalFresh Emergency Allotments will end the month of February under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. This means a final Emergency Allotment will be issued in March, resulting in less CalFresh benefits beginning in April.
In San Benito County, this will affect approximately 3,149 households. The reduction in benefits may be significant for some individuals and families, county staff noted in a press release.
San Benito County Health and Human Services notified all affected families by text and voice messages, as well as by USPS mass mailer, in January.
The county is recommending that families in need of food and other resources contact the Community Food Bank of San Benito. The food bank’s CEO, Sarah Nordwick, said the local nonprofit is acutely aware of the impending flood of new clients when the CalFresh emergency benefits end.
“We anticipate an increase in need for food bank services. We are aware and actively sourcing new opportunities to get food in our doors,” Nordwick said. “Food Banks have proven ability to scale to increased demand and we are prepared to do what is needed to meet the need once the CalFresh benefits decrease.”
In fact, the demand for food from the local food bank has not decreased from the surge of new clients brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in widespread job losses. Numerous other factors—most notably the winter storms and ongoing inflation—have kept the demand for free food high in San Benito County, Nordwick added.
“In January, during one week over 4,000 families received food through our direct to customer distributions and through our 18 active partner agencies,” Nordwick said. “This number is 700 families more than usual, which was in direct relation to the storms.”
Nordwick added that donations are welcome, and monetary donations are preferred to merchandise. “Food Banks have buying power because of the amount of product purchased at once. This means we are able to stretch $1 worth of food into $4 worth,” Nordwick said.
To donate to the Community Food Bank of San Benito, visit communityfoodbankofsbc.org or call 831.637.0340.
Regular CalFresh benefits will not change for households as long as they remain eligible. The regular benefit amounts are based on circumstances, including household size, income and deductions.
To apply for CalFresh:
– Online: Go to benefitscal.com
– In-person: You may apply in-person at 1111 San Felipe Road, Suite 206, Hollister.
There are additional food resources available to San Benito County residents in the community through the Community Food Bank of San Benito. Pickup locations can be found online at the Community Food Bank of San Benito’ website at communityfoodbankofsbc.org.
More information about CalFresh benefits can be found at cdss.ca.gov/calfreshcovid19.
Thanks so much for the excellent article. Thanks to our location in the middle of farm lands, we have access to fresh, organic produce year round that isn’t available at other counties or many of the cities.