The following information was released by the Diocese of Orange. Emphasis added.
Catholic Charities of California announced today it received a $250,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support CalFresh outreach and enrollment assistance services to low-income Californians. CalFresh is the state’s name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and California currently has one of the lowest participation rates in the nation. About 55% of eligible California resients receives CalFresh benefits, costing the state an estimated $4.7 billion in untapped federal benefit dollars, and an estimated $8.3 billion in local ecoomic activity which would result from those benefits being utilized to purchase food.
The donation will support CalFresh outreach and enrollment assistance activities by 11 local Catholic Charities agencies in over 20 counties throughout the state. Agencies include Cahtolic Charities Diocese of Fresno, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Catholic Social Service of Solano County (part of Catholic Charities of Sacramento), Catholic Charities of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, Catholic Charities Diocese of Santa Rosa, Catholic Charities Dioces of Stockton, Catholic Charities CYO (Archdiocese of San Francisco), Catholic Charities of Orange County, and Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey. Counties include Fresno, Merced, Solano, Los Angeles, San Bernardio, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Lake, Humboldt, Mendocino, Napa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolmne, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Orange, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and San Luis Obisbo.
Local Cahtolic Charities staff work in these counties to help California’s most vulnerable populations access CalFresh benefits through various activities including distributing CalFresh materials, pre-screening households for elegibility, assisting households to complete and submit CalFresh applications, conducting follow-up with clients and county eligibility staff to address application issues and advocate for clients, and assisting enrolled participants to complete mandatory reporting to maintain benefits.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the Walmart Foundation for this critical work in counties across California. In the current economic climate, donations and other resources which historically support this work have been drastically reduced — at a time when more and more Californians find themselves struggling financially and at risk for hunger. Local Catholic Charities provide clients with comprehensive professional social services to increase self-sufficiency. Hunger puts families at risk for so many negative outcomes — poor school and work performance, poor health, for a start — it is usually one of the first and most fundamental issues that must be addressed in order to stabilize a household. This gift will make it possible for local Catholic Charities to reach more than 15,000 Californias,” said Shannon Lahey, Executive Director for Catholic Charities of California.
In FY 2012, participating California households received an average of $322 per month in CalFresh benefits. According to California Food Policy Advocates, enrolling even 5,000 additional households in CalFresh would bring another $19.3 million in federal benefit dollars annually to California and generate around $34.8 million annually in local economic activity.
Catholic Charities of California and local Catholic Charities agencies received the gift through the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program. This program focuses on work to assist underserved populations in states across the nation. Proposed projects must address one of the Walmart Foundation’s core giving areas: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women’s Economic Empowerment or Career Opportunity. Grants between $25,000 and $250,000 are awarded twice annually to nonprofit organizations operating on a regional or state level.
Walmart’s donation comes at a critical time. California currently has the highest poverty rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (2012) — approximately 23.5 percent of Californians (8.75 million) live in poverty. Over 40 percent of low-income Californians (about 3.8 million) experience periods during 2009 when they could not afford to put food on the table or had to forego other basic needs to do so (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2012). According to 2010 data from USDA, approximately 55 percent of eleigible Californians participated in CalFresh — about 4.1 million individuals. This means that eligible non-participants numbered nearly 3.4 million. Over one-half of current CalFresh participants are children, indicating that over 1.5 million eleigible children may not be receiving benefits.
About Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities has beeen providing services to Californians in need for over 100 years. Catholic Charities of California (CCC), Inc., a 502(c)3, works at the state level to identify and promote solutions to reduce poverty and human suffering. The mission of CCC is to further the work of the 12 local Catholic Charities agencies (Agencies) to reduce poverty and human suffering, promote self-sufficiency, and strengthen communities across California. Each year, Agencies provide professional social services to over 1.1 million unduplicated individuals.
Since 2009, CCC and local Catholic Charities agencies have undertaken a collaborative statewide effort to reduce hunger, improve food security, and promote healthy eating among Californians. This work includes a contract with the California Department of Social Services to provide CalFresh (SNAP) Outreach. The goal of Outreach is to increase CalFresh enrollment, participation, and retention to help eliminate food insecurity and hunger in California, especially among the working poor, seniors, and eligible immigrants who have low CalFresh participation rates. Since 2009, local Catholic Charities agencies have provided over 478,000 individuals with information and outreach materials, prescreened 252,000 households for CalFresh eligibility, and assisted 19,000 households to apply for benefits.
For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesca.org.