Lately, our screens and news sources have been filled with the most recent coronavirus updates ranging from positive (many countries are slowly reopening) to disheartening (people continue to lose loved ones and jobs). The effects of coronavirus have touched everything and everyone, and they continue to inform how Bounty will roll out information and resources for this year’s CalFresh Awareness Month, which is celebrated annually during May since 2011.
In California, 55,624 people applied for CalFresh in just the third week of March, which is an increase of 59.46% from the same time period last year. On a local Sonoma County level, there were nearly 2,000 new CalFresh applications in March 2020, which is a 90% increase from March 2019. These numbers are unprecedented and indicate the dire need many families are facing during these increasingly insecure times. However, they also point toward an opportunity for informed outreach efforts about the nuts and bolts of CalFresh, how you get it, and where you can use it (farmers’ markets!).
In this spirit, we’re launching a CalFresh Awareness Month Blog Series with the intent of sharing information that is relevant, timely and helpful, especially for new CalFresh users or people who might have recently become CalFresh-eligible amidst the coronavirus crisis. Along with some of the basics about CalFresh, we’ll cover topics like how coronavirus affects CalFresh benefits through a new measure called “Pandemic EBT,” who’s most affected by Covid-19 within our food system, and how resources like CalFresh can help our community members secure food while also boosting the local economy.
Every year, CalFresh Awareness Month presents an opportunity to cultivate support for a program that provides increased food access for thousands of people in Sonoma County. Now more than ever is an opportunity to imagine a more inclusive food system, starting with raised awareness about CalFresh and how it can benefit all layers of our economy, ecology, and community.