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San Diego County sees record-breaking CalFresh enrollment numbers

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 12, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)—The all-time record for San Diego County’s enrollment in CalFresh benefits has been set.

“We are at an all-time high County history. We have never had this many enrollments in our history here in San Diego County,” Alberto Banuelos of San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency said.

CalFresh is a program that supplements low-income family's food budgets to help them buy healthy food.

As of June 1st, it’s having upwards of 398,000 eligible people in the region getting this vital assistance.

The County told ABC 10News it used to be able to tie spikes to unemployment rates.

“Our unemployment percentage is very low, you know 3-4 percent in the County, we should expect to see low requests for CalFresh. And we haven’t been able to figure out what’s been happening,” Banuelos said.

But a rising cost of living very well could be a factor for the increase.

“We would assume that would have to do something to do. I mean, with rent being 1,800-2,000 dollars a month for a one or two-bedroom,” Banuelos said. “Again, we can no longer tie it to the unemployment rate. But we do see the individuals coming in.”

It’s an increase that doesn’t come as a shock in the non-profit scene.

“With the increase in gas, food, just inflation in general, I’m not surprised unfortunately,” Sam Duke of Feeding San Diego said.

Duke’s the Director of Programs for Feeding San Diego.

He said they’ve also seen a spike in the demand for the state’s version of SNAP.

“So much that we brought on some interns over the past couple of months to help us with the outreach and case management of the increase of interest in CalFresh,” Duke said.

Programs like CalFresh and Feeding San Diego’s summer meals programs for students make tackling food insecurity that much more critical.

“By being able to access the food at our distributions, they have been able to take the funds that they would’ve used on groceries and put it towards other areas of resources that they need. So, cost of living, you mentioned gas, childcare education,” Duke said.

The County said it plans to host events during this month to spread the word and provide help to get people enrolled in Cal Fresh.