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Thousands of San Diego senior citizens now eligible for food stamps

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Posted at 3:27 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 21:22:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new California law aims to help thousands of low-income Californians gain access to fresh and healthy food.

Seniors in California who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will also be able to apply for CalFresh food benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

SSI recipients are either over age 65, disabled, or blind.

Up until recently, they couldn't apply for CalFresh benefits because they receive money for food in their check; however, it's just $10 a month.

"One of the challenges seniors face is the high cost of living, we can hardly make it with what we get," said Gwendolyn Joseph, a San Diegan who lives on a fixed income.

Joseph just turned 76 and can finally apply for CalFresh benefits, despite receiving SSI benefits.

The average CalFresh recipient receives $130 per month to purchase food.

"We are striving so hard in California to restore these kinds of safety net programs to our most vulnerable Californians, look around this room, these are people who've worked their entire lives, they deserve it, they've earned it, and they need our support now," said Senator Toni Atkins, who represents California Senate District 39.

Feeding San Diego, in partnership with Serving Seniors, 211 San Diego, and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services, is working to spread the word and encourage SSI recipients to apply for CalFresh benefits.

"The nutritional gap that we're seeing in San Diego in terms of people having calories to eat, but not having healthy and nutritious foods to eat, is a real serious and growing problem, and it impacts seniors disproportionately," said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego.

California had been the only state in the nation to exclude SSI recipients from receiving food stamps.