Economic & Food Security

2014

August 7, 2014 – California’s new FY 2014/15 budget includes $30 million in new state funds for foster children living with grandparents or other relatives.  These funds will provide state foster care benefits to relatives who currently only receive CalWORKs for the foster children in their care because the children are not eligible for federal foster care benefits under outdated Title IV-E rules (Title IV-E federal foster care benefits are available only for children removed from families whose income is so low that they would have qualified for aid under the 1996 AFDC income limits).

This policy change will improve the lives of foster children whose relative caregivers currently struggle to meet their needs with below-poverty CalWORKs benefits ($369 per month). These families will instead receive $820 per month, or more if the children have special needs. Counties must opt in to the new program byOctober 1, 2014. Once counties opt in, the program will start January 1, 2015.

February 13, 2014 – Last Friday, President Obama signed the new Farm Bill into law. Most of us have heard about the major battles around this reauthorization (battles lasting more than two years). But tucked into the legislation are a few changes that will benefit seniors:

The law includes a proposal to enhance services for elderly and disabled SNAP participants (that’s CalFresh in California), particularly those who are homebound. Benefits can now be used to pay for nonprofit grocery delivery services, as long as certain standards are met, such as excluding the delivery fee.

The law also reauthorizes the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, and includes testing ways to expand the use of SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets and farm stands.

For both of these developments, we have to wait for new rules to be issued before we can see the details and think about how they could be implemented in Alameda County to benefit seniors who are food insecure.

2013

October 28, 2013 – Federal stimulus funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program expired November 1, 2013. SNAP, or Food Stamps, is known as CalFresh in California. SNAP benefits, which were boosted with stimulus funds during the recession, will be cut for all households, including seniors. The cut translates into a loss of $457 million in federal food assistance for low-income Californians and the state’s economy.

The National Council on Aging estimates the average single-person household will see a decrease of about $11/month in benefits. The figure can be significant, especially for those living on a fixed income.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering even deeper cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. See our Advocacy Alerts page for details.

October 17, 2013 – AB 191 (Bocanegra) was signed by Governor Brown last week. The law will improve alignment between CalFresh and Medi-Cal and help ensure that low-income households with a Medi-Cal recipient also receive CalFresh nutrition benefits.

AB 191 will streamline eligibility for Medi-Cal recipients and their families by making low-income households with a Medi-Cal recipient categorically eligible for CalFresh. The CalFresh gross income test will be raised from the current limit of 130% FPL to 200% FPL for these households.

This alignment between CalFresh and Medi-Cal has the potential to increase CalFresh participation, boost administrative efficiency, and increase the likelihood that low-income households have access to a package of benefits that support their overall health and well-being.  It will also draw down more federal dollars, injecting them into the state and local economies.

Alignment between Medi-Cal and CalFresh will certainly help many more seniors access CalFresh benefits and receive extra help to eat healthy and make ends meet.  [Seniors age 60+ are already assessed for CalFresh eligibility based on their net income (not gross), and CalFresh no longer requires an asset test to determine eligibility.]

Many thanks to California Food Policy Advocates for advancing this important legislation, and for their continuing work to ensure that implementation is successful.

September 26, 2013 – Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of the US Administration for Community Living and Assistant Secretary for Aging, spoke recently at the Meals on Wheels Association of America conference. She described the political winds of change that are putting the future of Older Americans Act funding for Senior Nutrition and other OAA-funded programs at risk. She made a compelling case for adaptation and innovation as a means to survive and thrive. Watch her presentation below or click here.

March 20, 2013 – The Alameda County Area Agency on Aging just released an RFP for organizations qualified to provide Senior Nutrition Services to City of Alameda, Piedmont and Oakland residents who are older adults. Funding for this Request for Proposals (RFP) has been allocated to the AAA by the Older Americans Act and Older Californians Act. The AAA seeks qualified bidders to provide meals that will be utilized in Home Delivered and Congregate Meals programs. Click here for proposal details.

The AAA will hold two bidders conferences, scheduled for the morning and afternoon of April 2, 2013. Bid Responses are due on April 19, 2013.  The anticipated contract period is for one year, from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

March 2013

March is “March for Meals” month, an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action at the local level.  For more info, check out this link. Also check out A Place At The Table a documentary film and a call to action to address hunger in the U.S.

February 2013

California Food Policy Advocates have released a report that presents data on CalFresh household characteristics for fiscal year 2012. The report describes characteristics for both CalFresh-eligible households and eligible, participating households. One of the key findings is that of total participating CalFresh households in 2012, only 4.8 percent included seniors, and 1.7 percent include adults with disabilities.

The report also found that dependent care and medical deductions are widely underutilized components of the CalFresh benefit deduction. These deductions are especially important for seniors and people with disabilities, because claiming these deductions may entitle them to higher benefits. The report found only 1.8 percent of participating CalFresh households claimed the medical deduction and 2.1 percent claimed the dependent care deduction in FY 2012.

Click here for the report.

 

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