Steve DiGioia

Changes Brought in CalFresh Program: A Worrying Matter for the Benefactors

California, also known as the Golden State, will see significant changes in its CalFresh program.

The move has come out as a concern for the people of California. The changes will take place from November 1st, 2024.

What is the change?

The work eligibility requirements known as the food stamp, have been made strict after Joe Biden introduced the Fiscal Responsibility Act in June 2023.  According to the changes in the program, all able-bodied single adults between the ages 18 to 54, without children or anyone else dependent on them, will need to provide proof of their employment with a minimum of 80 hours per month working to qualify for the CalFresh benefits.

The CalFresh Program

It was established by the Food Stamp Reform Act in 1977 to tackle the issue of hunger.

It is known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP worldwide but locally called CalFresh in California, introduced by the government.

It provides a monthly food benefit to individuals and families with low income to economically benefit the communities and provide them with healthy food. It is an essential and the largest government-funded hunger program in California.

Under this program, low-earning families or individuals can buy nutritious food like the affordability of fruits, vegetables and everything that forms a healthy diet.

The number of benefits one receives is based on the size of the household along with the income and monthly expenses of the house. 

 Upon being eligible for the benefits, the person receives a monthly electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card. The card is used to purchase goods from any local grocery store. 

However, the program only includes food items and not alcoholic beverages or non-food items.

Many states have decided to implement the new changes beginning in January, but California will implement it from November 2024

Benefits Enjoyed

The program has helped millions to get affordable nutritional food. It has also boosted the local economy as more spending is done at local stores, along with that it has also improved health and reduced hunger among low-income households.

A matter of concern 

However, it has become a matter of concern for many advocates along with the low-income individuals who desperately need the benefits of the program.

Nearly, 5 million people are currently relying on the program which would severely affect the people after the changes are introduced. According to the California Budget and Policy Center, the program has helped in reducing poverty and hunger in California. 

750,000 adults between 50-54 could potentially be affected by the new requirements that would be in effect in November. Critics also argue that the strict regulations would leave many households without the benefits they need.

The benefactors of SNAP also dealt with another shock in 2023 when the federal pandemic assistance ended which reduced the payment of low-income individuals as well as households up to $90 and $250 respectively.

The changes introduced in the program would incoherently provoke more future debates and tension. The state would try to balance and focus on the food safety of those who need it the most. They have been made to balance between the increasing cost of living and rising inflation.

 

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