California State University, Long Beach
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Grant Helps Promote CalFresh Program

Published: November 1, 2016

The Dean of Students Office at CSULB has been awarded a two-year, $103,648 grant from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to serve as a subcontractor for the CalFresh Outreach efforts and help food insecure students qualify for food assistance.

Jeff Klaus, associate vice president and dean of students, is the principal investigator for the project, and the grant period begins in October.

Formerly known as Food Stamps, the CalFresh Program (as it is known in California) is part of the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families. It is also the largest program in the nation’s efforts to end hunger.

The goals of the statewide outreach program are to increase the number of households and individuals participating in CalFresh and to educate stakeholders, especially people with low incomes, about the food-assistance program. That will be the focus of the campus’ efforts.

“What we’re hearing is that applying for CalFresh assistance is a very cumbersome, overwhelming process. It’s very difficult,” said Carol Menard-Fulthorp, assistant dean of students who will serve as the campus’ manager of the outreach program. “So, with this grant, we will educate and inform our CSULB students about the CalFresh Program, find out if they are eligible through CDSS, and if they are eligible, we will help them apply for their monthly benefits.”

CSULB’s outreach efforts will assist and support students from the application process to approval.

As part of the grant, the university will host two “CalFresh Outreach Days,” one per semester, to educate the campus community and discuss eligibility and how to apply. Menard-Fulthorp noted the campus will also set walk-in application and meeting dates as well as walk-in advising, where students can come in and be counseled on applying for the CalFresh Program.

Also part of the grant is staffing for the project, which will include a graduate student coordinator to help implement the outreach program, four social work student interns to conduct outreach activities, and a faculty member from the School of Social Work to oversee the interns.

“This outreach program is going to give one of our MSW (master’s in social work) students an opportunity to gain some supervisory experience, and the BSW students will get hands-on experience in counseling as they assist students with determining their eligibility and applying for CalFresh benefits,” Menard-Fulthorp pointed out.

calfresh logo

The CalFresh outreach is the latest addition to the year-old Student Emergency Intervention Program (SEIP), which helps food insecure and homeless students by offering meal assistance, emergency grants, hotel vouchers and counseling. SEIP officials also have secured jobs on campus for nine students so far to help them reach more stable living conditions.

The CSULB grant was just one in a package of grants awarded by CDSS to the Center for Health Communities (CHC) at CSU Chico, which serves as a primary contractor for the CalFresh Program. In all, CHC submitted subcontractor applications from nine CSU campuses and the Chancellor’s Office. Systemwide, CalFresh Outreach is projected to generate some 18,000 student applications with many of them expected to be approved for food-assistance benefits.

The first meeting of the campus CalFresh subcontractors was held at the CSU Food and Housing Security Conference on June 20 at the Chancellor’s Office.

“Food security and adequate access to healthy food is essential for student success,” Menard-Fulthorp explained. “This grant will help ensure that our eligible food insecure students have an opportunity to receive CalFresh benefits and focus more on their course work and less on their basic needs as they work toward their ultimate goal…graduation.”

–Rick Gloady