By City News Service

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May “CalFresh Awareness Month,” on Tuesday, in an effort to expand access to federally funded food benefits for students and other vulnerable households.

About 1.1 million people countywide receive federally funded CalFresh benefits, but authorities say many more are eligible, including many college students.

A 2018 federal study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 40 percent of students surveyed from UC campuses and 42 percent from CSU campuses have experienced “food insecurity.” The term refers to the lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Food-insecure students are more apt to have poor physical health, depression and psychological stress, leading to higher dropout rates, according to the Department of Social Services.

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In June, California is also expanding the CalFresh program to serve older adults and disabled individuals who receive state and federal welfare benefits. More than 206,000 Los Angeles County residents are estimated to become eligible under the new rules.

A kick-off event to reach students will be held May 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Some individuals and families in need are unaware that they qualify for benefits to help pay for food. Others worry about the stigma of using what was long referred to as “food stamps.”

More information on the CalFresh program can be found at https://dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov.

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