Sonoma State combats food insecurity

In an effort to combat food insecurity, Sonoma State, in partnership with the CSU, is hosting a CalFresh Festival on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Ballroom B to help students get signed up for assistance to buy groceries.

According to the event webpage, A CalFresh card is as easy to use as a debit card and can be worth up to $150 a month. Students can sign up for CalFresh online to see what their exact benefits would be.

The CSU system has taken action by making it easier for struggling students to obtain benefits from CalFresh, California’s food stamp program.

 CalFresh is a “nutrition assistance program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that can help students buy the food they need to live healthy and active lifestyles,” says the CSU website.

There is now an easily accessible link on student’s mySSU portals to the CalFresh website. 

To be eligible for CalFresh benefits, students must be working at least 20 hours per week, or meet one of the other various requirements.

On Jan. 21, Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced a bill that ensures low-income college students to have more reliable access to food through the program by streamlining the application process. Many people know that the paperwork for most anything is a task that can take a dreadfully long time. Dodd’s bill could benefit about 50,000 eligible college students across the state who could be able to enroll in CalFresh in an easier and less stressful way.

 “Students shouldn’t be forced to make the heartbreaking choice between getting an education and eating,” said Dodd in a press release. “Hunger is a serious problem on college campuses across the state and my bill takes an important step toward putting food on the table.”

 According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, one-third of college students are struggling to afford food and basic nutrition. Hunger is a problem that affects many college campuses around the nation. There are barriers preventing struggling students from getting access to healthy and fresh food.

 “It’s scary to think that getting proper meals is a hardship that students are facing,” said Ron Gilbert, a Sonoma State parent. “This program is a great opportunity for them to get financial help to make sure they have a full stomach.”

 The CalFresh program has provided help to CSU campuses by stretching tight budgets to allow students to incorporate healthier options into their diet. The application process can be very complex and difficult, which is why Sen. Dodd chose to address this part of the problem. 

Dodd’s bill would mandate a single standardized form across all community colleges and universities in California that are automatically distributed to certain students when they become eligible for work-study programs.