CalFresh Success Story | “Food stamps helped me stay in school.”

May 4, 2017

When 29-year-old Julia was in her last year of nursing school, she finally succumbed to the stark reality of her situation. Her husband had recently been laid off from his engineering job, and with bills piling up, the couple wasn’t sure if they could afford for Julia to finish school. They were also struggling to put food on the table for their kids.

“It got pretty scary for a while,” Julia recalls. “My husband and I were just trying to feed our family. We were so careful with our spending, but it just wasn’t enough.”  

After maxing-out their credit cards, Julia realized it was time to reach out for help. They applied for CalFresh, a federally-funded nutrition program (formerly called Food Stamps) that helps low-income households buy healthy foods.

Getting enrolled made a quick but lasting impact on Julia’s family. “I remember how we immediately all started eating better food. We’re talking about fruits and vegetables we had been skipping. And, food stamps helped me stay in school and earn my degree,” Julia says.

After Julia graduated, she landed a job as a labor and delivery nurse at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. With her steady income and her husband back at work, the family no longer needed CalFresh. But it’s not far from her mind: part of her job at the hospital is to help new mothers with financial challenges sign up for the program.

“If you’re not doing very well, and you’re not making enough money, CalFresh is one of the best ways to help you get by until you can get back on your feet.  It certainly helped me and my family get over the hump,” she says.

The Food Bank’s CalFresh Team is dedicated to getting eligible families like Julia’s connected to this valuable food assistance program. Last year, we helped 2,144 households apply for CalFresh, and families enrolled by the Food Bank were awarded over $5 million in benefits to buy groceries. Because CalFresh brings federal dollars into low-income communities, it is one of the best tools we have to end hunger.

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Learn more about our CalFresh Outreach

Read how our Policy & Advocacy Team is advocating to reform and improve the CalFresh system.