CalFresh provides 200,000 Riverside County residents access to healthy food

Posted on 5/26/2021 5:20:50 PM


May 21, 2021

Contact:  Angela Maria Naso, public information specialist

                 (951) 660-1925,


CalFresh provides 200,000 Riverside County residents access to healthy food
The statewide program generates $1.03 billion annually for local grocers, markets, eateries 

Many people in Riverside County are struggling to afford the costs of healthy food at the grocery store, and Marivel Castañeda has a simple message for them: 

“Go to to see if you qualify for help,” advises Castañeda, a community outreach worker with the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). “It only takes 10 minutes!” 

May is CalFresh Awareness Month. Antipoverty advocates like Castañeda statewide are spotlighting the vital contributions California’s largest food assistance program make to people and communities.  

In Riverside County, CalFresh currently serves close to 200,000 children and adults and generates $1.03 billion in annual economic activity for local grocers and eateries, according to the program’s calculator.  

“CalFresh helps children, families, college students, the elderly and disabled. People who are homeless. We don’t know if people are going to bed at night without meals,” says Castañeda, who frequently speaks to individuals and families who are struggling economically. 

When the pandemic hit in Riverside County, enrollment in CalFresh grew by 20% as economic uncertainty took hold.  As communities slowly recover, CalFresh is here to provide workforce training to promote independence. 

“These benefits help people become economically stable,” said Allison Gonzalez, assistant director of Self Sufficiency for Riverside County DPSS. “They are lifelines for our disabled and retirees, many of whom have worked their entire lives and need help to buy healthy food in order to meet their nutritional needs.”                           

Kalayah Wilson, a UC Riverside student in her twenties, says CalFresh allows her to eat healthier, live independently and focus on her studies. She works part time at a campus food pantry where she urges fellow peers to check and see if they qualify for the county-run program. 

“Sometimes all you need is that one person encouraging you to apply,” Wilson said.  



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