Less money from food stamps leaves residents hurting

Many still eligible for WIC food checks

OW Staff Writer | 4/3/2014, midnight

Many Los Angeles County residents are hurting, not able to purchase as much food with their CalFresh (food stamps) cards as they were before, because the dollar value has been reduced.

However, many of these same residents are eligible for free WIC food checks and WIC health education.

The dollar value of CalFresh is lower for two reasons. The federal government’s Stimulus Package, which increased the dollars available to CalFresh recipients for several years, ended in 2013. People continued to receive CalFresh, but their benefits were reduced. Secondly President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill, which further reduced the amount of money a CalFresh recipient has to spend on food.

“Some people with a limited income are eligible for both WIC and CalFresh,” said Heidi Kent, executive director of South Los Angeles Health Projects (SLAHP). “Pregnant women, mothers who have recently given birth, infants and children to age five could be eligible for both.”

“People do not need to choose between WIC services and CalFresh if they are eligible for both. People with limited income can use the combination of these benefits to be better-fed and healthier,” Kent said. “Anyone on Medi-Cal—as long as that person is an infant, child to age five, pregnant woman or new mother—is automatically eligible for WIC. That is good news,” she continued.

At all WIC centers, pregnant women, parents and guardians of eligible children can receive special checks to buy healthy food. They can receive free nutrition, breastfeeding and health information and support. They can also receive referrals to healthcare and community services.

At the WIC centers managed by SLAHP, health counselors also share information about immunization against the flu, and information about all the shots infants and children need to be healthy.

“If pregnant women and parents with young children think they might be eligible for WIC, we encourage them to call us,” Kent said. Grandparents, foster parents and other guardians can also apply for infants and children to receive benefits.

SLAHP manages 11 WIC centers in Bell Gardens, Compton, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Paramount, South Gate and four communities in South Los Angeles.

Addresses of these WIC centers and information about WIC services are available at www.slahp.org.

SLAHP is a community health services division of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA.

To learn about WIC eligibility, phone (310) 661-3080.

To learn about CalFresh eligibility, phone DPSS at (877) 597-4777 or go online at http://dpss.lacounty.gov.

To learn about Medi-Cal eligibility, phone DPSS at (866) 613-3777.