The County of Los Angeles has launched a campaign to help urge the hundreds of thousands of residents who are eligible to apply for food stamps to do so, and to simultaneously inform people about the program’s new name.

At the federal level, the Food Stamp program was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and in California it is now called CalFresh.

Currently, an estimated 1 million households receive the CalFresh benefit, and according to county officials that is only about half of the people eligible.

“There is a misperception that a certain type of person gets foods stamps. But we know by looking at the data that a lot of the people who receive CalFresh are working poor,” explained Bill Taylor, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).

The new campaign is an attempt to remove the stigma sometimes attached to applying for the benefit and among the additional changes are: 1) people do not have to go into an office to apply, they can now apply online or go to one of the faith-based or community organizations that are partnering with DPSSS; 2) immigration or citizenship status will not be impacted, if people apply; 3) undocumented parents whose children are United States citizens may be eligible to receive the CalFresh benefit for their offspring.

While some may think that in this time of budget tightening, launching a campaign to clean up an image of a program is not necessary, DPSS Director L. Browning, points out that getting more people to obtain the benefits they are eligible for translates into an immediate injection of additional revenue into the local economy.

“Millions of dollars could be coming into Los Angeles County, but aren’t because you have individuals who don’t know about the program or might not have applied for some reason or another. Any time someone becomes eligible for $100 or $200 in additional benefits, they spend those immediately . . . that money gets spent in the local community . . . this is helping Los Angeles by increasing the revenue that comes into the county; it’s really a stimulus-type program.”

To obtain CalFresh benefits, applicants may apply on-line at www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov, in person by visiting any DPSS District Office, or call (877) 597-4777 to request an application.