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'Food Stamp' Applications Increase in County

But more than half of eligible participants still not enrolled

In Sonoma County, grants for Calfresh—of the federal food stamp program—shot up by 24 percent in June, more than doubling the number of aid recipients since 2008, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Despite the soaring numbers (31,000 registered in June) county staff estimate more than half eligible parties aren't receiving any federal aid for nutrition.

According to health advocates, the $15 million left unspent in county aid means more spending long-term to counteract poor health.

“Some of our most significant health problems are directly related to what people eat,” said Mary Maddux-Gonzalez, a Redwood Community Health Coalition medical officer, to the Press Democrat.

Officials hope that a recent redesign of CalFresh will make it easier for low income populations to access the program. Rather than requiring several in-person visits, , and be aided by several local centers.

At Sonoma's La Luz Center, applications rolling out the new online system. 

But experts think that the continued discrepancy in recipiants stems from fear of deportation and confusion among immigrant applications. The CalFresh program accepts U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who've lived in the country for five years, receive disability benefits, or are under 18. The legal families and children of illegal immigrants are also entitled to assistance.

But receiving food stamps doesn't mean a family is home free. Currently the freshest sources of produce, Sonoma's farmers markets, —though several are working to implament a payment system this year.

And the slim food stamp budget leaves little room for price fluctuations or indulgence.

Read Sonoma Patch writer Morgan Ray's account of a .

Dee Baucher September 02, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Brilliant! Lets encourage all illegal immigrants to have more children here (with free prenatal care and deliveries and free health care and schools for all the children) so that they can have more and more free food stamps per month! Is there any wonder we have more children being born to illegal parents than to legal families? (check out the delivery statistics over the last decade at all hospitals in our county; although no official statistics related to illegal residents is obtainable, those deliveries paid by Medical for non-English speaking women, provides a clear estimate for what has occurred.) These are policies that encourage illegal residents to have large families that they are not prepared to support themselves, with reliance on public resources because basic support is being guaranteed.
Ann Carranza September 02, 2011 at 07:50 PM
@Dee -- as long as there are jobs, immigrants will come. The U.S. depends on their labor (i.e. cheap labor). Let's not decry the services people receive because they are working ill-paid, often seasonal jobs that are not wanted by others--because of low pay and harsh conditions. These jobs do not pay a living wage, hence the need for additional services to fill in the gaps. Low income services are available to those of low income status (do you see some cause and effect at play?). The solution has always been damn up the jobs if you don't like immigration (both documented and undocumented). Immigrant labor has been the backbone of U.S. free and cheap-labor since colonial times (remember slavery?) No one, ultimately, wants to address the root sources of immigration because the situation is far more complex than often perceived. Economies are intricately intertwined, whether anyone wants to admit to that or not. It's always easy to blame hard-working low-income people for the long-standing errors in our system.
Dee Baucher September 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Ann: The bottom line.... "cheap labor" isn't cheap! Somebody is paying for all the supplements to the salaries for those not earning a "living wage". The tax payers are paying for those supplements (in the form of food stamps and free medical care and free schools, libraries, housing, etc.) not the employers who are making huge profits from the use of the cheap labor. Meanwhile, we have a huge population of unemployed workers who have gone without salary increases, because the ongoing illegal cheap labor undermines any leverage they would have to demand increased wages. This is why Cesar Chavez was so against the use of illegal labor, and so intent upon forming the United Farm Workers! The solution is to fine employers who use illegal labor, and to penalize those who come into our country illegally and take jobs and resources from those who are not law breakers or "line jumpers", but who have waited to come here legally and have legitimate rights to take jobs and use public resources if they actually qualify for them. (No lying on paperwork with false names, addresses, unreported income, etc.) Unfortunately, many of the "hard-working low-income people" you speak about have exploited our system of assisting those who actually are in need. For most Americans, our ancestors came as immigrants and did not come here with a hand out for food stamps or any other supplementation to their incomes. This is the rub.
Ann Carranza September 02, 2011 at 11:34 PM
@ Dee, cheap labor was only "cheap" during slavery (and I believe we outlawed that). I reiterate--the only way to stop "problems" with immigrants, undocumented and documented, is to dam up jobs. Yes, fining employers who hire undocumented workers could be helpful (even though the Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in removing this from immigration reform). There is strong complicity between the business community and the government in maintaining the status quo. You wrote, "The tax payers are paying for those supplements (in the form of food stamps and free medical care and free schools, libraries, housing, etc.) not the employers who are making huge profits from the use of the cheap labor." That is part of the point I am making. Living wages, anyone? Meanwhile, I do not believe that cutting prenatal, neonatal and emergency medical care is appropriate nor is it appropriate to have people undernourished and hungry (including those newborn American citizens)--especially when, for the most part, these workers are doing exactly what they came here to do: WORK. If there are jobs they will come. The belief that "our ancestors came as immigrants and did not come here with a hand out for food stamps" is an idealized vision. Soup kitchens and bread lines have a long standing history. Today's immigrants come to work (they don't come for the foodstamps); to think otherwise is mostly nonsense.
Dee Baucher September 03, 2011 at 06:14 AM
Ann: There is a big difference from soup kitchens and bread lines that became prevalent during the "great depression", and the greatly enhanced social welfare supplements that are being supplied today. When my great grandparents came to this country they toiled in "sweat shops" for low wages and did without "free" health care or "free" food stamps or any other supplements to their income. They saved every penny to educate their children, and they did not buy new clothes or cars, and certainly did not spend money on items like weekly beer parties. They did not make demands from others, but depended upon themselves. And they did not displace other American workers or undercut the wages of other American workers. That is not an "idealized vision". That is the truth. Since so many Americans share this same knowledge about how their ancestors came here, there is great resentment for the current wave of immigrants who refuse to even acknowledge that this massive illegal migration has terrible consequences for others.

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