Fact Sheet

CalFresh Reduces Hunger in Every County in California, but Changes at the Federal Level Could Cut Benefits

Endnotes are available in the PDF version of this Fact Sheet.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — known as CalFresh in California — is the cornerstone of the federal government’s effort to reduce hunger and help struggling families put food on the table. An estimated 4.3 million individuals on average will receive CalFresh food assistance each month during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which began this past July 1. Of the 10 counties with the highest shares of residents participating in CalFresh, five are in the San Joaquin Valley: Tulare (25.5% of residents receive CalFresh), Fresno (21.8%), Merced (20.5%), Madera (18.5%), and Kern (18.3%). (See Map below.) In addition to helping households afford food, SNAP benefits also boost local economies, with every $1 in benefits producing as much as $1.79 in economic activity. During 2016-17, an estimated $7.1 billion in SNAP benefits will flow from the federal government directly to California households, potentially creating $12.7 billion in economic activity throughout the state. (See Table below.)

SNAP lifts families out of poverty and has been shown to improve children’s health and well being. Yet at the federal level, Republicans have proposed severe cuts to SNAP in each of the last six years. If President-elect Trump and the Republican-led Congress follow through on cutting annual federal funding for SNAP, many families would be plunged into poverty, and children could be deprived of the nutrition necessary to stay healthy and reach their full potential.