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The Importance of Good Nutrition

Welcome to the November edition of Aging and Still Engaging. The content of this month’s column has been provided by Kat Lauterback, Program Manager for CalFresh/General Assistance at the SLO County Department of Social Services. Today’s column focuses on good nutrition and financial assistance available to those in need. About 1 in 6 people living in San Luis Obispo County face hunger. Good nutrition leads to good health. If you or someone you know needs help obtaining nutritious food, the CalFresh Program may be able to help. CalFresh is California’s version of the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) Program. Today’s CalFresh program is very different from the Food Stamp Program of the past. Gone are the stamps and many of the complicated requirements. Today, CalFresh helps low-income people buy food using an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card that looks like a debit card. This EBT card can be used to purchase food and seeds at stores and our local Farmers Markets. CalFresh helps people of all ages stretch their food budget. The program also improves the local economy because every dollar of CalFresh money spent returns $ 1.79 in local spending. Monthly benefit amounts vary based on income level and the number of people living in the home. Citizens of the United States or non-citizens who are legally residing in the U.S. may be eligible to CalFresh. There are a lot of myths about CalFresh, and one is that if you have a job you won’t be eligible for benefits. Many people who receive CalFresh are employed. Another myth is that you can’t own a home or have a car and get CalFresh assistance. The fact is that in most cases there is no resource or property limit for CalFresh. You may be eligible even if you have money in savings, retirement accounts, own a car or home. Fifteen dollars ($15) is the smallest amount of benefits that can be received. Even $15 a month can help stretch a household food purchasing power. However, most individuals and families qualify for more than the $ 15 per month minimum benefit. Older adults (age 60 and up) or disabled individuals may be able to increase the amount of CalFresh benefits that they receive each month by providing information about their out-of-pocket medical expenses. As of October 1, 2017, improvements to the CalFresh medical deduction for Older Adults or for Disabled Individuals can really increase the amount of CalFresh benefits that an older or disabled adult may receive. Examples of out of pocket medical expenses include items such as the costs of medical insurance coverage, co-pays, the cost for doctor prescribed medications, and the cost of transportation for medical treatment. Other recent changes that benefit older adults and disabled individuals include streamlined application processes and verification requirements that make it is easier to qualify. To apply on-line, visit GetCalFresh.org or apply through the local Department of Social Services Office at 1-800-834-3002. DSS has offices in Paso Robles, Atascadero, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Nipomo. The San Luis Obispo County Commission on Aging invites the public to join us at the Veteran’s Hall on Grand Ave. in San Luis Obispo on Friday, November 17 from 10 a.m. – Noon. That day Monica Anderson with the United Way of SLO County will speak about the organization’s 24-hour information and referral phone services (2-1-1). For more information about the Commission on Aging, visit www.slocounty.ca.gov/coa.htm, or call 235-5779.

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