GCC CalFresh Ambassadors Continue the Fight Against Food Insecurity

Students host their first tabling event to inform their peers

Jacqueline Kamei, Editor-in-Chief

From March 14 to March 18, Glendale Community College’s CalFresh Ambassadors hosted their first in-person tabling event where they continued to inform their peers about the benefits of using CalFresh in the ongoing fight against food insecurity. “It was exciting to see them share their knowledge on the CalFresh application process all throughout the week,” said Melanie Kasparian, the on-campus advisor for the California Community College Student Ambassador Program. “It was also great to see so many students approach the table with questions about CalFresh and the application process, since it was information they hadn’t been exposed to before.” 

CalFresh Ambassador Katherine Juarez, a fourth-year business administration major, expressed similar sentiments. “The thing I loved about tabling was being able to connect [to] students and help them further their application,” Juarez said. She added, “What [I] have enjoyed most about being a CalFresh Student Ambassador is being able to spread this information to students and being able to help students because worrying about where your next meal is coming from should not be a worry while … trying  to pursue your educational goal.”

In informing students about CalFresh, Kasparian noted that there is often a misconception that CalFresh’s application process is difficult and stress-inducing when in actuality it is a straightforward process. “GCC has worked to eliminate that barrier and offers assistance with completing CalFresh applications,” she explained. “If a student is interested in CalFresh but feels overwhelmed in regards to starting that process, they can email [email protected] to make an appointment with someone who can help them with applying.” Juarez affirms that the application process should not take long.  “It took only 10 minutes to apply. Not to mention it’s all through online, and if you need assistance, the service number on the application is very helpful.” 

In the continuous efforts to debunk misconceptions and stigmas around using CalFresh and similar programs, Juarez wanted to emphasize that many people incorrectly believe that they have to repay the money that was given to them. Another misconception is the idea that “when service providers cannot culturally and linguistically support you, it’s difficult to ask for help with enrollment,” said Juarez. Additionally, she pointed out that while some are under the impression that earning an income would cause one to not be eligible for CalFresh benefits, this is actually not true. “You may still qualify because there are income eligibility guidelines,” said Juarez. 

“Most people don’t know that CalFresh has different eligibility requirements for students versus non-students,” Kasparian said. “As a student who wishes to apply, you don’t need to share your parents’ tax-return information to apply. You don’t need to worry about CalFresh benefits negatively impacting your financial aid, either. If you are an EOP student, part-time worker, CalGrant recipient, or eligible for work-study, you might be eligible for CalFresh as well. Students can receive up to 250 dollars in monthly benefits, so it’s definitely worth going through the application and assessment process.” 

Beyond CalFresh, the Ambassadors also promote other resources that could help those who are food insecure. Kasparian describes other food insecurity programs and resources available to students such as the Food Pantry and the Fresh Success Program. Students may book appointments to pick up free food from the Food Pantry, which is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. The Fresh Success Program “provides assistance to students who receive CalFresh and are taking eligible courses, which includes career, technical, vocational, and English acquisition courses,” said Kasparian. 

While the fight against food insecurity is far from over, the ambassadors will continue to work toward helping students attain much needed benefits. “Students can anticipate virtual classroom visits and more tabling events around campus to spread information on CalFresh,” Kasparian noted.  

 

To make an appointment for help with completing the CalFresh application, email [email protected]

To learn more about CalFresh and to complete an online application, visit:

https://www.getcalfresh.org/  

To learn more about GCC’s Food Pantry and to schedule an appointment, visit:

https://www.glendale.edu/students/student-services/student-basic-needs/food-support/food-pantry  

To apply to the Fresh Success Program, visit:

https://glendale.wufoo.com/forms/gcc-fresh-success-program-application-assessment

 

Jacqueline Kamei can be reached at [email protected]