The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps (or CalFresh in California), is a critical part of the nation’s safety net. Though SNAP provides important assistance to families during periods of economic insecurity, not all eligible households participate. One reason enrollment may be low is because eligible households leave the program too early.
In this brief, we present evidence that paperwork burdens are causing otherwise eligible households to drop out of CalFresh, an especially troubling finding given California’s current economic situation. Using a conservative estimate, CPL found that more than half (55%) of households leaving the CalFresh program are still likely eligible for the program when they leave. CPL also found that people are six times more likely to leave CalFresh in the month that they have to recertify their eligibility. The policy brief is based on the accompanying working paper.
Photo credit: Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Select Media Coverage
The Imprint: Paperwork Problems Keep Hungry Californians from Getting Food Stamps (Feb 11, 2021)
The Daily Californian: Editorial: CalFresh must be made more accessible, less prohibitive for Californians (February 2, 2021)
KCRW: Segment on the new research (February 2, 2021)
Capital Public Radio: Interview with Matt Unrath about the research (February 1, 2021)
The Daily Californian: 500,000 eligible households leave CalFresh each year, policy brief finds (January 29, 2021)