There’s been a lot of talk about the burden being placed on the state’s food banks recently. The number of people depending on services like Second Harvest is up due to the recession, while the number of donations is down. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) is trying to tackle the problem, and claims that it can be resolved if the state reviews its rules.
According to Lofgren, about 4.2 million people in California are eligible for food stamps, but just over 2 million actually bother to apply. The reason, she says, is that the state makes it difficult. Currently, the process involved in applying for food stamps includes filling out a 13-page form and getting fingerprinted. “Most states don’t do it like California does,” she says. The state is left with $4.9 billion in unclaimed funds, while people are turning to the food banks instead.
Second Harvest’s CEO Kathy Jackson agrees. She says that people are turning to food banks even though they have alternatives, and as a result, people who do need help are left under-served. For now, Second Harvest is visiting needy neighborhoods, helping people to apply for federal aid. This, however, is a stopgap measure, until the real issue—a burdensome application process—is addressed.