Food Subsidy and Income Support Caseloads Decline
Public income support and food subsidies provide a critical safety net to those living in or at risk of poverty. These supports can work against the negative pressures of poverty, including the stress and strain on family relationships that can result from the challenges of paying for basic needs. To assess the demand for these services, this indicator measures caseloads of two core public assistance programs, CalWORKs and CalFresh.
How is San Bernardino County Doing?
CalWORKs and CalFresh caseloads have been declining over time:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture produces an annual report that shows the utilization of CalFresh through the Program Access Index (PAI). The county-level PAI is an indicator of how well counties reach individuals with CalFresh benefits. The PAI compares the number ofindividuals who participate in CalFresh and the number of individuals who qualify for CalFresh based on their income, but do not receive CalFresh.2 Among California’s 58 counties, San Bernardino ranks 4th for program access.
CalWORKs provides cash benefits for the care of low-income children. CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) provides low-income households with assistance for the purchase of food.
Most programs require income and asset limitations, as well as citizenship or permanent legal resident status. Other eligibility factors may apply such as county or state residency, age, or time in the program (time-limits).
- After peaking in 2016, CalFresh caseloads fell for the second consecutive year in 2017/18 to 157,948, dropping 6% in a single year.
- Over the past five years, CalFresh caseloads dropped a total of 4%.
- CalWORKs caseloads have shown a steady decline each year, dropping 22% since 2014.
- While San Bernardino County is home to 4.8% of California’s households, 7.7% of the 1.29 million California households receiving cash public assistance or CalFresh reside in San Bernardino County.1
- More than three-quarters (78%) of CalWORKs recipients are children and just under half (47%) of CalFresh recipients are children.
- Veterans make up only 1% of CalFresh recipients and even fewer of CalWORKs recipients.