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Westside Food Bank Struggles to Meet Increased Demand as CalFresh Benefits Expire

Local food banks urge community support as Southern Californians face heightened food insecurity

Local food banks in Southern California are bracing themselves for a surge in demand as the emergency allotments and additional benefits under CalFresh, California’s version of the federal food stamps program, which ended March 26. This is likely to result in many recipients losing hundreds of dollars per month.

CalFresh currently serves over 1.5 million people in Los Angeles County and over 665,000 people in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The average recipient is set to lose around $82 per month, while families could lose up to $200 per month.

With the ending of benefits, local area food banks are preparing for a potential “hunger cliff.” Rising costs for groceries, housing, and utilities in a volatile economy are putting more of a strain on the millions of Southern Californians that rely on CalFresh.

Westside Food Bank in Santa Monica is already unsure if it will be able to handle the anticipated increase in demand for food supplies. 

“With the loss of these pandemic-era benefits, we are facing a severe escalation in hunger,” said Westside Food Bank President and CEO Genevieve Riutort.

According to Westside Food Bank, they are already providing the equivalent of 1.7 million more meals than they were before the pandemic. The organization is urging the community to come together to help their neighbors in need during this difficult time.

Those who wish to donate to the Westside Food Bank can do so by clicking here. For those seeking food pantries near them, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank website offers a directory of such pantries.

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