Statewide storm recovery response boosts CalFresh benefits

Fallout of recent winter storms leads to multiple recovery responses from the state to assist counties most impacted by the severity

TULARE COUNTY – The state is taking various measures to assist residents impacted by recent winter storms, including added CalFresh benefits to make up for lost meal times.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provided these additional benefits for select areas within 28 counties, including Tulare and Fresno counties. The benefits were automatically added to CalFresh recipients’ electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards between March 31 and April 1 to help replace food that was lost during the recent winter storms due to flooding and power outages.

“To protect Californians throughout these recent storm events, it has been an all-hands-on-deck response to ensure that people, especially our most vulnerable, have what they need,” CDSS director Kim Johnson said via statement.

With this aid, affected recipients received an additional 50% of their standard payments, although it is currently unclear how long these benefits will be available for use. In Tulare County, the benefits will affect citizens in the regions of postal codes 93633 and 93603, which cover the communities of Cedar Grove, Hartland and Sierra Glenn.

In Fresno County, affected residents are located under postal codes 93628, 93621 and 93641, in the cities of: Hume, Grant Grove Village, Wilsonia, Hume Station, Grant Grove, Dunlap, Miramonte, Yokuts Valley, Pinehurst, Etheda Springs, Deer Crossing and Cedarbrook.

According to CDSS, these extra benefits are another component of the state’s robust, all-of-government emergency response to recent weather events. These responses included the deployment of personnel and resources to protect communities and support recovery efforts in the state.

“I would like to thank our federal partners for their swift action in helping people and families who were impacted by these recent disasters put food back on the table,” Johnson said via statement.

In addition to added CalFresh benefits, a request from Governor Gavin Newsom for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration was approved by the White House on April 3. Just less than a week prior to the acceptance date, the governor made the request as a way to strengthen the emergency response and recovery for various state counties amid severe storm impacts.

“This declaration brings in more vital resources as we continue to work in lockstep with local, state and federal partners to support communities that have been turned upside down by these storms,” Newsom said via statement.

According to the governor’s office, this declaration will help citizens in impacted counties like Tulare and Kern counties, amongst a handful of others, by supplying them with federal funding. With the declaration, residents within these regions are now eligible for several programs and supports, including housing assistance, food aid, counseling, and medical and legal services.

The declaration also includes public assistance to help state, tribal and local governments with the costs associated with ongoing emergency response and recovery, as well as hazard mitigation, according to the office.

In addition to supplying CalFresh users with more funds, the CDSS is continuing to work  to help individuals impacted by the storms. They are doing this by coordinating with local officials to assist with food, water and other supplies like cots and blankets to ensure residents have what they need.

The CDSS also recently published an updated Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant Californians. The guide is available in English and Spanish and supplies residents with information on what type of federal, state and local disaster assistance services are available in California’s impacted communities, regardless of immigration status.

According to the governor’s office, the CDSS is also taking measures to support the undocumented workers and communities within California who may be ineligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance due to their immigration status. To do this, the CDSS is mobilizing existing funds from the state’s Rapid Response Fund to provide disaster recovery services to immigrant citizens experiencing flood and recent weather impacts.

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