Results from the Alliance to Transform CalFresh Equity Survey of CalFresh Outreach Providers in California Counties

In March 2017 the Alliance to Transform CalFresh developed a survey that was shared via the SNAP Listserv with 295 CalFresh outreach staff from around the state. The survey asked them to share observations about their clients’ CalFresh application experiences. We received a total of 46 responses (a 16% response rate) from 11 counties plus 9 anonymous ones (some of the 9 may be from duplicate counties).

When application assisters and outreach advocates gather from across the state, one of the issues that continually percolates through the conversations is the concern about equity in the CalFresh program. We often hear stories about clients of color waiting longer to be seen at eligibility offices, being asked to provide more documentation than seems necessary, or receiving judgmental comments by an eligibility worker about their circumstances.

For a long time these were anecdotal stories; though thematic, it was difficult to grasp the overarching commonality or the frequency of the incidents. Without sufficient statewide data from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) or the Civil Rights Unit (CRU) we remained unable to identify the true depth and breadth of inequity that the anecdotal stories may represent.

What follows is a summary of the results of the survey and below are a few notable findings:

  • 66% of respondents reported they most commonly served communities of color.
  • 62% of respondents served mostly non-English speaking populations.
  • 31% of respondents said that multiple verifications of citizenship and ID are requested more often from people of color, despite the electronic databases available to verify this information.
  • 33% of respondents noticed their clients of color receive poorer treatment from eligibility workers.
  • Spanish language readers are most likely to receive written documents in the wrong language.
  • Though counties are likely to make interpreters available to those needing them, there is still significant inequity when it comes to the quality of the interpretation and the additional wait times when an interpreter is need.
  • There is a significant rate of uncertain responses: usually about a third and up to 46% of responses were “not sure” which indicates a gap in information and shows that more information is needed to understand how inequity may be affecting access to CalFresh in California Counties.

It is important to note that these demographics are based on clients who are being helped by outreach staff– and that it is not an accurate representation of demographics of the population on CalFresh in California overall. Read the full report here…