SF- Marin Food Bank: Churn White Paper

Understanding, Measuring, and Reducing CalFresh Churn

CalFresh has been proven as a cornerstone of our food safety net in California. Unfortunately, California suffers from a low CalFresh participation rate – the number of people participating compared to the number of people who are likely eligible. Our state ranks 45th in this measure, with a 60% participation rate.[1] In other words, at least 3 out of 10 people who are eligible are not participating in the program.[2]

We know that the harder it is to get on and stay on the program, the more difficult it will be to improve the participation rate. In fact, data back this up: Statewide data suggests that a big opportunity lies in streamlining and simplifying the semi-annual and annual renewal process, so that recipients do not stop receiving benefits for administrative reasons. We refer to this problem as ‘churn.’ ATC continues to prioritize churn reduction as an important part of improving CalFresh participation rates.

Recently, the SF-Marin Food Bank published a series of blog posts about CalFresh churn, all of which are now compiled into a consolidated white paper, CalFresh Churn: What is it, and how do we fix it? The white paper addresses the following topics:


[1] Calculating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Program Access Index: A Step-By-Step Guide: https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/PAI2015.pdf
[1] The California Department of Social Services has developed a Program Reach Index (PRI) for CalFresh which also accounts for the estimated number of low income undocumented individuals who are ineligible for CalFresh. In 2015, the PRI for California was 70%: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/research/PG3575.htm