Too many people who still need and qualify for food assistance from CalFresh are losing help for administrative reasons- NOT because they no longer need or qualify for help. This interruption of service creates hunger, hardship, and instability for that family.It also usually leads to a re-application, generating redundant paper work both for the family and the county serving them. This problem is called churn and it is hampering Californians’ participation in CalFresh (or SNAP), the nation’s number one defense against hunger.
Unfortunately, too many people who need food and who qualify for CalFresh are losing their benefits for administrative reasons and having to re-apply. These interruptions of service lead to several significant problems:
  • Sudden gaps in access to food create hunger, hardship, and instability for families.
  • Re-applications for CalFresh generate redundant paper work both for families and the 58 California county social service agencies assisting them.
  • More emergency requests for food and basic-needs assistance squeeze local food banks and community charities.
  • Loss of federally-funded food benefits coming into California during the gap in service costs local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and the entire food sector approximately $1.85 in economic stimulus for every $1 of CalFresh benefits.

Reducing Churn to Zero

  1. Track the problem
    • Further refine CDSS and county tracking of churn, as reported in the Data Dashboard for CalFresh by using standard codes and metrics across counties that can help i) separate out administrative versus eligibility-related reasons for loss of benefits and ii) identify the specific administrative processes linked to the most eligible people inadvertently losing benefits.
    • Drive towards the goal of zero administrative churn.
  2. Identify solutions
    • Design streamlined forms and processes for CalFresh recertification, semi-annual reports, and other client interactions identified as inadvertently causing loss of benefits for eligible people (such as notices to clients, use of call centers, appointment scheduling, document submission), based on county practices proven to reduce administrative churn.
    • Incentivize county innovations to reduce administrative churn, for example, San Francisco County’s successful pilot with Code for America to text consumers a message alerting them to reach the call center as soon as possible to re-certify their eligibility.
  3. Standardize for all consumers statewide
    • Rapidly implement statewide the new streamlined forms, processes, and successful innovations in all 58 counties.
    • Recognize those counties that dramatically improve their churn rates and provide targeted assistance to those counties with persistently problematic churn rates.
Statewide, one in five applications received  at a county social services office is from someone who was on CalFresh in the last 90 days. That means 20% of the caseload requires being re-enrolled again! Link for PDF
See how your county stacks up! CalFresh 90 day Churn Rate  by County. Link for PDF