On Tuesday, July 31, The Department of Public Social Services, Occupy Fights Hunger and Hunger Action LA will be hosting a CalFresh enrollment event from 12-6 pm in the Ralph’s Parking lot on the corner of Crenshaw and Rodeo. From 5-7, Meg Taylor from Large Marge Sustainables will conduct a healthy cooking demonstration and dinner. In Los Angeles County, 10% or residents, that’s 1.6 million people, are food insecure. CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) is California’s version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) SNAP has been the most effective anti-poverty program in the nation lifting 8.9% of Americans out of poverty in 2009. Yet, California is 49th in the nation in terms of participation rate with only 53% of eligible people taking advantage of the program. In LA County that number is even lower with only 40% enrolled. There are several reasons for this. Many people don’t know about the program. Many people don’t know how to access the system. Others believe that if they own a home or have a CD in the bank, they will not qualify. That is not the case as eligibility is based on income only. Many undocumented immigrants have been told to stay below the radar and not apply for government program. This is bad advice, because enrolling in CalFresh will not affect their immigration status. And while they themselves cannot get benefits, if their children are born in the US, they can. Since the recession, 50% of Americans are just one foreclosure, job loss or illness away from poverty. Therefore, if there is a program that can help them, they should take advantage of it.