LA County to Combat Food Insecurity for Foster Youth

LOS ANGELES, CA – Former foster youth, also known as transition age youth, who are between the ages of 18-24, are among the most vulnerable populations in the County. Through no fault of their own, these youth are often faced with a multitude of difficulties, including hunger and insufficient healthy food. In response, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to implement a comprehensive and strategic plan to enroll more transition age youth in CalFresh benefits.

“No one should have to go hungry in LA County,” said Supervisor Solis. “My action today expands the County’s outreach to some of our most vulnerable populations: youth who are in extended foster care or who have exited the foster care system. By doubling down on the County’s efforts to sign-up and provide CalFresh to these youth, we are recommitting ourselves to doing everything we can to serve the vulnerable youth of LA County.”

“One out of every three Transition Age Youth are identified as ‘food insecure’, meaning they skip meals or go without eating for a whole day simply because they don’t have enough money to eat,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “Many current and former foster youth are eligible for CalFresh, which could help them pay for food, but they often don’t even know they can apply. This motion, in conjunction with our housing motion last week which will expand housing opportunities for these young adults, will help put them on a path to a stable and successful adulthood instead of hunger and homelessness.”

Today’s action directs County Departments to ensure adequate training on the CalFresh application process, and to assist transition age youth with applying for CalFresh upon every placement change. The motion also requires County Departments to track eligibility and usage data, and report back to the Board of Supervisors every quarter on the access to CalFresh among transition age youth.

According to Chapin Hall’s California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (or CalYOUTH), one in five transition age youth reported that they ate less than they should, and one in six youth reported that someone in their household skipped meals because of unaffordability. Almost one quarter of the participants reported not eating for a whole day almost every month. Overall, 30% of the transition age youth who participated in the study qualified as being food insecure using the measure set by the United States Department of Agriculture. Most notably, according to the County Welfare Directors Association, at age 19, only 33% of current and former foster youth had ever accessed CalFresh.

Eligibility for CalFresh benefits is made on a case by case basis and considers the individual’s earned and unearned income, including any portion of the foster care payment they receive directly, including other assets, household composition, the amount of rent and utility expenses, student status, and other factors.