As California’s hottest summer on record winds to a close and extreme drought lingers throughout the state, San Benito County residents continue to depend on state food supplements directed to California counties hardest-hit by the four-year drought.
The first boxes of food provided through the California Department of Social Services Drought Food Assistance Program (DFAP) were distributed in May 2014. Nearly half – 24 – of California’s 58 counties qualify for the program, including San Benito.
The monthly food boxes began arriving locally soon after the program was announced. To date, some 3,600 boxes have gone into the hands of local residents. That’s the equivalent of 72,000 meals.
DFAP boxes are primarily distributed through Community Food Bank’s center at 1133 San Felipe Road and at distributed locations usually each month.
The pre-packaged DFAP boxes contain nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food, designed to provide enough food for a household of four people for about five days. Food items include canned fruits and vegetables, soup, peanut butter, rice, and beans.
“Communities are feeling the impacts of the drought, and this assistance will help families put food on the table,” said CDSS Director Will Lightbourne. “As the drought persists, we’ll continue delivering assistance to where it is most needed.”
The DFAP program is made possible through $687 million emergency drought legislation, signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in March 2014. The bill included $25 million in food assistance for the counties most impacted by the drought.
Qualifying counties are those in which the unemployment rate is higher than the 2013 statewide average and which have a higher share of agricultural workers than the state as a whole. Besides San Benito, counties receiving DFAP assistance are: Amador, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba.
Individuals receiving the food box are asked to self-certify that they live in a household where drought conditions have caused their underemployment or unemployment.