I had the pleasure of interviewing Code for America, via phone, and learned some amazing new things that I felt are worth sharing. Code for America is a nonprofit that works with the government to improve how they serve the public. Monica, the Partnership Specialist, works diligently to build relationships with the local government and communities. Monica is a first-generation Latina college graduate who comes from a low-income family, and she previously worked for the government.
One of the goals of Code for America is to demystify CalFresh and deliver change. Previously, you could only apply for CalFresh on a desktop computer. Now, there is a mobile service to assist in the CalFresh application process. They call it the GetCalFresh tool, and it enables applicants to upload their verification documents, ask questions through online chat, and improve the overall application process by making it accessible by phone. This method of application really aligns with where we currently stand in technology, with everyone having a mobile device and almost everyone having access to the internet in some way.
According to Code for America, approximately one-third of Californians qualify for CalFresh, but do not have it. Maria, a Code for America representative, says that it simply makes sense for us to, “use the technology we have” to make governmental assistance programs such as this one more accessible to the general public. Especially in younger generations, where cell phones have basically become our lives, why not use it to gain assistance that so many of us apparently need.
What need, you ask? Here are some relevant statistics for those who may remain skeptical of how impactful CalFresh can be, as stated by Code for America:
- One in ten UC students do not have easy access to nutritious food
- 25 %report dropping a class due to food related struggles
There is a stigma around receiving public assistance, and Code for America is ultimately trying to eliminate it. There is still a long way to go, but we could try doing events such as super clinics, done at UC Berkeley, where a mass number of students are abetted in the application process within a certain amount of hours or over a course of a few days.
Photo Credit: Code For America.