Store market

UCLA Store will accept CalFresh cards after federal approval

The UCLA store market at Ackerman Union will soon accept CalFresh.

According to CalFresh website.

The website says the amount individuals receive depends on many factors, including household size, income, and monthly expenses. Monthly benefits are loaded onto electronic benefit transfer cards, which can be used at any grocery store that accepts EBT cards.

Associated Students UCLA has been studying the program for many years but has not been able to meet all of the requirements to accept CalFresh thus far, UCLA spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado said in a statement. press release sent by e-mail. ASUCLA recently switched to a new system and is about to receive federal approval to become a CalFresh retailer, she added.

Once approved, ASUCLA will announce when it can accept CalFresh in the marketplace at the UCLA store’s Ackerman Union location, Alvarado said.

Sarah Wang, external vice president of the Undergraduate Student Association Council, said the UCLA store has completed all other steps to accept CalFresh on campus, including installing the necessary machines to accept cards. EBT. However, she said the university is waiting for a federal Department of Agriculture inspector to approve the machines before the UCLA store can begin accepting CalFresh.

CalFresh EBT cards can only be used to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages, Alvarado said. These restrictions are based on guidelines from the Department of Agriculture, the federal agency in charge of these benefits, she added. Alvarado said students cannot use CalFresh benefits to pay for, among other things, cleaning supplies, household products and hygiene items.

Emily Yu, USAC’s financial support commissioner, said she’s glad CalFresh-eligible students can use their on-campus benefits.

“I think having more accessibility to this is always a good thing,” said the second-year linguistics and computer science student. “It’s just easier, less hassle to go to Westwood Village and it increases their ability to choose what they want.”

Yu added that she thinks more students need programs like CalFresh since the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on students’ financial well-being.

Eva Jussim, co-director of academic relations in the Office of the External Vice President, also said her team has been focused on addressing food insecurity on campus, particularly because COVID-19 has changed the financial situation of many students. She added that the introduction of California Assembly Bill 214 served as a catalyst for the work of the Office of the External Vice President in addressing food insecurity.

If passed, AB 214 would allocate $15 million to meal donation programs, food pantries, CalFresh enrollment and other programs that directly provide nutritional assistance to students. The funds would also be used to help students in housing difficulty find stable housing, according to the bill.

Jussim said his team has had problems getting CalFresh on campus because the program’s eligibility requirements are complicated and difficult for students to navigate.

“There are so many specific eligibility requirements or little loopholes that can make someone eligible or make them ineligible…it can also lead to so much confusion and disillusion among students who want to enroll,” said said the second-year political science student. “There are thousands of students at UCLA who are eligible but just don’t know it.”

However, Jussim said she encourages students to contact the CalFresh team in the Community Programs office if they think they may be eligible for the program. She added that CalFresh team members are experts in helping students determine if they are eligible for the program since they have been advocating for CalFresh to be accepted on campus for years.

Most work-study students receive Cal Grant A or B, having a child, or working more than 20 hours a week outside of UCLA qualifies for CalFresh and can receive up to $204 a month for groceries, Alvarado said.

Alvarado added that UCLA is working to reduce food insecurity on campus through the Economic Crisis Response Team and programs such as the food cupboard, Basic Needs-ASUCLA meal programs and the distribution of meal vouchers through the CPO.

Wang added that her office is working to eliminate any hesitation students may have when applying for CalFresh stipends.

“A lot of the hesitancy to use CalFresh comes from the stigma around food stamps,” Wang said. “But there are so many people who use CalFresh who could really benefit from it, so we’re trying to redefine what it means to be a CalFresh recipient and remove any stigma or shame associated with participating in the program. .”

She said her office is coordinating marketing campaigns to encourage students who think they are eligible to apply for CalFresh. Some of the preliminary plans include giving Instagram giveaways, coordinating efforts with the Pac-12 Student Union, and reaching out to the media to publicize the program.

Yu also said many students can benefit from CalFresh, but the university should do more to address student food insecurity.

“CalFresh is definitely a great program that students should use if they can, but…it doesn’t directly address (food insecurity issues),” Yu said. to help, and I hope this is one of the many steps the university is taking to alleviate student food insecurity.”