SF Chronicle: Food program for women and children won’t allow home delivery; advocates call for change

Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2020

Ordering food online for home delivery is a lifeline for many during the coronavirus pandemic. But people who rely on public food assistance, such as CalFresh, the state’s version of food stamps, and WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for low-income women, infants and children, have been required to personally shop at stores with their benefit cards, thus increasing their risks of contagion.

For CalFresh, that changed starting Tuesday, when California said recipients could order online for deliveries from Walmart and Amazon. The state had asked the federal government to expedite online purchasing so vulnerable people reliant on CalFresh — seniors, people with disabilities and others — could use delivery to avoid in-person interactions at stores. Scott Murray, a spokesman for the California Department of Social Services, said the state is working to bring other retailers on board as quickly as possible.

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“In a moment of such crisis, with all of us focused on keeping our families safe — and fed — we need to make it as easy as possible for people to access nutritional food,” said Hilary Dockray, senior policy analyst with Alluma, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides technology and policy support for agencies that manage benefits programs, in the advocates’ statement. “WIC participants ... should have the same opportunity to purchase food online as everyone else in our state. ... These families face other challenges in accessing support, but this is one barrier that’s easily removed.”

Read the full article at sfchronicle.com.

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