CalFresh, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is the largest food assistance program in the United States. In California, CalFresh is the state’s largest food assistance program, providing monthly benefits through an electronic benefit card to low-income households. These benefits can help supplement a household’s food budget, ensuring that they can purchase healthy and nutritious food to maintain adequate nutritional levels.

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For those struggling to afford nutritious food, the CalFresh Program may be able to provide assistance. If you need help navigating the application process, Heart of Ida, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Long Beach, California, can help. Their mission is to support seniors in need with programs and services that sustain independence and connection within their community.

Heart of Ida was founded in 2008 by sisters Dina Berg and Keri Reich in honor of their grandmother, Ida. Ida worked on behalf of older adults, and the positive experiences the sisters had while accompanying her led them to form an organization that serves the needs of older adults. In 2020, Heart of Ida pivoted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with the creation of the Stay Connected program.

Stay Connected is a wraparound approach to connect vulnerable seniors to resources and their community. Among its components, the program offers registered seniors bi-monthly recorded messages with up-to-date information on resources and events, an annual publication called AgeWell Magazine & Resource Guide that highlights Long Beach resources and interests for older adults and their families, and weekly one-on-one phone calls from volunteers or staff to the most isolated older adults who need a more personal connection.

Volunteers also help with pet walks and friendly visits to homebound, low-income older adults, and one-on-one technology assistance is provided, including help with CalFresh applications. The program also provides a pantry that offers essentials such as canned food, household items, and hygiene products.

If you or someone you know needs help with CalFresh or any other offering, Heart of Ida’s Stay Connected program is available to help. They can be reached by calling 562-570-3548 or emailing [email protected].