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CalFresh's pandemic-related assistance set to expire

Millions of Californians will soon see a big drop in CalFresh benefits
Millions of Californians will soon see a big drop in CalFresh benefits 01:57

SACRAMENTO – Many Californians are bracing for tighter budgets ahead of a pandemic measure ending soon.

Families receiving CalFresh benefits also qualified for extra money following the COVID-19 shutdowns. The expiration comes amid high costs of food, rent and gas.

Stretching a dollar these days may be on the brink of snapping.

"We find more people needing to come get assistance with food because their budget is just not stretching," Amy Dierlam, a CalFresh outreach director for River City Food Bank.

It was quiet inside the food bank's midtown location Monday, but it is already preparing for a possible influx of more people seeking food.

For roughly three years, families affected by pandemic shutdowns qualified for extra money to supplement their monthly food budgets through the state, known as CalFresh Emergency Allotment.

The help will expire at the end of February following the end of the federal public health emergency.

"So, what's going to happen is March will be the last month that they get the extra deposit from the state," Dierlam said.

Regular CalFresh benefits are not going away for those who qualify.

Stubbornly high inflation remains, so what can families do? Dierlam told CBS13 now is the time for families to update their budget with the county with information like current housing costs, income, childcare or medical costs.

Last year, River City Food Bank said it saw a 41 percent increase in the people it served.

"It's hard to see quite honestly," Dierlam said.

If families are struggling to buy food and were affected by last month's floods and power loss, they may qualify for CalFresh Disaster Response. People do need to be on CalFresh to get that help.

Also, there is a hot food waiver until Feb. 20 for people already on CalFresh.

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