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Advocates Sue LA County over Emergency Food-Assistance Delays

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021   

LOS ANGELES -- Anti-hunger advocates filed suit Monday to force Los Angeles County to speed up processing of applications for emergency food assistance.

Those applications by law must be processed within three days, but the county's own data showed between October 2020 and September 2021, more than a third of applications took longer, affecting 54,000 households.

Frank Tamborello, executive director of Hunger Action Los Angeles, said the CalFresh program is akin to emergency response.

"When someone is hungry, every hour, every minute matters," Tamborello argued. "It is unconscionable that in Los Angeles County, the most vulnerable families have to wait for weeks to get something as basic as food assistance."

The county did not respond to a request for comment by deadline, but has acknowledged a surge in demand combined with staffing issues is straining the system.

Lena Silver, associate director of litigation and policy advocacy for Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, said to qualify for emergency food assistance, you have to earn less than $150 per month and have less than $100 in cash, or be unable to pay your rent or mortgage.

"Emergency CalFresh is not a cushion," Silver asserted. "It gives people money for food who are at imminent risk of, or already experiencing, hunger."

Los Angeles County's 12-month average for applications processed past the deadline is at 36%, much higher than other large counties in Southern California. For example, San Bernardino County misses the mark more than 11% of the time. Orange County is at 7% and San Diego County is at 5%.


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