Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Frances Edwards


CalFresh for Seniors


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, and called CalFresh in California, is the largest federally funded food assistance program in the United States. The program aims to reduce food insecurity and poverty by increasing access to nutritious food for low income eligible individuals (California Department of Social Services [CDSS], 2021a). The program is administered by county offices that are responsible for ensuring that the program is accessible, and that eligible individuals participate. Reports from the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) indicate that eligible seniors in California had the lowest participation rates when compared to the levels in other states (USDA FNS, 2021; Gorman & Rowan, 2018). Thus, California seniors are not taking advantage of programs geared to reduce food insecurity and poverty and are at a disadvantage, as a collective group, then seniors in other states.

This research explores how coastal, agricultural counties in California have enhanced senior citizen participation in CalFresh as compared to participation rates for seniors in Santa Cruz County. Studies addressing county administering agencies’ best practices in CalFresh outreach and administration are needed to analyze the ways that counties can increase their senior CalFresh access and participation in California.