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Tri-Valley nonprofits provide aid to families affected by government shutdown

CalFresh benefits issued early; may be unavailable come March

As the federal government’s longest partial shutdown in history continues, local nonprofits Open Heart Kitchen and Tri-Valley Haven have increased their services to help feed the thousands of Alameda County families affected by employment furloughs and the potential loss of government aid.

In Alameda County, approximately 110,000 residents rely on CalFresh or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy groceries for their families, and with the recent announcement by the California Department of Social Services that CalFresh benefits were being issued early, those families could go 40 days or longer before receiving benefits again.

“We are happy to assist families with groceries,” said Ann King, Tri-Valley Haven’s executive director. “That way, they can use their limited cash for medication, rent and gas, or other necessary items.”

According to the California Department of Social Services, most participants received their CalFresh benefits for the month of February early, between Jan. 15 and 20.

If the shutdown holds, these recipients may not receive any benefits for the month of March, according to state officials. If the shutdown is resolved, there could still be a delay in issuing the next round of benefits for March.

To help these families, Tri-Valley Haven has opened its food pantry to federal workers or current CalFresh recipients and will offer assistance every week instead of the usual once per month. Open Heart Kitchen is also encouraging cash-strapped families to take advantage of its hot meal program and visit one of its Tri-Valley locations, which are open seven days a week.

“We don’t want families to turn to us long after they should have. We want families to know that help is available before they start skipping meals,” said Heather Greaux, executive director of Open Heart Kitchen.

CalFresh recipients in Alameda County may direct questions about their benefits to the customer service call center at 510-263-2420.

Open Heart Kitchen provides hot meal in Pleasanton at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1225 Hopyard Road, Fridays 4 to 6 p.m., and Lynnewood United Methodist Church, 4444 Black Ave., Sundays 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. A full list of Tri-Valley locations is available at www.openheartkitchen.org.

The Tri-Valley Haven food pantry is located at 418 Junction Ave. Livermore, Mondays through Wednesdays 1 to 5 p.m., Thursdays 1 to 7 p.m. and Fridays 1 to 5 p.m. More information is available at www.trivalleyhaven.org. Families are asked to bring proof of federal employment or CalFresh enrollment.

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