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Aug 31 2015 | 

Author: Christen | 

Blog Category:

By Sue Sigler
CAFB Executive Director

As an organization that brings people together from around the state to fight hunger, the California Association of Food Banks knows how necessary it is to have the right supporters at the table. For many years now, Kim McCoy Wade has been a key anti-hunger advocate — first as CAFB’s executive director from 2004 to 2008 and, since 2011, as our close ally championing the Alliance to Transform CalFresh.

Kim has recently transitioned out of her role as an independent consultant directing operations for the Alliance to Transform CalFresh, or ATC, in order to step into a new role this month. She leaves ATC — a coalition that CAFB convenes — to become Chief of the CalFresh Branch at the California Department of Social Services.

It is with profound appreciation that the California Association of Food Banks team says good-bye to our current working relationship with Kim McCoy Wade. We’re thrilled, however, that we don’t have to say good-bye to Kim herself. We are excited to congratulate Kim on her new role, and we look forward to working with a familiar ally in a fresh way as part of our continued fight against hunger.

A leader in data-driven strategy 

We’re not surprised that Gov. Jerry Brown would appoint Kim to such an important position, given Kim’s distinguished career and demonstrated successes. Kim is a leader in developing data-driven strategies for improving participation in the CalFresh system, and she has skillfully helped ATC forge strong partnerships and reach critical milestones.

The Alliance to Transform CalFresh is composed of leading non-profit organizations that advance an ambitious but pragmatic goal: to significantly reduce hunger by moving California from a CalFresh participation rate that is among the last in the nation to being among the top 10 in the nation with a participation rate of at least 75%.

High stakes for California families

Every day, 6 million Californians face hunger or the fear of going hungry. Our state’s historically low participation rate in CalFresh — a critical program for those who live with food insecurity  — means that over 3.2 million people are not receiving the $3.5 billion in federal benefits for which they qualify. This low rate of participation also means that California is losing $6.3 billion in economic activity that CalFresh usage could generate for our state, particularly in our food and agriculture sector

When the Alliance to Transform CalFresh got underway in 2011, CalFresh participation was 49 percent. We are now seeing a participation rate of 63 percent, thanks in part to Kim’s vision and leadership and the dedication of the ATC non-profits that CAFB works so closely with — the California Family Resource Association, California Food Policy Advocates, Catholic Charities of California, Inc., Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, SF-Marin Food Bank, and Western Center on Law and Poverty.  ATC has helped to spur greater access to CalFresh for eligible households by working with counties and the state of California and advocating for improvements in three focused areas: adoption of standards for simpler program rules, development of protocols and training to ensure modern customer service, and forming connections to health benefits.

We’ve come a long way, and we have more ground to cover to achieve our goal of creating lasting change so that at least three out of every four Californians who quality for CalFresh are receiving the vital food access the program delivers. CAFB looks forward to supporting Kim in her role as the state’s Chief of the CalFresh Branch and to working with her in a new way in the shared journey toward making California a national model for reducing hunger. 

 

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