AmeriCorps VISTA HFC Member Streamlines CalFresh SNAP Enrollment

July 30, 2018

Yeojin Jung, AmeriCorps VISTA at the CalFresh Department in the City of San Francisco 

I’m currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the City & County of San Francisco Human Services Agency’s CalFresh (federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) Department. With a background and strong interest in food security and community capacity building, I have been privileged to serve, learn, and work alongside the CalFresh Department in the City of San Francisco this past year.

During my service, I worked primarily with the CalFresh Outreach Unit to expand their resource capacity and implement program efficiencies that will help to mobilize the unit’s efforts in increasing community based CalFresh participation. Among the various projects and tasks assigned, my main duties include helping restructure the unit’s application data entry system, conducting student CalFresh enrollment research, and implementing design in resource development.

The most impactful project for me has been working on the resource creative design project as it allowed me to explore my interest in design while also working to increase the effectiveness of the outreach unit’s process. For this project, I worked closely with the Rehab Outreach Unit. The Rehab Outreach Unit provides CalFresh enrollment assistance to the rehabilitation treatment facilities’ authorized representatives and case managers who are responsible for applying for benefits on behalf of their clients overcoming drug and/or alcohol substance use. Currently, the unit is undergoing program changes to modernize their CalFresh paper application process to now accepting online applications through the MyBenefits CalWIN (MyBCW) website. MyBCW aims to allow users to learn and apply for medical, food, and cash assistance programs online.

The Rehab Outreach Unit is responsible for training authorized representatives and case managers to utilize the MyBCW to assist clients in applying for benefits. Integrating and training community partners on applying for benefits online can be a challenging process as there are barriers to successful application completion such as lack of understanding of application procedures and submission requirements.

MyBCW User Guide (Courtesy: CalFresh)

To overcome these barriers, I have designed and created a regulation handbook that outlines the policies and responsibilities of Rehab Treatment Facility authorized representatives and case managers, a MyBCW User Guide that contains a step by step instruction on completing an application, an instructional video tutorial that establishes an auditory and visual resource to support application completion, and other supplemental resources that will better inform authorized representatives and case managers about the program policies and the MyBCW application procedures. The goal is to enable case managers to access the developed resources and find support in understanding the new program changes and assistance in training their new staff members to help clients apply for benefits.

Throughout this project, I was able to learn abundantly. I learned to utilize design programs, research how to edit video content, and learn to implement typography and color in design. I worked with eligibility workers and staff members that were generous to guide me in my project process. And above all, I was supported by an encouraging supervisor who helped me to realize my potential and perseverance in challenging circumstances. The work I have done so far was truly the outcome of combined effort and support.

My work has enabled me to be resourceful and flexible during various assignments to help achieve a common goal in alleviating food insecurity. Being an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer has been an enriching experience that allowed me to serve with a focused mindset and make positive contributions to the CalFresh Department and the City and County of San Francisco. Although my AmeriCorps service year is coming to a close, I will carry the same motivation and commitment with me to dedicate my career to service beyond.