About CalFresh Healthy Living

family eating together
nutrition education

The federal Food Stamps Program (FSP) began in 1939. Over time, the FSP became the Food Stamp Act of 1964, with several amendments in the following years, including a reform called the Food and Agricultural Act of 1977 which added provisions to require nutrition education materials. In 1996, the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act, also known as the 1996 Farm Bill, made major changes to the program, including requiring all states to implement Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). The 2002 Farm Bill adjusted the standard deduction for food stamps eligibility to vary by household size and account for inflation, among other major changes. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the financial commitment to federal food assistance programs and changed the name of the FSP to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in an effort to reduce stigma around receiving federal food assistance. The 2008 Farm Bill also renamed the nutrition education component, which became known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed. In 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) reauthorized nutrition education programs in schools and changed the SNAP-Ed financial structure, mandating that 100 percent of federal funding would go to states with no contribution or match. However, the HHFKA did not dictate the agency that would receive federal funding. In 2012, this changed in California, dictating that the funds would be sent directly to local health departments in each county. The HHFKA also reshaped SNAP-Ed by including an emphasis on programming centered on obesity prevention in addition to nutrition education and the promotion of physical activity. In California, SNAP is known as CalFresh, and SNAP-Ed is known as CalFresh Healthy Living.

CalFresh Healthy Living is a federally funded program that supports healthy, active, and nourished lifestyles through evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions for people eligible for SNAP. Through education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) changes, CalFresh Healthy Living helps create healthier communities, empowers individuals to consume healthy food and beverages, and encourages communities to be more physically active in settings where they live, learn, play, and shop. The Chronic Disease and Health Equity (CDHE) Unit has been the provider of CalFresh Healthy Living services in San Diego County since 2013.

CalFresh Healthy Living aims to prevent and reduce the leading risk factors for chronic diseases among the SNAP-eligible population, such as poor nutrition and physical inactivity. These are two of the three risk factors described in the 3-4-50 concept, based on local and national statistics. The 3-4-50 concept states that physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use are the three risk factors that contribute to the four major chronic diseases—cancer, heart disease & stroke, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease—that lead to more than 50% of deaths in the region. 

In 2003, CDHE launched the Reducing and Eliminating Health Disparities with Information (REHDI) Initiative, which involved working with community coalitions to provide information and implement strategies focused on improving chronic disease-related risk factors among the county’s highest-risk populations. This work paved the way for more targeted approaches to advancing health equity, including partnering with UCSD’s Department of Child Development and Community Health to improve access to healthy food for CalFresh recipients. The goal of the REHDI Initiative, along with the 3-4-50 concept, laid the foundation for the development of Live Well San Diego. Developed by CDHE, Live Well San Diego is a vision for a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely, and Thriving. The Building Better Health component, adopted by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2010, aims to improve the health of San Diego County residents and support healthy choices through access to quality care, physical activity, healthy eating, and preventing tobacco and other drug use. In 2012, the Living Safely component of the Live Well San Diego vision was adopted, which focuses on achieving three key outcomes to keep San Diego County safe: residents are protected from crime or abuse; neighborhoods are safe to work, live and play; and communities are resilient to disasters and emergencies. The final component of the Live Well San Diego vision, Thriving, was adopted in 2014 and focuses on cultivating opportunities for all people and communities to grow, connect, and enjoy the highest quality of life.

Through CalFresh Healthy Living, the CDHE team collaborates with many locally contracted partners to help make San Diego County a healthier place to live, work, learn, play, and worship. 


Webpage last updated April 17, 2023