CFPA's Program Access Index (PAI) estimates CalFresh utilization among
low-income individuals in each of California's 58 counties.
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The Program Access Index: Measuring CalFresh Utilization by County PDF
CalFresh utilization, lost federal benefits, and lost economic activity (Lost Dollars, Empty Plates) by county.To view, click here or on the map above.
Tables showing the PAI for all California counties are available below.
The PAI estimates CalFresh utilization among individuals who meet select CalFresh eligibility criteria. More specifically, the PAI compares two populations: (1) CalFresh participants and (2) the number of individuals with incomes below 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold1 who do not participate in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)2 or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if those individuals have income below 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold 3. Because the PAI incorporates three select eligibility criteria, it is not a measure of CalFresh participation among fully eligible individuals.
The county-level PAI is one indicator of how well counties reach individuals with CalFresh. On its own, the PAI is not a comprehensive tool for evaluating counties' administration of CalFresh. Advocates and administrators should work to establish the use of additional indicators in assessing CalFresh administrative performance.
The county-level PAI is not designed to definitively establish trends over time. There are two primary challenges with using the PAI in this manner:
Each year, USDA releases SNAP/CalFresh participation rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These participation rates are complex estimates of SNAP/CalFresh utilization among eligible individuals. The rates take into account several factors affecting SNAP/CalFresh eligibility and utilization. In comparison, the PAI takes into account three CalFresh eligibility criteria: income, FDPIR participation, and SSI status.
State participation rates for any given year are typically released two years following. In comparison, the PAI can be calculated within one year.
USDA state participation rates may be the best available estimates of CalFresh utilization among eligible individuals. However, the rates are calculated as statewide measures and have limited relevance at the county level, particularly in a state as diverse as California. USDA does not calculate county-level participation rates. Because CalFresh policies and practices vary across California counties, county-level indicators of utilization and administrative performance are necessary. The PAI is one such indicator.
The tables below show the PAI for all 58 California counties and include county rankings. The number-one-ranked county has the highest CalFresh utilization relative to the total number individuals with incomes below 125 percent of poverty who do not participate in FDPIR or receive SSI.4 When applied to statewide data, the methodology used to generate Tables 1 and 2 yields a PAI of 0.580 for California.
Table 1 lists the counties alphabetically. Table 2 lists the counties by PAI rank.
Printable version of Tables 1 and 2 PDF
Table notes 1-2: The PAI is listed here with three significant digits. However, the PAI used to calculate the county ranking contained 15 significant digits. Viewed with four significant digits, Merced County’s PAI is 0.6999 and Madera County's PAI is 0.6997. Thus, their respective ranks are 13 and 14. Similarly, Lake County’s PAI is 0.6665 and Tehama County’s PAI is 0.6657.