Emergency food services, including cash aid (e.g. CalFresh), bulk food (e.g. food bank pantries), and programs providing prepared food (e.g. The Table and Salvation Army), are critical to improving food security in Napa County. The Emergency Food System Study was undertaken to: 1) provide agency partners, policy makers, and community residents a better understanding of the barriers to accessing emergency food services from the point of view of the program users and eligible non-users and 2) identify opportunities to improve program services, system coordination and service expansion. As part of this project, we plan to track levels of emergency food service program participation over time to help us understand the impact of local efforts, as well as how factors at the state and national level may be influencing food program participation.

Respondents of the Napa County Food Program Survey were asked to indicate which food assistance programs they or someone in their household are currently accessing. Commonly utilized programs as reported by respondents included receiving food from the food bank and food pantries (26%) and Free Fruits and Vegetables programs (22%). Common meal programs that participants attended included The Table (27%), Salvation Army (27%), and free or reduced-price meals from schools (22%). One quarter of respondents indicated they receive CalFresh (25%) and 17% indicated they receive WIC. 

The CalFresh Program, also known as SNAP or Food Stamps, provides low-income individuals with monthly cash aid for purchasing food to increase their food budget and meet their nutritional needs.

Source: CalFresh 2018 data, Napa County 

The CalFresh Program Reach Index (%) is an estimate for measuring true CalFresh participation rates for eligible individuals and households, which take into account ineligibility due to immigration status. According to 5-year estimates, 43% of eligible individuals are currently accessing CalFresh in Napa County. 

WIC provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling, and screening and referrals to other health, welfare, and social services for pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children less than 5 years of age who are low-income. In 2017, there were 4,352 women and children enrolled in Napa County's WIC program, down from over 5,700 participants in 2014. Twenty-seven percent of WIC participants were also enrolled in the CalFresh program. 

The National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children in public and nonprofit private schools each school day. Children from low-income households are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Participation in the Free and Reduced Meal program at Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) declined with each preceding school level during the 2015-2016. While about 54% of eligible elementary school students participated in the program, only 50% of middle school and 42% of eligible high school students participated. The percent of eligible students participating in the program is also displayed by individual school for the same time period. More recent data are not currently available, but the participation rate is expected to increase due to the restructuring of the food program at NVUSD during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Free & Reduced Price Meal Participation (%) is an estimate of the percentage of eligible students that are currently participating in the program. 

The chart below show the percent of students who were eligible to participate in the Free and Reduced Cost meal program by school district in Napa County during the 2017-2018 school year. In five schools in the county (Shearer, McPherson, Snow, Phillips, and Calistoga elementary schools), more than three quarters of students enrolled are eligible to receive a free or reduced cost meal.