COVID-19 food security information and resources for Colorado’s immigrant families

Written by: Erica Manoatl
Date Posted: April 17, 2020

Colorado’s immigrant families are among the groups experiencing the most severe economic disruptions related to COVID-19, due to both industry-specific unemployment and limited access to public programs. Nearly 1 in 4 Colorado children (about 285,000 children) live in immigrant families, where either the child or a parent was born in another country. The recent Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by Congress have set aside trillions of dollars to deliver relief to American families—how much of this relief will be felt by Colorado’s large and vital immigrant community?

Last week we discussed changes to Colorado’s unemployment benefits system, including access for immigrant families and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. This week we’re covering nutrition assistance and food security for immigrant families during the economic disruption, including immediate and long-term supports.

Immigrant eligibility for nutrition assistance programs in Colorado

  • Any family that needs food assistance immediately should visit a local food bank or pantry; to find a list of local sites please visit Hunger Free Colorado’s COVID-19 Food Resources Many schools and districts are also providing daily school meals for pick-up for children under 18; a map with local sites is available at the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Emergency Feeding page. Families can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to receive information about school meal distribution sites for children. Additionally, the Food Resource Hotline (855-855-4626) provides confidential, bilingual guidance around finding nutrition supports in one’s community and takes calls on weekdays from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
  • Immigrants who are U.S. citizens as well as those who are lawfully present and meet specific qualifications are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Colorado. Families can apply for SNAP online via Colorado PEAK. Staff at the Food Resource Hotline (855-855-4626) can help families confidentially determine their eligibility for SNAP and apply. Eligible household members may still be able to receive SNAP benefits even if some members of their household are not eligible. Some temporary procedural changes have been made to the SNAP application and enrollment processes in an effort to make accessing benefits easier—you can read about those changes at Hunger Free Colorado’s COVID-19 Food Resources page and the Colorado Department of Human Services’ (CDHS) Food Assistance and COVID-19 Receiving federally funded SNAP benefits can be used in a public charge determination, but importantly, most immigrants who are eligible for SNAP are not also subject to a public charge determination.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are available to any family regardless of immigration status, but these programs have narrower eligibility requirements in other areas as they are designed for specific populations. To understand which families are eligible for either program, please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) WIC Eligibility page and the Food Distribution Household Programs page from CDHS. WIC and TEFAP participation are not included in public charge determinations.

Access the following resources for further information:

Erica Manoatl

About Erica Manoatl

Erica Manoatl is the Research Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports the organization’s research priorities, data analysis, and writing in all issue areas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from George Washington University and a Master of Public Health in Population and Family Health from Columbia University.