LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles County officials have declared May “CalFresh Awareness Month,” hoping to persuade more low-income families to use available benefits to keep nutritious food on their tables.

Many county residents in need of food assistance don’t realize they may qualify for CalFresh, the federally funded supplemental food benefit, according to the Department of Public Social Services.

“We’re talking about people having to choose between buying food and paying basic household bills because they do not have enough resources to do both,” DPSS Director Sheryl Spiller said. “It is our responsibility to educate people about the benefits of the program and the importance of eating healthy foods while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

Household hunger hurts children’s intellectual, physical and emotional development and puts them at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

County officials are using local farmers markets, food banks, local school districts and churches to educate families and try and overcome any barriers that keep them from using CalFresh benefits to feed their families.

The name itself is meant to emphasize health benefits and steer away from the stigma of benefits previously known as food stamps.

More information on applying for CalFresh can be found by calling (866) 613-3777 or at www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov.