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Medical, Cash and Food Benefit Enrollment Event Coming to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

October 26, 2011

Pierce County residents can access free or reduced cost healthcare and food benefits

TACOMA, Wash., October 25, 2011  The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is hosting the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Mobile Community Services Office (CSO) on October 29 from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. Pierce County residents will have the opportunity to meet with DSHS employees to access Basic Food assistance and medical insurance assistance for children and pregnant women. With the current economic crisis, many more people may qualify for assistance than in the past and many are likely unaware that they could qualify.

“Providing access to care, food and basic needs is one of the Health Department’s top priorities,” said Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Finances should not stand in the way of Pierce County residents achieving a healthy life. We are pleased to be partnering with DSHS to bring this valuable resource to Tacoma, and hope to see many take advantage of the services available.”

Hunger is a serious issue facing many people in Pierce County. While enrollment in Basic Food (food stamps) has increased since 2008, the USDA estimates that over 14% of households eligible for Basic Food do not participate[i].  Last school year, more than 57,000 school children in Pierce County qualified for free or reduced school lunches[ii]. The adults who care for these children are also likely to be struggling with food insecurity.  At the Mobile CSO, eligible participants will be able to enroll for Basic Food and receive the benefit the same day.

More than 17% of Pierce County residents do not have health insurance[iii]. The unemployment rate in Pierce County is 9.3%[iv], and the Health Department fears that the rate of uninsured residents has or will continue to rise in the current economic conditions. Many people are unaware that they may qualify for healthcare assistance available from DSHS.  To learn more about eligibility, visit   

DSHS has two Mobile CSO units that travel the state to bring access to DSHS resources. Each unit is staffed by experienced financial workers who are able to complete cash, food, and medical interviews, issue EBT cards, process changes to active cases and receive documents. The Mobile CSO will help sort through the process of qualifying and applying for assistance.  The Saturday event is especially useful for people who cannot get to a CSO office during the week.

“The Mobile CSO is an invaluable resource assisting dedicated staff in reaching out to our local communities,” said David Stillman, Assistant Secretary for the DSHS Economic Services Administration. “The mobile unit helps create a stronger human services network and connects the state’s most vulnerable residents to the services, benefits and information they need.”

For residents who cannot attend, the Access to Care team at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is always available to help facilitate the application process for medical and food assistance. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 253-798-6451 or visit   To apply for benefits directly through DSHS, visit

 What: Mobile Community Service Office Event. Apply for cash assistance, medical assistance or Basic Food assistance from DSHS employees.

Where: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, 3629 South D. Street, Tacoma, WA 98418. The truck will be located in the Pacific Avenue parking lot.

When: October 29, 2011, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Who: Any Pierce County resident seeking assistance with cash assistance, medical insurance and/or Basic Food. More people qualify than who access the resources. 


About the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County.  As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at


[i] Calculating the SNAP Program Access Index: A Step-by-Step Guide 2010.

[ii] End Childhood Hunger, 2011 Summer Meals Fact Sheet.

[iii] 2010 Washington State Population Survey.

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