Need help buying food? CalFresh can help when times are tough!
The down economy has affected many individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. Income eligible individuals and families can get help buying healthy food through California’s CalFresh Program, formerly known as Food Stamps. CalFresh can help stretch food budgets and ensure that families are able to access healthier, culturally appropriate foods. Households that qualify for the program receive, on average, $200 per month for food benefits in California.
Calfresh is the new name for Food Stamps
CalFresh is the new name for Food Stamps in California. The name has changed to reflect the program’s role supporting good health and nutrition. The change is also intended to encourage more eligible individuals and families to see CalFresh as a resource for putting healthy meals on the table. Click here for CalFresh -Just the Basics video.
How do I purchase food with CalFresh?
CalFresh benefits are not provided through cash or coupons. Instead, people who qualify for CalFresh are given an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card which looks and works like a bank ATM card.
When you go through the checkout line at a supermarket, you pass or “swipe” the EBT card through the payment machine at the checkout stand. Then you enter a four digit PIN code. The cost of the food is then subtracted from your CalFresh account automatically – just like a bankcard. CalFresh EBT cards are accepted at most grocery stores and supermarkets – including wholesalers such as Costco.
What can I buy with my CalFresh benefits?
CalFresh benefits will help to stretch your food dollars. You can purchase food items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, fish, chicken, and cereals. You cannot use your EBT card to buy nonfood items such as toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toilet paper) or tobacco. Effective 2013, homeless, seniors over 60 and disabled CalFresh recipients are now able to use their CalFresh benefits at participating restaurants. Click here for more info!
Who qualifies for CalFresh?
You must meet income guidelines to receive CalFresh benefits. You can qualify for CalFresh if you are unemployed, working part time, or working full time. You can qualify for CalFresh if you live alone, live with others, have children, or don’t have children. Seniors are also eligible. It pays to see if you qualify!
|Monthly Income Limits*|
|People in Household||Gross Monthly Income||Net Monthly Income|
|Each additional member||+$694||+$347|
*Effective Oct. 1, 2016*
Please note, if a member in your household is disabled or over 60 years old, the table may not apply to you. All 1 or 2 person senior or disabled households not on SSI, will be eligible for at least the minimum allotment ($16) of CalFresh benefits if they pass the 200% federal poverty level gross income test. Please call us at 1-866-350-3663 to get pre-screened.
Who Is Not Eligible?
Individuals who receive SSI/SSP assistance (Supplemental Security Income/Payment) are not eligible because food benefits are already allocated in the grant. However, other members in the household not receiving SSI might still be eligible.
Undocumented residents are not eligible for CalFresh. However, other members in the household with legal residency (e.g. United States Citizen or permanent legal resident) are still eligible. For example, an undocumented mother may apply for her children with legal residency.
Note: Supplemental Security Income/Payment (SSI) is not the same as Social Security Administration. Those who receive Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, State Disability, Survivor Benefits, Unemployment or even a pension are still eligible. To learn more, click here!
Note: Applying for CalFresh will not hurt your chances of becoming a US citizen or permanent resident. However, CalFresh applicants must have a Social Security number to be eligible. This letter from the US Citizenship & Immigration Services explains that applying for CalFresh will not affect immigration status.
How do I apply for CalFresh?
You can use the CalFresh Pre-Screening Tool to determine if you may be eligible to receive CalFresh benefits. This screening tool does not guarantee eligibility but will help determine the likelihood of eligibility. If the tool indicates you may not qualify, you can still apply to ensure an accurate determination of your eligibility. To access the pre-screening tool in Spanish, click here.
If you are eligible, your next step is to apply and submit the application for processing! Click below to download the application:
Once you have completed the application, fax the application including all your required supporting documents to 858-863-1457. Once received, the Food Bank CalFresh Outreach Team will submit your application to the county on your behalf. As advocates for our clients, we will stay in touch with you and act as your liaison with the county if any issues arise during the application process.
You can also mail or hand deliver your application to us at:
San Diego Food Bank CalFresh Outreach Program
9850 Distribution Ave.
San Diego, CA 92121
Want to apply online?
You can now complete the CalFresh Application online by visiting https://www.benefitscalwin.org
Visit a CalFresh Outreach Hub Site and Receive Application Assistance!
The Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Program staff has organized various “hub-sites” throughout San Diego County to make it easier and more comfortable for people to apply for CalFresh.
Community Partners have agreed to host the CalFresh Outreach Team and become a “hub-site” for the community and its residents. Each month local San Diego residents can visit a hub-site to receive prescreening and one-on-one application assistance.
Below are the locations, dates, and times where the Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Team will be each month. Please visit a hub-site for application assistance. Se habla Espanol.
Every Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
North County Career Center Coastal – 1949 Avenida del Oro, Oceanside, CA 92056
Every Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon
South Bay Career Center – 111 Bay Blvd., Chula Vista, CA 91911
Every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon
South Metro Career Resource Center – 4389 Imperial Ave., San Diego, CA 92113