Frequently asked questions
What is CalFresh?
CalFresh is a program funded by the USDA to help improve health and nutrition of families with low incomes. CalFresh can stretch food dollars, allowing families and individuals to buy more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy foods.
Currently, 4.3 million Californians are enrolled in CalFresh. Unfortunately, there are over 3.2 million Californians that are income-eligible in our state and not utilizing the program according to the California Food Policy Advocates. Many people are currently experiencing food insecurity and hunger instead of participating in CalFresh. Furthermore, an additional $6.3 billion of economic activity each year would be generated in California if there were full participation in the program.
Who Can Receive Calfresh?
CalFresh is for all types of people that fit within the eligibility guidelines. CalFresh is not only for mothers or families with children. Fathers, single adults, people with disabilities and seniors are also eligible for CalFresh. If a parent is ineligible, he or she can apply on behalf of his or her children.
CalFresh is an entitlement program. This means that all who apply and qualify as eligible will receive benefits and will not “take someone else’s place.” The USDA sets aside funds for the program, and because there is currently under-utilization of the program, millions of dollars in benefits are being left unused.
Call 211 to be pre-screened for likely eligibility
For information on CalFresh and CalWORKs eligibility expansion for individuals with a drug felony conviction, click here.
How Does Calfresh Work?
CalFresh benefits are deposited monthly on an EBT card that works like a debit card with a PIN. You can check the balance online or over the phone. Benefits can be used almost anywhere food is sold, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, stores like Target and Costco, some ethnic markets, and some farmer’s markets.
Click Here to find out where you can use your benefits.
How Much Can I Receive In Calfresh Benefits Each Month?
The amount you receive depends on your income, expenses, and family size. Most households with CalFresh get about $200 each month.
Benefits to CalFresh
- You can use your benefits to purchase a variety of healthy food from participating grocery stores and some farmers’ markets
- Using CalFresh benefits means more money left in your pockets for other bills and expenses
- A USDA study found that every $1 of CalFresh benefits generates $1.84 in economic activity
Benefit amount impact
- For the first half of 2018, 211 San Diego’s Enrollment Center has helped over 3000 households get connected to CalFresh benefits, contributing an estimate of $2,536,130 into San Diego’s economy.
What Is 211’s Involvement With Calfresh?
211 San Diego/Imperial is leading the way in phone-based outreach and application assistance. This means that we are helping to connect people who might be eligible for the program in the easiest way possible. We can complete the entire CalFresh application over the phone and submit it to the County electronically on your behalf. We then help guide you in the next steps to send your necessary documentation directly to the County without having to physically go into the office. Our over-the-phone program is especially beneficial for those who are disabled, elderly, homebound or lack transportation or childcare and cannot go to the County office to apply during office hours. Call 211 today!
Because benefits are administered by the County, only a County eligibility worker can make the final decision if the client qualifies for benefits, and will notify the client of your case status within 30 days.
Visit the California Department of Social Service’s CalFresh website click here.
Schedule an appointment to apply over the phone with 211 click here.
Apply online click here.
The California Department of Social Services has available for download the following no-cost CalFresh Outreach materials: