Need help buying food? CalFresh can help when times are tough!

The region’s high cost of living makes it difficult for individuals and families 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 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.

calfresh card

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 bank card. 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 non-food 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. 

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 do not have children. Seniors are also eligible. See if you qualify!

*Effective Oct. 1, 2019

Who Is Not 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: Those who receive Social Security, State Disability, Survivor Benefits, Unemployment or even a pension may still be eligible.

How do I apply for CalFresh?

Step 1: Make sure the following is true.

  1. At least one member of your household is a US citizen, Legal Permanent Resident, Refugee, Asylee or T or U visa holder.
  2. You live in San Diego County (for residents of other counties please check with your local county office or food bank for assistance)
  3. Your gross monthly income is below 200% FPL (check chart) *Households with a senior of disabled member may still qualify if their income is over 200% FPL.*
    *Remember earned, unearned and non-taxable income such as VA disability, military housing (BAH), child support, etc. do count as income.

Step 2: Call CalFresh Outreach team at  (084) 168-993-7763