We know readers have various questions regarding the CalFresh food stamps EBT program. We decided to set up this CalFresh FAQs page to address the most common questions we get.
CalFresh is a nutrition program that can help low-income households buy healthy foods.
In California, CalFresh used to be known as the Food Stamp Program. Nationally, the program is called SNAP.
CalFresh is funded by the federal government.
If you are approved, your CalFresh benefits are issued on an EBT card that works like a debit card and can be used at most grocery stores and many farmers’ markets to purchase food.
More questions will be added as and when we receive reader feedback.
See the most frequently asked questions about CalFresh and CalFresh EBT below.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the CalFresh food stamps EBT program.
There are three ways to apply for EBT/Food stamps in California:
The easiest way to apply for CalFresh food stamps is online. Click here to be taken to the application website.
If you have an account, you can log in or create your getcalfresh.org account.
You can also apply in person at your local Department of Social Services office (CDSS). For the closest CDSS office near you, click here.
You can download an application, complete it, and mail it to your county CDSS office or submit it in person.
After you apply, CDSS will schedule your telephone interview.
You may be asked to provide:
Here’s the CalFresh SNAP Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2021.
Note that both the Gross Income Limit and the Net Income Limit as based on a percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
|Gross Income Limit 200% FPL||Net Income Limit 100% FPL|
For each additional
Once you are approved for CalFresh food stamps, you probably want to know how much in benefits your household will get on a monthly basis.
See the chart below for details.
|SNAP Benefits by Household Size|
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Benefit, |
Fiscal Year 2021
|Estimated Average Monthly Benefit, Fiscal Year 2021|
|Each additional person||$153|
If you would like to check the status of your CalFresh application and/or case, contact your county social services agency for further assistance.
You can also login into your CalFresh account online. Click here for help creating an account or login into CalFresh online.
According to guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the food stamps/SNAP program, here is the list of items you are allowed to buy with your EBT Card.
What you CAN buy with EBT Card:
Foods for the household to eat, such as:
What you CANNOT buy with EBT Card:
Yes. CalFresh benefits cannot be used to purchase:
See further details on what you can and cannot buy with CalFresh.
In all California counties, except Los Angeles, food Stamps Benefits are deposited on EBT Cards over the first 10 days of every month.
When your food stamps benefit is deposited on your EBT Card depends on the last digit of your case number.
Here is the schedule of payment based on the last digit of your case number:
|If your Case Number ends in||Benefits are deposited on the|
|1||1st of the month|
|2||2nd of the month|
|3||3rd of the month|
|4||4th of the month|
|5||5th of the month|
|6||6th of the month|
|7||7th of the month|
|8||8th of the month|
|9||9th of the month|
|0||10th of the month|
See our post on EBT Schedule for California for cash benefits calendar.
If you moved to a city in the same county you lived in before, update your address with the CalFresh office right away.
This will ensure you will still get important notices about your CalFresh.
However, if you moved to a different county, contact the CalFresh office in your new county right away and request an Inter-County Transfer of benefits.
The county can transfer your case and you should not have to reapply.
For information on how to reach your county CalFresh office, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/County-Offices.
If you would like to contact CalFresh or need help on how to apply for CalFresh benefits in your county, please call the number below:
CalFresh Phone Number – 1-877-847-3663.
How do I log in to my CalFresh Account?
Based on your county of residence, you may have to log in to one of the following online portals to access your CalFresh account:
YourBenefitsNow portal (used by residents of Los Angeles County)
MyBenefits CalWIN portal (Used by 18 counties, including San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara, Sacramento, and Alameda Counties).
C4Yourself portal (used by residents of 37 counties, including San Bernardino and Riverside Counties).
There are three ways to check your CalFresh EBT Card balance.
Option 1 – Via Phone
Call 1-877-328-9677 to check the balance on your California EBT Card
Option 2 – Online
Option 3 – Using the Last Transaction Receipt.
If your California EBT card is lost or stolen, the first thing you want to do is contact California EBT card customer service to report the issue.
Upon contacting customer service, they will deactivate your EBT card. This means that you will no longer have access to your benefits until your replacement card arrives.
To contact California EBT Card Customer Service use the contact information below.
Currently, you can use CalFresh EBT at restaurants in 10 counties in California.
However, to be eligible, you have to be over 60 years of age or older, disabled, or homeless to use their CalFresh benefits at restaurants.
Here is the list of participating counties. Click on the county below for more information of participating restaurants in each county.
Currently, the restaurant meals program is active in the following counties:
You may be eligible to receive CalFresh benefits, whether or not you work, if you have a low income. See the income limit above for gross and net income requirements.
CalFresh can be used to buy any food or food product that is produced for human consumption. The exception to this is hot foods or lunch counter items prepared or heated in the store.
In addition, CalFresh benefits cannot be used to buy non-food items like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, vitamins or medicines, and pet food.
However, you can use your California SNAP EBT Card to purchase seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food.
As of June 1st, 2019, SSI/SSP recipients may be eligible to receive CalFresh in addition to receiving a monthly Social Security Disability benefit.
People who live together and purchase food and prepare meals together are grouped as a “household”. Husbands and wives and their children under age 22 must be one household.
You may be eligible if you are a “qualified” noncitizen. This includes Permanent Legal Residents (holders of a green card), refugees, asylees (an individual who has been granted asylum), and individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal.
In addition, Cuban/Haitian entrants, individuals paroled into the U.S. for a least one year by immigration authorities, conditional entrants (temporary green card).
Furthermore, certain victims of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking (T visa), and applicants for U visa/interim relief are also eligible for CalFresh.
Students, ages 18 through 49 enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time, students may be able to get CalFresh if they are:
Here are the most frequently asked questions about California P-EBT program.
Yes. The state of California was approved to extend the P-EBT program.
This means that eligible children will get P-EBT food benefits for the entire 2020-21 school year.
To provide P-EBT benefits for the 2020-21 school year, states must develop and submit a new P-EBT plan for federal approval.
The CDSS and CDE are awaiting federal guidance and will be working collaboratively to develop and submit an approvable plan as soon as possible.
We will keep an eye on this and will provide our readers with any new information once it is shared.
We hope this post on CalFresh FAQs was helpful to you.
If you have additional questions or need help applying for CalFresh or CalFresh EBT, leave those in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles about CalFresh and CalFresh EBT, including CalFresh Income Limit, CalFresh EBT Card Replacement, and How to Purchase Groceries Online with California EBT.