California Food Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants

California will soon extend food assistance benefits to some undocumented immigrants. This is very important news because undocumented immigrants have been excluded from food assistance benefits, including SNAP. In this post, we will explain how the California Food Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants will work, who is eligible and how to apply.

"California Food Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants"

California Food Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants

California will soon become the first state in the nation to extend food assistance benefits to some undocumented immigrants.

recent budget bill the state legislature passed includes a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow immigrants age 55 and older who are currently shut out of food stamps programs to receive food assistance benefits.

The expansion will occur in the California Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, a state-funded version of food stamps that helps income-qualified immigrants who are not eligible for the federally-funded CalFresh program.

Why this is Important

According to the nonprofit Nourish California, there are approximately 2.3 million undocumented immigrants living in California.

Of that number, 45 percent are experiencing food insecurity.

Participation in CalFresh and CFAP is associated with improved health outcomes, greater food security, and decreased levels of poverty.

Additionally, there are savings on healthcare cost as a result.

An expansion of CFAP to include low-income, undocumented immigrants over the age of 55 has the potential to significantly improve health and quality of life for those individuals.

The governor’s office did not indicate whether the program will be expanded in the future to undocumented people of all ages.

It is estimated that a full expansion of CFAP would have allowed between 690,000 to 840,000 additional Californians, including individuals over 55, to be eligible for food assistance.

However, similar to the slow expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants, this expansion of CFAP to those over 55 may be the first step to future expansion.

How it works

CalFresh (the name for California’s food stamps program) is California’s federally funded food assistance program.

The California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is a state-funded program that was created to provide food benefits to qualified non-citizens who are not eligible for CalFresh based on their immigration status.

However, undocumented immigrants have not qualified for either CalFresh or CFAP. 

Governor Newsom’s plan will allow undocumented immigrants over 55 years of age.

Who CFAP Helps

Currently, CFAP provides an average of $165 a month in food benefits to about 35,000 immigrants with legal status, primarily recent green card holders.

A February 2022 analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts’ Office shows the age-restricted food assistance expansion in California will reach about 75,000 people by 2025-26.

California Food Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants Summary

We hope this post on California Food Assistance for Undocumented residents was helpful.


If you have further questions about California SNAP or EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.

Also, be sure to check out our other articles about California SNAP and EBT, including:

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