Emergency Food Stamps California (Expedited CalFresh)

If you live in California and need food assistance right away, you may be eligible for “Expedited SNAP” or Emergency SNAP, which allows you to get benefits in as little as 3 days. In this post, we are going to detail what you need to know to apply for Emergency Food Stamps in California and get expedited Calfresh benefits.

First, we will explain the process for the Emergency SNAP application and eligibility requirements.

Next, we will detail what happens after you are approved for expedited benefits.

Lastly, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about SNAP benefits and the application process.

How to get Emergency Food Stamps in California (Expedited Calfresh)

What are Emergency Food Stamps?

Emergency Food Stamps (also known as Expedited SNAP) provides faster processing of a SNAP application for eligible households. This allows certain households to get their food stamp benefits faster than the regular 30-day timeframe.

What is Expedited Calfresh?

Expedited Calfresh (ES) provides eligible California households with food stamp benefits within 3 days, or even as early as the same day the SNAP application is received.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) must make expedited Calfresh benefits available by the third calendar day after your SNAP application is filed.

How does Expedited Calfresh work?

All SNAP applications are screened for expedited Calfresh using the expedited SNAP screening questions on California Food Stamps Application

California DSS staff screen all applications for Emergency Food Stamps in California at the local office.

Additionally, an automated system screens any application submitted through GetCalfresh.org.

Applicants who meet the test for expedited services are entitled to:

  • Postpone all verification until after receiving the first month’s benefit, except:
    • Identity
    • SNAP Interview
  • Get benefits the same day they apply, if possible, but no later than 3-business days.

However, you will still have to complete the eligibility process and supply the requested documentation at a later date.

Please note, there are exceptions to expedited Calfresh. In certain situations, California SNAP applicants may not get benefits in the stated time period.

Eligibility for Emergency Food Stamps California (2023)

Eligibility for Emergency Food Stamps California (2023)

If your household has little or no money and needs food assistance right away, you may qualify for Emergency Food Stamps in California.

To be eligible for expedited Calfresh benefits, your household must be eligible for regular food stamps and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Cash resources of $100 or less and a gross monthly income less than $150.
  • Combined cash resources and gross monthly income are less than your monthly expenses for rent/mortgage and utilities.
  • Your family includes a migrant or seasonal farmworker who has $100 or less in cash resources and very little income or income has been terminated.

If you meet the Calfresh qualifications and one of the requirements listed above, you may qualify for Emergency Food Stamps in California.

If you do qualify for expedited Calfresh, you will receive your food stamp benefits within 3 days.

A weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is considered one calendar day.

If you are not sure that you meet the California SNAP qualifications, we can help determine if your household is eligible.

"How much income you can make to qualify for Calfresh"

What are the Income Limits for California Food Stamps?

The most important eligibility requirement when applying for Calfresh benefits is household income.

The California SNAP eligibility guidelines consider both gross and net income for your household.

Below is the California Food Stamps income limits for 2023 by household size.

Please use the chart below to determine if your household income meets the Calfresh Income Limits.

California SNAP (CalFresh) Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2023
Effective October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023
Household Size Monthly Gross Income (200% of FPL) Monthly Net Income (100% of FPL)
1 $2,266 $1,133
2 $3,052 $1,526
3 $3,839 $1,920
4 $4,625 $2,313
5 $5,412 $2,706
6 $6,199 $3,100
7 $6,985 $3,493
8 $7,772 $3,886
Each Additional Household Member: +$787 +$394

Who is eligible for Calfresh?

In addition to the Calfresh Income Limit, your household may eligible for food stamp benefits in California if you meet any of the following:

  • Receive CalWORKS or General Relief
  • Have low-income or no income
  • Have limited property
  • Are a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident
  • Are an immigrant that meets certain criteria
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP)
For more help determining if you are eligible for California food stamps, read our complete guides on the California SNAP Eligibility or Income Limits.

How will I receive my SNAP Benefits?

If you are approved for Calfresh benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be electronically deposited onto an Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) card.

The Calfresh EBT Card, also known as the California Golden State Advantage Card works just like a regular debit card. 

Once you are approved for benefits, the Calfresh EBT Card will be mailed directly to your house.

Your Calfresh EBT Card will be sent via USPS First Class Mail. It will look similar to the image displayed below:

Calfresh EBT - Golden State Advantage Card

Calfresh EBT cards can be used at a variety of stores throughout California to purchase eligible food items.

For a complete list of the items you can purchase with your California EBT Card, check out our post here.

Furthermore, certain categories of California SNAP recipients can use their Calfresh benefits to purchase food at approved restaurants and fast food places.

This is under the California Restaurant Meals program.

See our detailed post about the California Restaurant Meals program and how to qualify.

Additionally, you can purchase groceries online using your Calfresh EBT card, and have them delivered through the following grocery stores:

As you can see from the list, you can purchase groceries online on Amazon. See our Amazon Grocery Online Guide here.

How Much Will I Get in Calfresh benefits?

To find out how much you will receive in Calfresh SNAP benefits, use the California Food Stamp Calculator.

To begin, we first have to look at the maximum benefit a California household could get.

The chart displays the Maximum SNAP Allotment Amount for your household size.

The 2023 Maximum SNAP Allotments benefits for Calfresh benefits is as follows:

Household Size Maximum Monthly Benefit
(Fiscal Year 2023)
Estimated Average Monthly Benefit
(Fiscal Year 2023)
1 $281 $197
2 $516 $377
3 $740 $586
4 $939 $718
5 $1,116 $842
6 $1,339 $981
7 $1,480 $1,062
8 $1,691 $1,282
Each additional person +$211

"3 options to apply for California SNAP benefits"

How do I apply for Calfresh Food Stamp Benefits?

There are three ways to apply for EBT/Food stamps in California:

Option 1 – Online

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.

Option 2 – At a CDSS Office

You can also apply in person at your local Department of Social Services office (CDSS). For the closest CDSS office near you, click here.

Option 3 – Download Application

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:

  • Proof of identity
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Social Security numbers for those requesting assistance
  • Proof of household income.

What If I Have No Food?

If you have no food, ask the CDSS for an immediate referral to a food pantry.
Also, you can also check online to find a California food bank or food pantry near you.

Emergency Food Stamps California Summary

We hope this post on Emergency Food Stamps in California and expedited Calfresh benefits was helpful.

If you have further questions about the Emergency Food Stamps or Calfresh EBT Card benefits, please let us know in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out our other articles about California SNAP and Calfresh EBT, including:

Get the Complete Guide of EBT Discounts for 2024! $1,000+ Worth of Savings!