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How to apply for food stamps, CalFresh in California

The coronavirus is making an unprecedented impact on lives across California. Food stamps, or CalFresh, can help relieve food insecurity.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Food stamps are known as CalFresh in California, but they serve the same function - giving people relief from food insecurity when they’re short on basic needs.

Counties and the state are expecting a wave of new claim for food stamps as the coronavirus continues to take an economic toll on people. 


The slope of new CalFresh claims isn’t as dramatic, but it is noticeable, according to March 24 data from the California’s Department of Social Services.  

MARCH 2019:

  • First week: 42,891 applications
  • Second week: 38,400 applications
  • Third week: 34,882 applications

MARCH 2020: 

  • First week: 42,296 applications
  • Second week: 41,826 applications
  • Third week: 55,624 applications

Here’s how to apply:

Online: GetCalFresh.org

By phone: 1-877-847-3663 (FOOD)

What you’ll need to do:

  • Complete an application – can be done by phone or online
  • Complete an interview – can be done by phone
  • Provide proof of income and expenses, if needed.
  • Counties will determine eligibility in 30 days or less (or 3 days if no or very low income when apply).

How much do you get?

Anyone who qualifies for CalFresh can get payments between $16 to $194 per month. It’s a wide range, but it depends on the income and expenses you have.

The average benefit per person is $122.67 and $229.76 per household. The benefits come in monthly and can be used at many markets and grocery stores.

When you can start:

It will take some time before you can actually start using your benefits. 

Your first payment could take as long as 30 days. However, if you have less than $150 in monthly income and less than $100 on hand right now, you could qualify for a payment in about three days. 

The same would also be true if your household’s combined monthly income and money on hand is less than your household’s combined monthly rent and utilities. 

Who generally qualifies

Income will play a big factor in eligibility. Here's the gross income limits per household size.

Household Size            Gross Income

1                                         $2,024

2                                           2,744

3                                           3,464

4                                           4,184

5                                           4,904

6                                           5,694

7                                           6,344

8                                           7,064

Each Additional Member       +720

CalFresh is also available to older adults and people with disabilities who are getting Supplemental Security Income. For more information how to gauge your eligibility, click HERE.


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