What Californians Should Know About the CalFresh Food Program

The CalFresh food assistance program offers help for low income families and individuals in California.

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CalFresh, California’s largest food assistance program, helps provide low-income families and individuals who meet federal income eligibility rules with monthly food benefits.

The program, known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, seeks to improve the nutrition of low-income families and individuals. The goal of the program -- which is federally mandated, supervised by the state and operated by the county in California -- is to increase purchasing power so household food needs can be met.

Here is more information about how you can access the CalFresh program.

Where can I apply for CalFresh?

The CalFresh application can be accessed online by clicking here.

It can also be accessed by calling the Customer Service Center (CSC) at 866-613-3777, Monday through Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Someone can assist you in filling out the application.

The application can also be accessed by visiting any Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) district office or extension site. To locate one of the offices in Los Angeles County, click here.


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There are also organizations in Los Angeles County that can help people with the application. For a list of them, click here.

What documents are required to apply for CalFresh?

In order to apply you will need to show proof of ID, proof of any income, and proof of immigration status (for non-U.S. citizens).

Who is eligible for CalFresh?

Californians can have some income, own a home, or own a car and still be eligible. In Los Angeles County, it is estimated that more than 1.3 million people are receiving benefits.

How much a household receives depends on its size, income and monthly expenses. Most households are subject to gross and net income determination tests. Click here for details about eligibility and income requirements.

Half- or full-time students ages 18 to 49 at a two-year, four-year, or graduate school also may be eligible. Receiving benefits will not affect your credit score or student loans.

How long does it take to approve the CalFresh application?

In Los Angeles County, applications are processed within 30 days, according to the Department of Social Services. The processing time may be shorter in emergencies.

If you are eligible for CalFresh assistance, you will receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card.

You can use your EBT card to buy food at participating grocery stores, order groceries online for pickup or delivery at participating grocery stores, and participating farmers' markets.

Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated an application processing time of three days. That figure applies only to emergency situations.

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