*For immediate food assistance, call 2-1-1*
On October 23, 2010, California Department of Social Services introduced CalFresh, an inspiring new brand, name, and design for the California food assistance program. CalFresh is California's name for the federal food assistance program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The new name and logo represent the diverse food available in California and reflect that the program supports nutrition, healthy living, and California agriculture. The goal of the program is to be a stepping stone to an improved quality of life for Californians by helping the entire state have access to healthy and nutritious foods.
Currently, 2.3 million Californians receive CalFresh benefits. Unfortunately, there are over 5.2 million Californians that are income-eligible, leaving almost 3 million people unserved in our state according to the California Food Policy Advocates. In Monterey County alone, 66% of those eligible do not participate, meaning less food on the table for their families and a loss of $67 million/year of additional income that could be spent supporting local families and the community.
What is CalFresh?
CalFresh is a program funded by the USDA to help improve health and nutrition of families with low incomes. CalFresh can stretch food dollars, allowing families and individuals to buy more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy foods.
Who Can Receive CalFresh?
CalFresh is for all types of individuals and families that fit within the eligibility guidelines. CalFresh is not only for mothers or families with children. Fathers, single adults, people with disabilities, and seniors are also eligible for CalFresh. If a parent is ineligible, he or she can apply on behalf of his or her children.
CalFresh is an entitlement program. This means that all who apply and qualify as eligible will receive benefits and will not "take someone else’s place.” The USDA sets aside funds for the program, and because there is currently under participation in the program, millions of dollars in benefits are being left unused.
When you apply, your income and many other factors are taken into account to determine whether or not you are eligible. By calling 2-1-1 Monterey County, you can be prescreened for major eligibility criteria, helping you to understand if you might be eligible to receive CalFresh and to feel more prepared before you begin the application process.
How Does CalFresh Work?
CalFresh benefits are deposited monthly on an EBT card that works like a debit card with a PIN. You can check the balance online or over the phone. Benefits can be used almost anywhere food is sold, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, stores like Target and Costco, some ethnic markets, and some farmer’s markets. CalFresh benefits can also be used to buy seeds and plants to grow food for household use.
How Much Can I Receive In CalFresh Benefits Each Month?
The amount you receive depends on your income, expenses, and family size. Most households with CalFresh get about $200 each month.
What If I Am Already Receiving Food Assistance? Can I Apply For CalFresh?
If you are already receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance on an EBT card, you are now automatically enrolled in CalFresh! Your benefits will continue without interruption and there is no need to also apply for CalFresh. The eligibility requirements remain the same, only the name has been changed to reflect the goal of the program and what it really is – a way for people to provide healthy food for their families.
How Do I Apply?
You can read about the application process on the State of California's website or you can call 2-1-1 for more information.
Our 2-1-1 Client Service Representatives prescreen callers with a few quick questions to see if they or anyone in the household meet the basic criteria to be eligible for CalFresh. If you might be eligible, they can help direct you to the next step in the process of applying.
2-1-1 Monterey County can also provide you with additional information about the CalFresh program, including the options in the County for applying and the locations where you can apply and/or receive assistance with completing the application.
What Is Prescreening?
Prescreening is a process during which callers answer a few questions regarding major criteria for CalFresh eligibility. This process is referred to as “prescreening” to reinforce that it is not a process to determine eligibility and it does not “screen out” potential applicants. While prescreening is an essential piece of California’s outreach efforts, it can also offer an opportunity to spread incorrect information or inappropriately discourage a person from applying for CalFresh.
Prescreening only determines whether the caller may be eligible for CalFresh.
Can I Prescreen Myself?
You can use the resource found here to check if you are likely to qualify.