Six Frequently Asked Questions About CalFresh

Six Frequently Asked Questions About CalFresh

CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program in California, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program California (SNAP) nationally and formerly known as Food Stamps, that helps low-income individuals and families purchase healthy food. Participants receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card, to purchase food at authorized retailers. The program is administered by the California Department of Social Services.

Those seeking food assistance are urged to participate in the CalFresh program. CalFresh helps food-insecure individuals maximize their food budget to purchase nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. This is a federal program managed by the US Department of Agriculture and can be applied for through the LA County Department of Social Services. 

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Team provides guidance with the application process. CalFresh serves to help low-income individuals access healthy food options monthly while also promoting economic growth at the state and local levels, as federal funds are utilized by participating businesses like grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Related Story: The Food Bank Helps Families with CalFresh and Food Assistance

In honor of CalFresh Awareness Month this May, the Food Bank wants to break down some frequently asked questions about the CalFresh Program and how it could help you and your family.

1. What is the difference between EBT and CalFresh?

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is a system that allows people to receive government benefits through a card that can be used, like a debit card, with the opportunity to purchase items that are not food, such as clothing, household items and transportation. 

Once eligible for the CalFresh program, an EBT card is issued to the participant(s) with a set monthly stipend to be spent strictly on food products, except hot meals. The EBT card can be used based on the program they qualify for such as SNAP, CalWORKS, GR and any other government-assistance program with the Department of Public Social Services.

Related Story: What is and isn’t Covered with CalFresh?

2. What is the income limit?

The income limit for CalFresh depends on several factors, including household size, income, and expenses. The gross monthly income, the total income before taxes and deductions, determines eligibility.

As of May 2023, the gross monthly income limit for CalFresh is as follows:

  • 1-person household: $2,266
  • 2-person household: $3,052
  • 3-person household: $3,840
  • 4-person household: $4,626
  • 5-person household: $5,412
  • 6-person household: $6,200
  • 7-person household: $6,986
  • 8-person household: $7,772

For households with more than eight people, an additional $788 per person is added to the income limit.

It’s important to note that these income limits are subject to change based on federal and state regulations. Certain deductions and exemptions can be applied to income to help households qualify for CalFresh.

3. What’s the application process like?

The Food Bank operates a CalFresh Outreach Program in partnership with the LA County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and our charitable agency partners. The Food Bank sends trained outreach workers to partner agencies during food distribution times through this program. While visiting partner sites, outreach workers are available to answer questions about the CalFresh program and process applications for clients who wish to apply utilizing the online benefits portal. After the application is completed, Food Bank Outreach workers electrically submit the application to the Department of Public social services for processing.

Are you eligible for CalFresh? The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank can pre-screen, help with the application and submit it to the County. Throughout the week, CalFresh outreach workers are stationed at different partner organizations in the community.

To find out when a CalFresh Outreach Worker may be in your community, please get in touch with the Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Team at (323) 234-3030 ext. 187 for more information.

You can also apply online through the LA Department of Social Services. 

Become more informed about the CalFresh Program

4. Does CalFresh affect your credit score?

Receiving CalFresh benefits will not affect your credit score, reports NBC Los Angeles.

5. How long does CalFresh last?

According to the USDA, year-over-year March 2023, consumer price indexes for eggs have increased by 36%, dairy products up by 10.7%, poultry up 7.5%, and fats. Additionally, fats and oils increased by 15.9%. Families who used to spend $200 a week at the grocery store now have to spend nearly $300, seeing their CalFresh benefits depleted by mid-month and their budgets.

Read more about How Long CalFresh Benefits Last

6. What can I do when my CalFresh benefits deplete?

The Food Bank and our hundreds of partner agencies reach hundreds of thousands of individuals across LA County, providing food assistance to those who are part of the CalFresh program and those that aren’t eligible. At these distributions, individuals may receive fresh fruits and vegetables, canned and bagged goods, dairy products, meats, and household essentials that CalFresh may not cover.

Receiving additional assistance from the Food Bank at the end of the month when CalFresh benefits deplete can be a life-changer for families in need. If you or someone you know needs food assistance, please visit the Food Bank’s Food Pantry Locator for the nearest distribution near you.

As the expiration of these benefits became effective at the end of March 2023, we are working closely with our partners, advocates, and policymakers to extend the program’s benefits and prevent a hunger crisis in LA County. We believe no one should go hungry and are committed to fighting for policies and programs that support needy families. To help ensure everyone has access to the nutritious food they need, please contribute to the Food Bank’s mission today.

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When you give $23 monthly, you provide a year’s worth of food to a family in need. Together, #WeFeedLA.

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