California Food Stamp Program


California's food stamp program falls under the federal program known as SNAP. However, California's program goes by CalFresh. This food assistance allows low income families to provide healthy food. The program is designed so that families on a budget can get the kind of nutrition necessary to sustain good health. The benefits are transmitted monthly through an electronic benefits card that individuals can use to buy food at specified locations, such as grocery stores, food markets and other food product stores. CalFresh continuously provides a source of sustenance for those in need. Although recently renamed to CalFresh, it has been part of a program since 1977 to help end hunger in California. As a program under the Department of Social Services, CalFresh offers individuals the ability to apply online or in person, using forms in various languages.

Applying for Food Stamps

You can apply online with CalFresh for food stamps at the Department of Social Services website located at E-Benefits California Website. You simply select your county of residence and fill in the necessary information, such as your name, social security number, why you are requesting benefits and some information about your income and assets. You may also download and print an application in your language from the Social Services website. When applying in person, you need to file with the appropriate local office, along with proof of identification and income. You will also have to accept an eligibility interview that further assesses your income. You can find a list of county departments here. This list includes addresses as well as phone numbers for each office.

Receiving Food Stamps

You will receive a card in the mail that allows you to receive electronically transmitted funds. These funds allow you to buy food products. The CalFresh benefits are only for foods for human consumption or purchasing seeds and plants to grow food for household use. CalFresh Benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items like pet food, paper products, household supplies, grooming items or cosmetics. You also cannot buy alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, or any food that can be eaten in the store, unless it is a restaurant as part of the restaurant meals program.

Finding Food Service Locations

You can visit any SNAP retailer to use your benefits. You can use the Snap Retailer Locator to find a location in your county. In general, public super markets, grocery stores, gas stations and other food stores allow you to use food benefit cards. You may also contact your local county office for a list of verifiable locations that allow you to use your food stamp card.

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