The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has a program that provides access to healthy food for individuals and families known as CalFresh. The amount of benefits you can receive is dependent on your family size, countable income, and monthly expenses such as housing, utilities, and so forth. The program issues monthly benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores. CalFresh benefits are issued on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Benefits may not be used for items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or paper products. Stores that accept EBT will have the logo in the store or at cash register.
You don’t have to have place to cook to receive CalFresh. People receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) do not qualify for CalFresh. Persons with past drug felonies may qualify if they are complying with parole and probation. Persons getting CalWORKs or General Relief usually also get CalFresh.
You have the right to apply for CalFresh in your own language and to turn in a written application on the day you go to apply. The California Department of Social Services or CDSS must approve or deny your application within thirty days after the date you turn in the application. If someone tells you to come back without submitting the application, you may insist on filing an application. If you are unable to file your application, contact your local Legal Aid right away. If your application is approved, you should receive your card within 7-30 days. Benefits will be loaded onto the card monthly.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
1102 South Crenshaw Boulevard
Los Angeles 90019
(323) 801 -7991
Legal Aid Society of Orange County
2101 N. Tustin Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Phone: 800-834-5001 or 714-571-5200
Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino County
588 W. Sixth Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410
Riverside Legal Aid
4129 Main Street, Suite 101
Riverside, CA 92501
CalFresh applicants can complete the required interview by phone. There are a few exceptions:
• If you apply for CalFresh benefits and also apply for cash aid, such as CalWORKs, General Relief, CAPI ( Cash Aid Program for Immigrants).
• If you requested Expedited Services. If so, you will still be required to complete a face-to-face interview in the District Office.
At the interview, in person or over the phone, you will go over the application you filled out and will be asked for additional information. You may bring someone along to help you. You may be sing a form to make them your “authorized representative”.
There are many other programs for which refugees might be eligible, including: Women, Infants, Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and more. Please utilize the caseworkers that are available at service centers to help connect you to needed services.
You will receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card with a monthly balance for food purchases. The monthly amount is dependent on the number of people in your family and how much money your family makes. Your monthly amount will go down when you find employment but it will go back up if your income decreases again. You must inform CDSS within 10 days of any changes in your personal information like:
• Additions to the family
The balance remaining on the EBT card appears at the bottom of every receipt. You may call the 24-Hour Toll-free customer service line to obtain account balance, to report a lost, stolen or damaged card, to request a new card, or to change your personal identification number (PIN). The number to call is (877) 328-9677. It can also be found on the back of your card.
There are several ways to apply for CalFresh
Apply using a paper application