California CalFresh

CalFresh, California’s version of SNAP, is the largest food program in California that provides monthly benefits to low-income households to buy the food they need to maintain adequate nutritional levels.

The program issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy food at most grocery stores and many farmers markets throughout California.

In order to qualify for CalFresh, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Live in California.
  2. Be a US Citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
  3. Receive CalWORKs or General Relief.
  4. Meet certain income guidelines, which is 200% of the poverty level.

Everyone who gets CalFresh benefits are required to register for work and participate in CalFresh Employment and Training (E&T) program in order to maintain eligibility, unless otherwise exempt.

If you are a CalFresh recipient 18—50 years of age without a child, you must meet special work requirements or you’ll be subject to the three-month time limit.


What is the maximum income to qualify for CalFresh? #

Most families with gross income less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level qualify for CalFresh. For a family of three, that's about $4,143 a month.

Family Size 100% 200%
1 $1,215 $2,430
2 $1,643 $3,287
3 $2,072 $4,143
4 $2,500 $5,000
5 $2,928 $5,857
6 $3,357 $6,713
7 $3,785 $7,570
8 $4,213 $8,427

Gross income limit applies to most households, except those in which at least one person is 60 years of age or older, or receives disability income.

There is no asset test for most households in California. The best way to determine whether you’re eligible is to apply right away.

Beginning June 1, 2019, recipients of SSI/SSP benefits may be eligible for CalFresh benefits for the first time.

How much is CalFresh per month in California? #

CalFresh benefit amount is largely dependent on your household size, net income, and certain other expenses. In California, an individual can receive up to $281 per month for food if their monthly income is under $2,430.

The table below shows the maximum monthly CalFresh benefits you could receive if you have no income.

  • Family Size SNAP Benefits
  • 1 $281
  • 2 $516
  • 3 $740
  • 4 $939
  • 5 $1,116
  • 6 $1,339
  • 7 $1,480
  • 8 $1,691

The actual SNAP benefit amounts are based on a household's net income with a general rule that an increase of $100 in net income results in a reduction of $30 in benefits.

SNAP benefits in California and elsewhere also come with perks that go beyond purchasing food — including discounts on certain products and services like Amazon Prime discount where you can save 50% off their Prime memberships.

Can you apply for CalFresh online? #

Yes. You can complete the CalFresh application at your local county office or online at California’s

Once your application is filed, the county will review the application and conduct an interview to determine your eligibility.

CalFresh Benefits Helpline

Is CalFresh and EBT the same? #

CalFresh benefits are provided through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a bank debit card or credit card, which can be used wherever EBT is accepted.

If you are eligible, an EBT account is set up for you, and every month your benefits will be deposited right into your account.

If you are homeless, disabled or 60 years of age or older, you can use your CalFresh EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food at some restaurants.

Find restaurants that accept EBT cards.

How long does it take to get approved for CalFresh? #

In most cases, the county has up to 30 days to approve or deny your application. If you are eligible for expedited service, you’ll get your benefits within a few days, but no later than 7 days from application.

I need food now. Where can I get it? #

If you need food now, you may contact your local food bank. You may also call 2-1-1, a resource helpline for referrals for childcare, affordable housing or shelter, cash assistance, healthcare and more.

What can you buy with CalFresh benefits? #

CalFresh can be used to buy

  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Beans, fish, poultry, meat;
  • Rice, bread, tortillas, cereal;
  • Milk and cheese; and
  • Seeds and plants that produce food.

CalFresh cannot be used to buy

  • Alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes;
  • Non-food items (pet food, toilet paper, diapers, soap, etc.);
  • Vitamins and medicine;
  • Foods that will be eaten in the store; and
  • Hot foods (unless your county participates in the Restaurant Meals Program).

Do you have to pay back CalFresh? #

No. You will not have to pay back any benefits you were eligible to receive. Unless, there is a mistake and you receive more than you are eligible for, you will be responsible for paying that amount back.

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