It’s always important to stay on top of updates on food assistance programs, and today we bring good news for families in California. The income limits for determining eligibility for CalFresh benefits have been increased, meaning more California families will be able to receive food stamps to help meet their nutritional needs.
CalFresh is the name of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamp program in California. This program provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families, helping them purchase nutritious food for themselves and their loved ones.
New Income Limits to Apply for CalFresh Benefits
The new income limits are calculated based on household size and monthly gross income. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), these new thresholds are as follows for the CalFresh beneficiaries, regarding the household’s size:
- 1 person: $1,580
- 2 people: $2,137
- 3 people: $2,694
- 4 people: $3,250
- 5 people: $3,807
- 6 people: $4,364
- 7 people: $4,921
- 8 people: $5,478
Families with 9 or more members must add an extra $557 to the final amount of $5,478 to determine their income eligibility limits. These new income limits apply from October 1, 2023. From that day on, families wishing to qualify must be below these maximums to apply.
What are the eligibility requirements for Calfresh
If you happen to reside in California and find yourself grappling with low or even no income, there is a potential lifeline available to you in the form of CalFresh assistance. This invaluable program is accessible to a diverse range of individuals facing financial hardships. Eligible candidates comprehend:
- Homeless Individuals: Those suffering the challenging circumstances of homelessness can access CalFresh support.
- Higher Education Students: If you are a student pursuing higher education and meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, you too can benefit from CalFresh.
- Recipients of SSI/SSP: Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or State Supplementary Payment (SSP) are included in the scope of CalFresh assistance.
- Legal Immigrants: The majority of legal immigrants in California are eligible to apply for CalFresh benefits.
Take into account that a CalFresh household constitutes all individuals who cohabit and regularly engage in grocery shopping and meal preparation together. In general, households must maintain a total gross monthly income that is either less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level to potentially qualify for CalFresh assistance.
If you think you meet all the requirements and want to apply, you can start the process by visiting the official website of California Department of Social Services, here. Some other food and nutrition services are available, if you don’t qualify for CalFresh.
How to Apply for CalFresh Assistance in California
- You can submit your application, the process should take about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can apply by phone during business hours at 1-800-281-9799. You can also download a CalFresh application and mail it to the County of Orange Social Services Agency, or fax it at ssa.ocgov.com. Lastly, you can apply in person at a Social Services Agency Regional Center
- Documents: You need to submit proof within 30 days of applying. This includes documents like your ID, paystubs, or rent receipts. If you can’t get the proof, CalFresh will generally accept a sworn statement as a last resort.
- Interview: After submitting your application, your county will call you within a week or two for an eligibility interview. During your interview, if you can’t provide the necessary documents, you can explain your situation to your caseworker.
- Approval: If approved, you will get an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card for groceries within 10 days. The EBT card works like a debit card and automatically reloads every month. You can use your EBT card to purchase groceries online at Amazon and Walmart, as well as at most grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers’ markets.
Where Can I Use My EBT Card to Purchase Groceries Online?
EBT online purchasing availability may vary by state, and not all online grocery stores participate in the program. Several major retailers in the United States accept your CalFresh money, and you will be able to shop at the following places (among many others):
- BJ’s Wholesale Club
- City Market
- Food Lion
- Harris Teeter
- Market Basket
- Piggly Wiggly
- Schwan’s Fine Food
- Save A Lot
- Stop & Shop
- Trader Joe’s
Recently, Uber Eats announced that it is going to start accepting EBT cards from 2024, in an attempt to do two things: first, to catch up with its competitors, such as Instacart and Amazon Fresh, who have already accepted food stamps for a long time. And secondly, to collaborate with the SNAP program’s goal of reducing barriers so that families have access to fresher and healthier foods.