CalFresh Food is California's name for the federal food program called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that used to be known as Food Stamps.
CalFresh Food is a nutrition program for California residents with low income that increases your food budget. It allows you buy healthy food at most stores, such as food outlets, grocery stores, farmers markets and some restaurants.
Are You Eligible?
Can you get CalFresh Food and how much? This is based on your family size, income and some living costs.
You can use the online tool See if I'm Eligible before completing an actual application to estimate your CalFresh Food eligibility.
Once you apply a County Eligibility Worker will decide if you qualify.
If you need food right away, you may qualify for Expedited Services. Those who qualify will receive CalFresh Food benefits within 3 days from the date you applied.
CalFresh Employment & Training
The CalFresh Employment & Training program (CFET) is a free and voluntary program for people on CalFresh Food benefits gain skills, tools, basic education, training and work experience. This program will help you gain marketable job skills to give you access to better jobs and higher wages. For more program information and locations visit: Santa Clara County CalFresh Employment & Training.
- Complete & Submit Application
- Get an Interview – A phone or in person interview will be scheduled with a County Eligibility Worker.
- Paper documents may be needed if income, citizenship or other information cannot be verified electronically or is questionable. For a list of paper documents that could be needed view Commonly Used Verification Documents.
- Within 30 Days of the day you apply, you will get a Notice of Action (NOA) in mail. This will let you know if your CalFresh Food application was approved or denied.
- If approved, you will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card in mail. You may arrange through your County Eligibility Worker to pick up your EBT card at a County office.
Using Your Benefits
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card
To use your benefits you will get a plastic EBT card, also known as the Golden State Advantage card. You can use it just like a debit or ATM card by entering a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). For security the PIN will be sent in a separate mailing, follow instructions to change PIN.
How to check your EBT card balance, buying history and places to use your EBT card;
Beware of EBT Theft and Scams
Protect yourself against scams, always keep your EBT card and PIN safe and secret. If you receive a text, email or phone call asking for your EBT card number or PIN, DO NOT provide your information, this is a SCAM!
Steps to follow if you have been a victim of stolen benefits:
- Call the EBT Customer Service Line and open a claim at 1-877-328-9677,
- Report the theft to your county worker at 408-758-3800 within 10 days, and
- File a police report for stolen cash benefits
Places Where You Can Use Your EBT Card
Locations post signs if your EBT card can be used there. Here are some types of places you can use your EBT at.
Retail Stores – To find a store that accept EBT cards visit: CalFresh Food Retail Locator.
Restaurants – If you are homeless, disabled or 60 years of age or older you can use your EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food at some restaurants.
To find restaurants that accept EBT cards visit: County of Santa Clara CalFresh Food Restaurant Meals Program or Find a Location Near You.
If you own a restaurant and would like more information about how you can participate in this program, send an email to [email protected]
Farmers' Markets – You can use your EBT card at many Farmers' Markets to buy delicious locally grown produce. Many markets take part in the Market Match program, which doubles your dollars to give you free produce every time you shop.
For more program information and locations visit: Resources to Stretch Your Food Dollars.
Double Up Food Bucks – You can use your EBT card to get more fruits and vegetables at participating grocery stores. For each EBT $1 that you spend on California grown fruits and vegetables you earn $1 to spend on ANY fresh fruits and vegetables.
For more program information and locations visit: DoubleUpCA.org or Find a Location Near You.
Temporary CalFresh Food Benefits
California is issuing temporary CalFresh Food benefits due to the Coronavirus pandemic to eligible households.
Important things to know about these benefits:
- They are temporary,
- They are approved monthly,
- They are separate from your normal CalFresh Food benefits, and
- They may end at any time.
You do not need to call your local Social Services office regarding these benefits. You can call the EBT hotline 1-877-328-9677 to check your EBT balance.
Keeping Your Benefits
The County will send you a form in the mail every 6 months to report changes. These may be changes in your income, rent or other factors that may affect your benefits. If you don't return the form your benefits will be stopped.
You can complete forms online through MyBenefitsCalWIN. For more info on How to Complete the Eligibility Status Report (SAR7) watch this video. You can choose the video in English, Spanish or Vietnamese.
The County will set up a phone or in-person interview once a year for most CalFresh Food households. However, if there are people in your family who are disabled or over 60, you may not need an interview that often. Your County Eligibility Worker will tell you what to expect.
Income Change Reporting
If your income changes between regular reports and exceeds your Income Reporting Threshold (IRT), it must be reported within 10 days. You must report it to your County Eligibility Worker who will inform you of your IRT. If you fail to report this change you may have to repay benefits that you were given in error.
If your mailing address or phone number change, please update your contact information through MyBenefitsCalWIN or contact your County Eligibility Worker.
Things to Know
Manage Benefits Online
- CalFresh Employment & Training
- Free Groceries from Second Harvest of Silicon Valley
- Hot Meals for Older Adults (Meals on Wheels)
- Home Delivered Meal Program
- County of Santa Clara CalFresh Food Restaurant Meals Program & Double Up Food Bucks Locator
- County of Santa Clara Women, Infant & Children (WIC)
- 2-1-1 United Way Bay Area
- Community Resource Guide
- County of Santa Clara CalFresh Policy Handbook