How do I apply for CalFresh?
Click on the link: How to Apply for CalFresh
How long should it take to process my application?
All CalFresh applications must be processed as soon as possible but no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the date the application was filed. The County must notify the applicant if eligible or not, no later than 30 calendar days from the date of application.
If you qualify, you may be eligible to CalFresh Expedited Service and get your CalFresh in three (3) days (See FAQ “What is CalFresh Expedited Service?”).
To improve access and provide superior customer service with fewer office visits and same day interviews, the Family Resource Centers are transitioning from individual staff caseloads to a Task Based Model, including the implementation of a Customer Service Center (ACCESS 1-866-262-9881). This means tasks such as processing applications and re-certifying eligibility are completed by a larger group of staff while ACCESS assists with individual inquiries/status, case changes, and other activities allowing Family Resource Center staff to focus on processing applications. To help accomplish this, staffs were cross-trained to administer more than one program. With this new business process, applications are now accepted and processed at any Family Resource Center.
What is CalFresh Expedited Service?
CalFresh Expedited Service means you can get your CalFresh in three days
You are eligible to CalFresh Expedited Service if:
- Your household has less than $150.00 in monthly gross income and does not have assets (resources) over $100.00; or
- Your household’s total monthly income and resources are less than the monthly rent or mortgage, and utilities; or
- You are a migrant or seasonal farm worker and you do not have assets (resources) over $100.00.
What is the County doing to reduce wait times and long lines in Family
To improve access and provide superior customer service with fewer office visits and same day interviews, the Family Resource Centers are transitioning from individual staff assignments/caseloads to a Task Based Model, including the implementation of a Customer Service Center (ACCESS 1-866-262-9881). This means tasks such as processing applications and re-certifying eligibility are completed by a larger group of staff while ACCESS assists with individual inquiries/status, case changes, and other activities allowing Family Resource Center staff to focus on processing applications. To help accomplish this, staff were cross-trained to administer more than one program. With this new business process, applications are now accepted and processed at any Family Resource Center.
In addition, CalFresh regulations allow phone interviews rather than face-to-face interviews for all households.
For families currently receiving CalFresh and going through the re-certification process, a phone interview may also be completed in lieu of a face-to-face interview for all households.
Are CalFresh applicants subject to automatic home visits from fraud investigators?
CalFresh only applicants are not subject to mandatory home visits by fraud investigators. Only CalWORKs applicants, who have not received benefits within the last 12 months, are subject to a home visit by a fraud investigator under the Project 100% program for the purpose of confirming eligibility for CalWORKs benefits.
Although the majority of new CalWORKs applicants also apply for CalFresh, the Project 100% home visit is not intended to verify information relevant to the CalFresh application. For CalFresh, a fraud referral/home visit is triggered when a credible allegation of fraud is received through the Fraud Referral Hotline or when significant discrepant information is received by the worker.
Why do CalFresh applicants have to be photographed and fingerprinted?
Effective January 1, 2012, CalFresh applicants are not required to be photographed or fingerprinted.
However, households applying for CalWORKs or General Relief and CalFresh are still required to be fingerprinted and photo imaged for the purpose of determining eligibility for CalWORKs or General Relief only.
What can I buy with the CalFresh EBT card?
You can use CalFresh to buy bread, cereal, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. Households cannot use CalFresh benefits to buy nonfood items such as pet food, soap, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, vitamins, medicines, food to eat in the store, or hot foods.
To find stores in San Diego County that accept CalFresh/SNAP EBT cards, click: SNAP Retailer Locator
Can I get CalFresh just for myself if I live with my family or with others?
People who live together and purchase food and prepare meals together are grouped as a "household". Husbands and wives and their children under age 22 must be one household.
Will I have to get a Social Security Number to get CalFresh?
Yes, in most cases you must have or apply for a Social Security Number for each household member.
Can a homeless person get CalFresh?
Yes. A person must reside in the county in which an application is filed. Residing in permanent housing or having a fixed mailing address is not required.
Can I get CalFresh if I am not working?
Yes. Additionally, CalFresh offers help to those looking for a job through its Employment & Training (E&T) program.
How much income can we have to qualify for CalFresh?
To be eligible your total income must be less or equal to the Maximum Monthly Gross Income Standard and Net Monthly Income Standard limits. Gross income is your income before taxes and other deductions allowed under the program. Net Income is what is left over after the CalFresh deductions. Households with at least one member who is disabled or age 60 or older have to meet the Net Monthly Income limit only for the household size. See the CalFresh Income Limit Chart.
What are the CalFresh allowable deductions?
Deductions are expenses allowed under the program that can be subtracted from the household’s monthly gross income to determine eligibility and the amount of CalFresh benefits that will be received monthly. CalFresh deductions include:
- 20% deduction from earned income,
- Standard deduction of $167 for households with 1-3 members,
- Standard deduction of $181 for a household with 4 members,
- Standard deduction of $212 for a household with 5 members,
- Standard deduction of $243 for a household with 6 or more members,
- Cost of child care when needed to work, seek work or attend training for work,
- Medical expenses exceeding $35 for elderly or disabled household members,
- Court ordered child support payments paid to non-household members, and
- A portion of shelter (rent or mortgage) and utility costs.
Can I get CalFresh if I am not a United States citizen?
You may be eligible if you are a “qualified” noncitizen. This includes Permanent Legal Residents (holders of a green card), refugees, asylees (an individual who has been granted asylum), individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal, Cuban/Haitian entrants, individuals paroled into the U.S. for a least one year by immigration authorities, conditional entrants (temporary green card). Certain victims of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking (T visa) and applicants for U visa/interim relief are also eligible for CalFresh.
Will the County report my immigration status to the immigration authorities?
No. Your immigration status information will only be used to check whether you are eligible for CalFresh.
Will I have problems with immigration when applying for a green card or
citizenship if I apply for CalFresh for my children?
No. Unlike receiving other cash assistance, receiving CalFresh does not make an immigrant a “public charge.” CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program. An immigrant’s use of CalFresh is not used in deciding whether he/she can obtain a green card or become a United States citizen, except if CalFresh was obtained fraudulently, (e.g. if the immigrant did not report all his/her income, etc).
Can my children get CalFresh even if I don’t have immigration documents?
Yes. Your children may be eligible even if you are not. You may apply for CalFresh for your child(ren) who were born in the United States, or are permanent residents.
Am I eligible for CalFresh if I have a drug-related felony conviction on
Yes. As of April 1, 2015, you may be eligible for CalFresh as long as you are in compliance with the terms of your probation or parole, if applicable.
Can I get CalFresh if I receive SSI/SSP benefits?
As of June 1, 2019, SSI/SSP recipients may be eligible to receive CalFresh.
Can I get CalFresh if I am a college student?
Students, ages 18 through 49 enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time, students may be able to get CalFresh if they are:
- Physically or mentally unfit, or
- Working at least 20 hours per week, or
- Participating in a state or federally financed work study program, or
- Participating in an on-the-job training program, or
- Receiving CalWORKs benefits, or
- Taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 6, or
- Taking care of a dependent household member over the age of 6 but under 12 and do not have adequate child care to be able to attend school and work a minimum of 20 hours, or take part in a state or federally financed work study program, or
- Single parent enrolled full time in college and taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 12, or
- Enrolled in college as a result of participation in the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), or the Job Opportunities and Basic Skill (JOBS) program under Title IV of the Social Security Act.
- Voluntarily participating in The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) or The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS).
- Voluntarily participating in EOP, JOBS, DSPS, CARE, MESA, Puente, McNAIR, Former Foster Youth Programs, Cal Grant A&B that meet TANF requirements.
Who do I call if I have questions about my case or application?
To find out about the status of your case or application, or to ask any other question about your case, you can:
- Call ACCESS:
- The phone number to ACCESS is: 1 (866) 262-9881
- The TDD number for the hearing impaired is: 711, or
- Fax ACCESS:
- The fax number is (858) 467-9088.
To go to the ACCESS webpage click: County of San Diego: ACCESS
- Call ACCESS:
If I am eligible for General Relief, am I also eligible for CalFresh?
If you are eligible for General Relief, you are probably also eligible for CalFresh. You must apply for CalFresh separately, but can do so at the same time as you apply for General Relief.
What is San Diego County doing to increase enrollment in CalFresh?
Since 2006, the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has been actively engaged in outreach and has partnered with a number of internal and external organizations to help inform residents of the availability of CalFresh and how to apply for them. On January 27th, 2009, the Board of Supervisors directed HHSA to identify ways to simplify CalFresh and seek funding to establish an incentive program to purchase fruits and vegetables. Based on the Board’s directive, HHSA is developing potential new strategies and partnerships.