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Help Buying Groceries (CalFresh Food)

Santa Clara County Social Services Agency wants to keep you safe & healthy.
Agencia de Servicios Sociales del Condado de Santa Clara quiere mantenerlo seguro y saludable.
Sở Xã Hội của Hạt Santa Clara muốn quý vị được an toàn va khỏe mạnh.

Lobbies are temporarily closed.
Recepciones temporalmente cerradas.
Sảnh chính tạm thời đóng cửa.

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.


Application Process

Application Process

Using Benefits

Using Your Benefits

Renewing Coverage

Keeping Your Benefits

Application Process

  1. Complete & Submit Application
  2. Get an Interview – A phone or in person interview will be scheduled with a County Eligibility Worker.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 CalFresh Food 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;

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!

If you lose your EBT card or are a victim of a scam call 1-877-328-9677.


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 RMP@ssa.sccgov.org

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.

Keeping Your Benefits

Regular Reporting

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.

Account Maintenance

If your mailing address or phone number change, please update your contact information through MyBenefitsCalWIN or contact your County Eligibility Worker.

CalFresh Program
Things to Know
  
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Due to wildfire evacuations in Santa Clara County. From 8/22/20 - 9/23/20 CalFresh Food EBT cards can be used to purchase prepared hot foods at authorized retailers. To find authorized retailers visit the CalFresh Food Retail Locator.

Prepared Foods ​​

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Did you know? Many of the people who qualify for CalFresh Food, can also get health coverage through Medi-Cal program. Medi-Cal provides free or low-cost health insurance for eligible individuals that comes with a range of health benefits and services.​

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To make it easier to find Double Up Food Bucks and Restaurant Meals Program locations we have developed an online locator Check it out.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What foods can you purchase with your CalFresh Food benefits?
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CalFresh Food can be used to buy any food that are produced for human consumption. You cannot buy hot foods or lunch counter items prepared or heated in the store; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; vitamins or medicines; pet food; or nonfood items. Seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food can also be purchased.​​
What is the minimum required to file an application and how long will it take to know I’m approved?
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If filing out the entire CalFresh Food application is difficult for you, you can submit the application with only your name, address, and signature. A County Worker will assist you in filing out the rest of the application.

In most cases, the County has 30 days after you turn in your application to determine if you will get CalFresh Food benefits. During the 30 days, the County will interview you by phone or in person.
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Can recipients of SSI/SSP receive CalFresh Food benefits?
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Yes.  Effective 6/1/19, SSI/SSP recipients can receive CalFresh benefits if they meet all other eligibility criteria.

Can single people living alone receive CalFresh Food benefits?
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Yes. Being married and/or having children is NOT a requirement.

Can a homeless person receive CalFresh Food benefits?
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Yes. A person must reside in the county in which an application is filed. However, residence in a permanent dwelling or a fixed mailing address is NOT required​.​​
Can I get CalFresh Food if I am not a United States citizen?
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You may be eligible if you are a “qualified” noncitizen. This includes Legal Permanent 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 can also be eligible for CalFresh​.​​
Can my children get CalFresh Food even if I don’t have immigration documents?
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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 a Qualified Noncitizen.
What if I have a bank account?
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Liquid resources such as cash, checking and saving accounts are not counted in the CalFresh Food program​.
What if I’m disabled and unable to cook for myself?
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Disabled and elderly individuals may have others assist them with cooking when needed. Also, disabled, homeless and people 60 years and older can buy prepared meals under the Restaurant Meals Program​.​​​​​​​​​
Am I eligible if I have a drug-related felony conviction on my record?
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Yes. As of April 1, 2015, you may be eligible for CalFresh if you follow the terms of your probation or parole, if applicable​.
What do I do if I have a question or a complaint about my application or case?
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  • Contact the County Worker that is handling your case. You will find their contact information of the top right corner of the last County Notice of Action (NOA).
  • If you are not satisfied with the response from your County Worker, ask to speak to a Supervisor.
  • If you are not satisfied with the response from a Supervisor;
  • You may request a free confidential case review from our County Ombudsman Office by emailing Ombudsman@ssa.sccgov.org.

    OR

    You have a right to ask for Hearing. To request a Hearing, follow the instructions on the back side of the County NOA you received.

    Fill out the back of the NOA and send or take page to;
    Appeals Unit
    County of Santa Clara Social Services
    333 W Julian St.
    San Jose, CA 95110-2335

    OR

    Call 1-800-952-5253
    TDD for hearing or speech impaired 1-800-952-8349

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Last updated: 7/1/2020 5:15 PM