California SNAP Benefits

SNAP food benefits in California, also known as the food stamps program, has been available in some form in the United States since the 1930s. In 2008, the food stamps benefits program officially changed its name from food stamps to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP benefits are funded by the federal government but are operated by each state. Food stamps benefits in CA are called CalFresh. Benefits for food stamps program are designed to help low income people in the state get access to the nutritional support they need. Since the aim of CalFresh is to keep qualified individuals fed, certain items cannot be purchased with these government benefits.

California food stamps have a simple application process.When a food stamps applicant has been enrolled, he or she will receive an EBT card. Once the applicant has access, his or her benefits card food stamps can be used to buy food items the beneficiary needs. Learn more about CA SNAP benefits and how to get an EBT card below.

Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in California

California SNAP benefits or CalFresh can be used to purchase a variety of food items. An item most likely can be bought with a food stamps benefit card if it provides some form of nourishment to the beneficiary. Food stamps benefits allow enrollees to buy the following types of food items:

  • All meat products
  • Dairy products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Breads and cereals

The food stamps program in CA also covers 'luxury' items such as steak and lobster as well as 'junk' items like candy and soft drinks. Seeds for growing food can be bought with CA SNAP while livestock such as cows or chickens cannot be purchased with these benefits. However, live seafood can be purchased from a fish monger or seafood counter at a grocery store.

Items You Cannot Buy With California SNAP Benefits

Benefits from foods stamps in California and in every other state in the nation cannot be used to buy nonfood items or items that are dangerous to the beneficiary's health. SNAP food stamp benefits cannot be used to buy the following products commonly sold at grocery stores:

  • Pet food
  • Household items
  • Cleaning products
  • Medicines
  • Vitamins
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Other tobacco products

Prepared meals or food eaten while the SNAP beneficiary is at the grocery store cannot be purchased with food stamps. The food stamps benefits card applicants receive cannot be used at ATMs inside vendors that sell alcohol, adult entertainment, legalized or medical marijuana or gambling entertainment. This helps prevent CA food stamps benefits from being used to purchase alcohol or other ineligible items.

How long does it take to receive California SNAP benefits after enrollment?

Food stamps enrollment in the state is governed by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). SNAP applicants must fill out the required form and schedule an interview at their or over the phone. After the CalFresh application process is complete, most applicants will receive word of their enrollment in 30 days. For those who are in extreme need, they can be enrolled in the food stamps benefits program as early as three days after their application was received.

A predetermined SNAP benefits amount will be given to the enrollee each month. The enrollee will receive a food stamps benefits card called an EBT card which he or she can use to purchase items with California food stamps benefits.

California EBT Card Overview

All California food stamps benefits received can be accessed by beneficiaries through their EBT or Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This food stamps card operates like a debit card and can be used at approved grocery stores and other approved vendors. In California, EBT cards can be used at over 15,000 businesses and 54,000 ATMs.

The California SNAP beneficiary will receive their benefits each month on their EBT card. Yet, if he or she uses up the benefits before the end of the month, he or she will have to wait for the next benefits deposit. CalFresh beneficiaries are required to report if their benefits card has been lost or stolen as soon as possible.

Determining Your California SNAP Benefit Amount

Since the purpose of the SNAP benefits program is to provide low income individuals and families with nutritional support, each applicant's need will be assessed. California food stamps recipients' need is evaluated by many factors including their monthly income. Also, SNAP beneficiaries' monthly expenses on housing, utilities, child care and other vital expenses will be evaluated. The amount of family members living in the recipient's household is also another important factor. For example, a parent of three children who is working part time will receive more food stamps benefits than a parent of one child who is working full-time.

California SNAP enrollees may increase the amount of benefits received each month if a qualifying life event occurs. Job loss, reduced working hours or the addition of a family member to the household can increase food stamps benefits for those already enrolled in the program. The amount of benefits from the SNAP program may also vary if the enrollee is elderly or has a disability. For those who are unsatisfied with the amount of benefits they are receiving from the CA food stamps program, they can file an appeal.


What Are Food Stamps?

Food Stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal- and state-funded program that provides low-income Americans with food assistance benefits. Eligible individuals and families can use their state-issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, which are regularly replenished with a set amount of benefits, to purchase approved food items. Learn more about the SNAP program and how you can start receiving benefits here.


Who Is Eligible to Receive Food Stamp Benefits?

Before you can begin obtaining food items with state SNAP benefits, you must apply to the program and prove that you are eligible. All applicants are subject to various requirements established by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These involve household income limits, resource limits, work requirements and more. To find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits, download our guide today.