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CalFresh Eligibility

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What is CalFresh?

CalFresh, is a nutrition assistance program that helps low income individuals and families buy food that they need. CalFresh is extra money to help meet your food needs. CalFresh's goal is to address food need and accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables.

An eligible person or family receives an CalFresh aid through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like any other debit card at the grocery store. 


Who is Eligible for CalFresh?

Check out the CalFresh Pre Screen Tool for College Students to determine your eligibility! Still not sure if you're eligible? Make an appointment today to discuss the CalFresh Nutrition Assistance Program! Call us at 805-922-6966 ext. 3927


Scheduling an appointment to discuss eligibility is the first step!

If eligible, our Basic Needs Specialist will schedule an appointment to complete the application and ask clients bring required documents to supplement the CalFresh Application. 

Once the CalFresh application and verification documents are submitted, the next 30-days are crucial.

During the next 30-days, clients will have their interview with the county and the opportunity to submit any remaining verification documents. 

Follow-up with Basic Needs:
Once approved for CalFresh, stop by the Basic Needs to understand your benefits, how to maintain them and ensure your eligibility remains. 

According to CalFresh, a "household" is a group of people who regularly buy and eat food together. The people in a household do not have to be related to each other.

  • Households can be as small as one person
  • The same address can have more than one household (i.e., if you are sharing a house with roommates and apply separately OR if there are multiple families in your house)
  • You don’t need to have a home to receive CalFresh (i.e. residing in a shelter facility or automobile)

At least ONE person in your household must have a social security number. This can be a child applying for benefits on behalf of the family.

Your pre-tax income must be less than the amount allowed (see chart)

Use this chart to see if your household’s monthly income, before taxes and other deductions, is under the limit allowed for your household size.

  • Please note the following household types that must apply together:
    • Children under the age of 22 who are living with their biological, adoptive, or stepparent(s)
    • A married couple who lives together
    • An unmarried couple living together with a common child

What if I own a car? You can own a car and still qualify for CalFresh.

What if I have a job? You can have a job and still qualify for CalFresh.

What if I own my home? You can own the home you live in and still qualify for CalFresh.

What if I am homeless? You can qualify for CalFresh even if you do not have a home, address, or place to cook. People without homes can often get benefits within three days.

What if no one in my household is a U.S. citizen? You may still qualify if you or someone in your household has a Green Card, or is a permanent resident (LPR). For additional information see the USDA Food and Nutrition Service policy on Non-Citizen Eligibility at

Can I qualify if I do not have a family? Individuals can qualify for CalFresh. You do not have to have children to qualify.

Can I get CalFresh if I am in the military? If you meet the eligibility requirements you can qualify for CalFresh if you are in the military.

I live with roommates, but we buy separate groceries. Will we be a household of 1 or 2? For CalFresh purposes, a household is defined as an individual, couple, or family that purchases and prepares food together, meets certain income guidelines, and has U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency. If each roommate purchases and prepares food separately, each will be a household of one.

I am 21 and live with my parents; can I apply for CalFresh as my own household? People who must apply together include:

  • A married couple who lives together
  • Children under 22 living with their biological, adoptive, or stepparent(s)
  • An unmarried couple living together with a common child

Once the CalFresh application has been submitted, clients will have 30-days to complete an interview with the county and submit required documents. 

School documents can often be found on your myHancock Portal!

Required documents can include, but not limited too:

  • Proof of Identity (ID, Drivers License, or Passport)
  • Proof of Residency (Mail with current address)
  • Proof of rent (Lease or most recent rent payment stub)
  • Proof of Employment (Pay stubs)
  • Proof of School Enrollment (Class Schedule)
  • Proof of Student Exemption (Degree enrolled in)
  • Proof of Utility Expenses (Water or Electric Bills)
  • Proof of Financial Assistance (Monetary gifts from family and friends)

Need to submit documents? Use the county's contact form to upload verification documents.

What can you buy with your CalFresh benefits?

  • Fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy  
  • Seeds to grow your own food at home

You can use your benefits at some of the following stores, but not limited too: 

  • Aldi
  • Albertsons
  • CVS 
  • Dollar Tree
  • Food Maxx
  • Foods Co
  • Target
  • Trader Joe's 
  • Vallarta Supermarkerts
  • Vons
  • Walmart & its Neighborhood Markets
  • Walgreens
  • 99 Cent Store

Did you miss your interview or are you experiencing issues with CalFresh?
If your card has been lost, stolen or you have questions about your eligbility, contact a Santa Barbara County benefits office for support.

Santa Maria Main Office 
2123 Center Pointe Pkwy
Santa Maria, CA 93455
805- 346- 7135
Mon- Fri; 8 am- 4 pm
(For questions about new applications and current cases) 

Santa Maria Self-Suffiency Services
1444 S. Broadway 
Santa Maria, CA 93454
805- 614- 1300
Mon.- Fri; 8 am- 4 pm
(For questions about status updates of pending and current cases) 

The Benefits Center
844- 289- 4682
Call only. 
No pending applications updates. 
Mon. - Fri; 8 am- 4 pm 
(Ongoing CalFresh & Medi-Cal cases only)

For further questions about CalFresh, visit our CalFresh FAQs or contact the Basic Needs Center today at (805)- 922- 6966, ext. 3927