CalFresh Benefits Frequently Asked Questions


Who can receive CalFresh Benefits?

A petitioner can receive CalFresh Benefits if they have a low income, whether or not they work.

What is the California Food Assistance Program?

CFAP is a state-funded CalFresh program for legal permanent non-citizens residing in the U.S. who are determined ineligible for federal food stamps benefits solely due to their immigration status.

If I am receiving SSI/SSP, can I also receive CalFresh benefits?

If the claimant is receiving SSI/SSP, they cannot receive CalFresh benefits in California. However, other household members may be eligible to receive CalFresh benefits.

Do I have to be fingerprinted to receive CalFresh benefits?

The answer is NO.

Can I participate in the Restaurant Meals Program?

If the claimant lives in a county that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program and they are elderly (60 or older), disabled and/or homeless, they can purchase food at approved participating restaurants. They should contact their county representative for details.

How long does it take to get CalFresh benefits?

The County has up to 30 days to approve or deny the claimant’s application. If they need food before 30 days, they may be eligible for Expedited Services.

What does Report My Changes mean?

Households will be reporting their income and living situation every six months. The County will explain the reporting responsibilities.

What does Renew Benefits mean?

Most households must complete a phone or face-to-face interview once a year to determine continued eligibility. The purpose of the interview is to report changes of address, family size, school attendance, employment, income, property, and expenses.

What is the CalFresh definition of a student?

Any person who is: ages 18 through 49; physically and mentally able to work; and enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher learning. Student eligibility requirements can be found online.

I have a criminal record. Am I still eligible for CalFresh benefits?

If the claimant has been convicted of any misdemeanor offense or convicted of any felony offense that is not drug-related, including serious or violent offenses, their criminal record does not affect their eligibility for CalFresh benefits. A record of arrests without conviction only has no bearing on their eligibility for CalFresh.

I have a drug-related felony conviction on my record. Am I still eligible for CalFresh?

It depends on the type of drug-related felony conviction. If the claimant was convicted for use or possession only, they are not barred from receiving CalFresh. If they have been convicted of any of the following felonies, they are not eligible for CalFresh: unlawfully transporting, importing into California, selling, furnishing, administering, giving away, possessing for sale, manufacturing a controlled substance, or cultivating/harvesting/processing marijuana; and for unlawfully soliciting, inducing, encouraging, or intimidating a minor to participate in any of these activities.

I have a drug-related felony conviction not excluded by the law. What do I need to do to get CalFresh?

The claimant needs to provide proof that they are no longer illegally using drugs. The proof must involve one of the following conditions: completion, participation, enrollment, or placement on a waiting list for a government-recognized drug treatment program. If such proof is not available, the claimant may submit self-certification under penalty of perjury that they are no longer using drugs.

I am on probation or parole. Am I still eligible to get CalFresh?

Yes. Being on probation and/or parole does not impact eligibility for CalFresh.

I am not a United States citizen. Can I get CalFresh?

Yes, the claimant may be eligible if they are a “qualified” immigrant. This includes Permanent Legal Residents (holders of green cards), refugees, those granted asylum, people granted withholding of deportation or removal, Cuban/Haitian entrants, individuals paroled into the U.S. for at least a year by immigration authorities, conditional entrants (temporary green cards), and certain victims of domestic violence. Victims of human trafficking (T visa) and applicants for U visa/interim relief are also eligible for CalFresh.

Will my immigration status be reported to immigration authorities?

No. The immigration status information will only be used to check whether the applicant is eligible for CalFresh. Immigration authorities cannot use this information to deport an applicant unless there is a criminal violation involved.

Can my kids get CalFresh even if I don’t have U.S. immigration documents?

Yes, a claimant’s children may be eligible even if the claimant is not. They may apply for CalFresh for their kids (under age 22) who were born in the United States, are permanent residents or qualify for special immigration status. The claimant will have to show proof of their income and resources to determine the amount of their CalFresh.

What is an Agency Conference?

Agency conference is a process that provides the household the right to request a meeting with an eligibility supervisor to informally resolve any dispute as to whether the household meets Expedited Services criteria. The agency conference shall be scheduled within two working days of the request unless the household requests that it be scheduled later or states that they do not wish to have an agency conference.

What is overissuance?

This means the claimant received more CalFresh benefits than they should have. They will have to pay it back even if the County made an error or if it was not on purpose. The benefits may be lowered or stopped. 

What form is the CalFresh Benefits application?

It is CF 285.

What form do I need to file a program complaint of discrimination?

It is the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form AD 3027.

Who presides over a State hearing?

A state Administrative Law Judge.