Supplementing your Food Supplies While on SNAP in California

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) works to improve the health of low-income individuals who are at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diet with nutritious food from the United States Department of Agriculture. To learn about different aspects of the California Supplemental Food Program, take a look at the following sections:
•    Administration of CSFP
•    Eligibility requirements for CSFP
•    Foods provided by CSFP


Administration of CSFP

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federally funded program that provides nutritious food supplements to eligible recipients. CSFP is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA purchases food and makes it available to CSFP State agencies. State agencies that administer CSFP are typically the departments of health, social services, education, or agriculture. State agencies store the food and distribute it to both public and non-profit private local agencies. Local agencies determine the eligibility of applicants, distribute the foods, and provide nutritional education. Local agencies also provide referrals to other welfare, nutrition, and health care programs such as WIC, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Medicare.

In California, administration of CSFP lies with the California Department of Education. The CSFP is currently operated in California by the San Diego Food Bank, San Francisco Food Bank, Community Action Partnership of Orange County, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and The Modesto Love Center.

Eligibility Requirements for CSFP

The CSFP program benefits low-income elderly individuals who are at least 60 years of age. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, and children up to six years of age also participate in the program, but are being phased out by the Agricultural Act of 2014. As required by the 2014 Farm Bill, women, infants, and children who applied to participate in CSFP on February 7, 2014, or later cannot be certified to participate in the program. These individuals may be eligible for other nutrition assistance programs such as WIC and SNAP. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program distributes food and administrative funds to states rather than on food vouchers, like the WIC program provides to participants. Individuals cannot participate in both WIC and CSFP at the same time.

CSFP participants must reside in one of the states or on one of the Indian reservations that participate in CSFP. States establish income limits for CSFP eligibility that are at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. States also establish income limits for the children who remain in the program that are at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, but not below 100 percent of these guidelines. States may establish local residency requirements based on designated service areas, but may not require a minimum period of residency. States may also require that participants be at nutritional risk, as determined by a physician or by local agency staff.

Persons with disabilities who require alternate means of communication for program information, such as Braille, large print, audiotape, and American Sign Language, should contact the state or local agency where they applied for benefits. Also, program information may be made available in languages other than English. An applicant can always file a program complaint of discrimination by completing the USDA Program Discrimination Form (AD-3027), found online, and submit the completed form by mail, fax, or email.

Foods Provided by CSFP

Food packages provided to Commodity Supplemental Food Program beneficiaries include a variety of foods such as nonfat, dry and ultra-high-temperature fluid milk, juice, farina, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, peanut butter, dry beans, canned meat, poultry, fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. Other food items provided by CSFP include beans, black-eyed peas, American and skim-milk cheese, canned chicken, and corn grits.