CalFresh FAQ

CalFresh Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

blue back ground with several question marks


Some of the more frequently asked questions  about CalFresh benefits are listed below.



How soon will I receive my CalFresh benefits?

You will receive CalFresh benefits within 30 days of submitting your dated application, after all required information has been provided and verified for eligibility.

What if I need help right away?

You may qualify for Expedited Services and receive your CalFresh benefits within three (3) days if you meet the requirements for Expedited Services. 


Am I required to be a citizen to receive CalFresh benefits?

Talk to a CalFresh Eligibility Worker. Even if you are not eligible for CalFresh benefits, other members of your household may be eligible. Parents who do not qualify themselves can apply for their children born in the United States. If you do receive CalFresh benefits, it will not count against you when you apply to become a citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S.

What can CalFresh benefits be used to purchase?

CalFresh benefits can be used to purchase:

• Foods for human consumption.
• Seeds and plants to grow food for household use.

Are there items I cannot purchase with CalFresh benefits?

Yes. CalFresh benefits cannot be used to purchase:

  • Any non-food items, including pet food, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics.
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
  • Energy drinks, vitamins and medicines.
Can I get CalFresh if I am not working?

Yes, but you may be required to participate in a work or training program.

Can I get CalFresh if I am working?

Yes, if your income does not exceed the eligibility requirements, you may receive CalFresh benefits even if you work.


Income eligibility limits vary depending on the number of persons in your household.

What if I am elderly or have a disability?

You are not required to obtain employment or participate in a work or training program to qualify for CalFresh if your income does not exceed the eligibility requirements and you are either 60 years of age or older, or you qualify as disabled.


Be sure and tell the Eligibility Worker if you are responsible for paying high medical bills that are not covered by insurance because this information may be factored into determining your eligibility for CalFresh benefits.

What is the amount of CalFresh benefits I will receive?

The amount of CalFresh benefits you may be eligible to receive is based on the number of persons CalFresh-Monthly-Income-Limits-FFY2024.png  residing in your household, the total amount of your household's income, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Thrifty Food Plan. The Thrifty Food Plan is an estimate of how much it costs to provide a household with nutritious, low-cost meals. 

The chart on the right displays both: 

  • 2023-2024 CalFresh Income & Eligibility Limits 
  • Maximum Monthly Allotment based on household size


What if I need Cash Assistance?

CalFresh does not provide cash assistance, but other programs may be able to help.

How can I Contact Customer Service for EBT?

The EBT vendor provides a 24-hour, toll-free, Customer Service helpline 1 (877) 328-9677. The helpline provides access to an ARU (Automated Response Unit) and access to a Customer Service Representative. Customers may call the helpline for the following:

  • Obtain account balance(s)To report lost, stolen, or damaged cards
  • Request a new card
  • Change your Personal Identification Number (PIN)

You can also visit the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) website at:

Prevent EBT Fraud

  • Please be cautious as there are many EBT card scams that are occurring.
  • Do not give out your EBT card number and PINs as the county, state, and federal government will NEVER ask you for your EBT card number and PIN by a text message, phone call, email, or on a website.
  • Do not let anyone take a picture of your EBT card.
  • You may visit California EBT Project Office website to view current scams that have been reported.
How do I report an EBT Merchant?

If you would like to notify the USDA Office of the Inspector General regarding a merchant please visit the USDA web site at and/or submit an online form to the USDA OIG hotline at or call:

or write:

United States Department of Agriculture
Office of Inspector General
PO Box 23399
Washington, DC 20026-3399