Orange County Food Help

What is the CalFresh Program?

The CalFresh Program, formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can add to your food budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table. The program issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores. The amount of the benefit is based on the size of your household, your income, and your housing expenses. CalFresh benefits come on a plastic card, called the Golden State Advantage Card, which you can use just like a bank card at most food stores.

How do I apply for CalFresh?

You can apply for CalFresh by booking an appointment online using our Appointment Plus System or by calling 2-1-1 to make an appointment by phone.

What do I need to bring?

1. Photo ID for all adults
Either Driver’s License, State ID, or Passport
2. Social Security Number
A memorized number is OK
3. Proof of Income
Paycheck, Social Security Award Letter, etc. from the last month
4. Proof of Expenses
Rent or mortgage statement, gas and electric bill, cell phone or home phone bill, childcare expenses, child support, out of pocket medical expenses (for people with a
disability or 60+ years old)

How long do the appointments last?

The application should be done in 30 minutes.

Do you have workshops available to help me apply?

Yes, we offer workshops.

A CalFresh Application assistance workshop is a safe place where people may apply for CalFresh at a familiar site in their community. A CalFresh outreach worker leads people through completing the CalFresh application in a small group setting. At the completion of that process, County of Orange CalFresh eligibility staff visit the community site to meet individually with people. County workers review the application and all required documentation with the applicants. In most cases, the applicant has a strong indication regarding their eligibility for CalFresh at the conclusion of that meeting, without ever needing to visit a County office.

Who is going to help me at my appointment?

One of our CalFresh Application Assistors. Our staff is located throughout Orange County to provide convenient, friendly, and quick application assistance for CalFresh (food stamps), Medi-Cal, and other programs.

What can I buy with my CalFresh Benefits?

You can buy food as well as plants and seeds to grow food. Click here to learn more about growing your own food. You will not be charged sales tax on items you buy with CalFresh. You cannot buy pet food, vitamins, medicines, alcohol, tobacco, paper products, fast food or food that will be eaten in the store.

Can I use Cal Fresh at Farmer’s Markets?

Yes, for a list of Farmer’s Markets accepting Cal Fresh click here.

What is Market Match?

When you use your CalFresh EBT card at a Market Match participating farmers’ market, you can double your money, up to $10 free per day.

What is the Restaurant Meal Program?

If you are elderly (60 or older), disabled and/or homeless, you can purchase food at approved participating restaurants. Click here to learn more about our restaurant meals program.

Is there a limit on the number of people I can apply for?

No, there is no limit to the number of people you can apply for; however, the people you can apply for must live in your home and buy and eat meals with you in the home. If you have children less than 22 years of age living with you in the home, you must apply for them and their family, if any, even if they buy and eat meals separately from your family.

How long does it take to get CalFresh?

The county has up to 30 days to approve or deny your application.

What does ‘Report My Changes or Renew Benefits' mean?

Most people will need to report their income and living situation in the 6th month of their yearly CalFresh certification period. The county will tell you more about what and when you will need to report.

How to Renew Benefits?

Once a year all households must attend an interview to determine continued eligibility. The purpose of the interview is to report changes of address, family size, children’s school attendance, employment, income, property and expenses.

Will my immigration status be reported to immigration authorities?

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

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

Yes, your children may be eligible even if you aren’t. You may apply for CalFresh for your kids (under age 22) who were born in the United States, are permanent residents or qualify for special immigration status. You will have to show proof of your income and resources to determine the amount of their CalFresh.

Will receiving CalFresh on behalf of my children make it harder to get a green card or become a citizen?

No, unlike receiving other cash assistance, receiving CalFresh does not make an immigrant a “public charge.” The immigrant will not be denied entry to the country, or denied lawful permanent residence or a “green card” because he or she receives CalFresh benefits. An immigrant’s use of CalFresh is not relevant in deciding whether he/she can become a U.S. citizen. The exception is where the CalFresh benefits were received or used fraudulently, (for example, if the immigrant did not tell the truth about where he/she lived or his/her income, etc.).

What is the OC CalFresh Collaborative?

The CalFresh Collaborative exists because of one reason: to help our community. We are working together with the sole purpose of making it easier for people to apply for CalFresh benefits, with the help of our friendly staff at trusted and convenient locations throughout Orange County. By offering the community one phone number to call and one website to visit for food assistance, our hope is that getting access to food will be easier than ever before.