California Food Stamps and EBT Guide

If you are trying to see if you are eligible to apply for Food stamps in California (SNAP) or need more information about California EBT, you’ve come to the right place. The California food stamps and EBT program, also called CalFresh, is a federal nutrition program that helps low-income individuals and families buy food.

Food Stamps benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets.

The program is run at the state level by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS)

If you apply and are approved for benefits, your monthly food stamps allocation will be given to you each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which works like a debit card.

We have provided below everything you need to know to successfully apply for food stamps. We have also explained how EBT Card works and what you can expect with your card if you are approved for food stamps.

In this post, we will cover the following:

  • Should I apply for California Food Stamps?
  • Who is Eligible for California Food Stamps?
  • 2019 California Food Stamps Income Limit
  • How Much Will I Recieve in California Food Stamps?
  • How to Apply for California Food Stamps
  • How long to get Approved for California Food Stamps?
  • What is California EBT Card?
  • What can I buy with EBT in California?
  • What time are Food Stamps EBT deposited in California?
  • How to Check California EBT Card Balance?
  • How Do I Get a California EBT Card Replacement?
  • California EBT Discounts, Perks and Freebies

"California Food Stamps and EBT"

Should I apply for California Food Stamps?

If you’ve hit tough times and are struggling to afford food for yourself or your family, you should consider applying for food stamps.

The food stamps program is a federal entitlement program. This means anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. You will not be taking away benefits from someone else if you apply.

In addition, the food stamps program is a nutrition program and not a welfare cash assistance program (which is called TANF). You do not have to be receiving TANF to get food stamps.

Who is Eligible for California Food Stamps?

The food stamps program is SNAP focused on helping low-income individuals and families, predominantly serving households with children, elderly or disabled members.

Nearly half of all food stamps participants are children.

Eligibility for SNAP is limited to people with gross incomes up to 130% of the federal poverty line.

This means that a family of four can make no more than $2,790 a month to receive benefits.

Able-bodied adults without dependents can only receive three months of benefits during any three-year period if they’re not working a minimum of 20 hours per week or participating in a training program.

There are several requirements you have to meet to be approved for California food stamps and EBT, however, the most important is the income limit.

As stated above, to be eligible for food stamps, your gross income cannot exceed 130% of the federal poverty line.

In addition, after deductions are taken out, your net income cannot exceed 100% of the poverty level.

2019/2020 California Food Stamps Income Limit

Below is the 2019/2020 food stamps income limit. It is based on the number of people in your household. For example, if you are a family of 4, you cannot make more than a gross income of $2,790 to qualify for food stamps.

Household Size Gross monthly income
(130 percent of poverty)
Net monthly income
(100 percent of poverty)
1 $1,354 $1,041
2 $1,832 $1,410
3 $2,311 $1,778
4 $2,790 $2,146
5 $3,269 $2,515
6 $3,748 $2,883
7 $4,227 $3,251
8 $4,705 $3,620
Each additional member +$479 +$369

How Much Will I Recieve in California Food Stamps?

The amount of food stamps benefits a household gets depends on how many people are in the household and how much monthly net income remains after taking allowable deductions.

Because food stamps households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their own resources on food, the amount of food stamps you get is calculated by multiplying your household’s net monthly income by 0.3, and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size.

 Maximum Monthly Allotment Based on Household Size
People in Household Maximum Monthly Allotment
1 $194
2 $355
3 $509
4 $646
5 $768
6 $921
7 $1,018
8 $1,164
Each additional person +$146

How to Apply for California Food Stamps

There are 3 ways you can apply for food stamps in California.

Option 1 – Apply online

You can apply online through the California getcalfresh.org account (as shown in the image below). If you have an account, you can login or create your getcalfresh.org account. Click here to be taken to the website.

Option 2 – Apply at CDSS Office Near You

You can apply in person at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) office near you. Click here to locate a CDSS office.

Option 3 – Download California Food Stamps Application

You can download an application, complete it and mail it to your county CDSS office or submit it in person.

"How to Apply for California Food Stamps"

How long to get Approved for California Food Stamps?

Once you submit a complete application, your caseworker will schedule an interview with you to review your application information and ask any questions they may have about the information you submitted.

Generally, a decision will be made on your food stamps application within 30 days of the day you submitted a COMPLETE application.

What is California EBT Card?

"Check Calfresh California EBT Card Balance"

The California EBT Card, also called the Golden State Advantage card is used to administer your monthly benefits.

If you are approved for food stamps, your monthly food stamps allocation will be given to you each month on a California EBT Card, which works like a debit card.

What can I buy with EBT in California?

You are allowed to use your food stamps benefits card to buy foods that your household will prepare to eat at home, including the following

  • breads and cereals
  • fruits and vegetables
  • meats, fish and poultry; and
  • dairy products
  • Seeds and plants to produce food for the household to eat
  • Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream
  • Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes
  • Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label
  • Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible

Now that you know what you can buy with your SNAP card, here is the list of things you CANNOT buy with the card:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, diapers, and household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods
  • Live animals

NOTE: In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.

What time are food stamps EBT deposited in California?

Generally, your EBT payment is available at midnight on your payment date.

In the state of California, Food Stamps Benefits are deposited on EBT Cards over the first 10 days of every month. When your food stamps benefit is deposited on your EBT Card depends on the last digit of your case number. Here is the schedule of payment based on the last digit of your case number:

If your Case Number ends in Benefits are deposited on the
1 1st of the month
2 2nd of the month
3 3rd of the month
4 4th of the month
5 5th of the month
6 6th of the month
7 7th of the month
8 8th of the month
9 9th of the month
0 10th of the month

How to Check California EBT Card Balance?

There are three ways to check your California EBT Card balance.

Option 1

Call 1-877-328-9677 to check the balance on your California EBT Card

Option 2

Option 3

  • You can also check the balance by locating your Last Receipt

How Do I Get a California EBT Card Replacement?

To report your card lost, stolen, damaged, or not received in the mail call the California EBT Customer Service number at – 1-877-328-9677.

If your EBT card is stolen and benefits are used these benefits cannot be replaced.

You can also call the number above for the following:

  • To report your card lost, stolen, damaged, or not received in the mail.
  • To know the date your benefits will be available in your account each month.
  • To know if your benefits have been deposited into your account and get your account balance.
  • To hear your last 10 transactions.
  • To file a claim if you question a transaction in your account.
  • If you want to select or change your PIN.
  • If your card does not work.
  • To find the nearest location where you can use your card.
  • If you have other questions about or problems with your card.

California EBT Discounts

Your California EBT Card comes with some perks, discounts, and freebies.

Sign up for Amazon Prime Discount for EBT Holders

Amazon.com has announced that beneficiaries enrolled in some government assistance programs can now get Amazon Prime subscriptions for $5.99 a month. EBT Cardholders are included in this offer.

This means that if you are currently receiving benefits on an EBT card, like Food Stamps, you can sign up for Amazon Prime discount for EBT holders. To sign up, click here to be taken to their sign-up page.

The regular Amazon Prime membership is $12.99 a month. However, if you have an EBT Card, you can get Prime Membership for $5.99. That’s over 50% off the regular price.

Home Phone and Cell Phone Services

If you are currently on Food Stamps, and your income is below a certain level, you may qualify for FREE or low-cost cell phone or home phone service for you or a member of your family through the Federal Lifeline Program, which serves nearly 13 million Americans.

This program provides discounts on cell phone service or home phone service for qualifying low-income consumers, including those on Food Stamps. Here are the companies that participate in the program in the state of California. 

There are different companies providing cell phone and home phone service. Be sure to view the “Type of Service” column to make sure you are selecting the right company.

Company Name Phone Type of Service
Consolidated Communications of California Company 844-968-7224 Home Phone
AT&T 800-288-2747 Home Phone
Blue Casa 800-360-1902 Home Phone
TDS Telecom/Hornitos Telephone Company 888-225-5837 Home Phone
TDS Telecom/Happy Valley Telephone Company 888-225-5837 Home Phone
Calaveras Telephone Company 800-253-2511 Home Phone
Frontier Communications 800-921-8101 Home Phone
Sebastian 559-846-4868 Home Phone
Sierra Telephone Company, Inc. 877-658-4611 Home Phone
Siskiyou Telephone 866-467-6001 Home Phone
TDS Telecom/Winter Haven Telephone Company 888-225-5837 Home Phone
ConnectTo communications 800-804-4603 Home Phone
Ducor Telephone Company 888-539-5234 Home Phone
CAL-ORE Telephone 800-858-2399 Home Phone
Pinnacles Telephone Co. 831-389-4500 Home Phone
Ponderosa Telephone 800-682-1878 Home Phone
Cox Communications 866-961-0027 Home Phone
Volcano Telephone Company 888-886-5226 Home Phone
Life Wireless 888-543-3620 Mobile
Truconnect 800-430-0443 Mobile
Safelink Wireless 800-723-3546 Mobile
Air Voice Wireless 888-944-2355 Mobile
Access Wireless 866-594-3644 Mobile
StandUP Wireless 800-544-4441 Mobile
Assurance Wireless 888-898-4888 Mobile
Boomerang Wireless LLC 866-488-8719 Mobile
Safetynet Wireless 888-224-3213 Mobile

Free things to do with EBT Card in California

The California Museums listed below all offer individual admission fees ranging from FREE to $3.00 to individuals and families who have an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, and a valid form of photo ID. The offer covers up to four individuals per EBT card

We advise that you call the museum first before you go to confirm their hours and the offer for California EBT Cardholders. 

ImagineU Children’s Museum

210 N. Tipton
Visalia, California 93277
559-733-5975
Website
Directions

The Children’s Museum at the Paso Robles Volunteer Firehouse

623 13th Street
Paso Robles, California 93446
805-238-7432
Website
Directions

Monterey County Youth Museum (MY Museum)

425 Washington Street
Monterey, California 93940
831-649-6444
Website
Directions

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose


180 Woz Way
San Jose, California 95110
408-298-5437
Website
Directions

San Jose Museum of Art

 

110 South Market St. 

California 95113

408-271-6840

Website

Directions

San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

1010 Nipomo St. 

San Luis Obispo, California 93401

805-544-5437

Website

Directions

 

CuriOdyssey

1651 Coyote Point Drive 

San Mateo, California 94401

(650) 342-7755

Website

Directions

Chabot Space & Science Center

10000 Skyline Blvd. 

Oakland, California 94619

510-336-7300

Website

Directions

Bakersfield Museum of Art

1930 R Street 

Bakersfield, California 93301

661-323-7219

Website

Directions

Oakland Museum of California

1000 Oak St. 

Oakland, California 94607

510-318-8400

Website

Directions

Lawrence Hall of Science

1 Centennial Drive 

Berkeley, California 94720

510-642-5132

Website

Directions

Habitot Children’s Museum

2065 Kittredge Street 

Berkeley, California 94704

510-647-1111

Website

Directions

Museum of Craft and Design

2569 Third Street 

San Francisco, California 94107

415-773-0303

Website

Directions

Children’s Creativity Museum

221 Fourth St. 

San Francisco, California 94103

415-820-3320

Website

Directions

Exploratorium

Pier 15 

San Francisco, California 94111

415-528-4444

Website

Directions

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Drive 

San Francisco, California 94118

415-379-8000

Website

Directions

Richmond Museum of History

400 Nevin Avenue 

Richmond, California 94802

510-235-7387

Website

Directions

Bay Area Discovery Museum

557 McReynolds Rd, Fort Baker 

Sausalito, California 94965

415-339-3900

Website

Directions

Vacaville’s Imagine That!

848-B Alamo Dr. 

Vacaville, California 95688

707-474-5317

Website

Directions

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

1835 West Steele Lane 

Santa Rosa, California 95403

707-546-4069

Website

Directions

The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

5250 Aero Dr. 

Santa Rosa, California 95403

707-579-3004

Website

Directions

Zimmer Children’s Museum by ShareWell

6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100 

Los Angeles, California 90048 United States

(323) 761-8984

Website

Directions

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

5801 Wilshire Boulevard 

Los Angeles, California 90036

213-763-3499

Website

Directions

Kidspace Children’s Museum

480 N. Arroyo Blvd. 

Pasadena, California 91103

626-449-9144

Website

Directions

Southern California Children’s Museum

459 East Colorado Boulevard 

Pasadena, California 91101

626-657-0357

Website

Directions

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Boulevard 

Los Angeles, California 90007

213-763-3466

Website

Directions

Victor Valley Museum

11873 Apple Valley Road 

Apple Valley, California 92308

760-240-2111

Website

Directions

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

7621 Granite Hill Drive 

Jurupa Valley, California 92509

951-685-5818

Website

Directions

Riverside Art Museum

3425 Mission Inn Ave. 

Riverside, California 92501

951-684-7111

Website

Directions

San Bernardino County Museum

2024 Orange Tree Lane 

Redlands, California 92374

909-798-8608

Website

Directions

Pretend City Children’s Museum

29 Hubble 

Irvine, California 92618

949-428-3900

Website

Directions

Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

71-701 Gerald Ford Dr. 

Rancho Mirage, California 97720

760-321-0602

Website

Directions

Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Dr. 

Carlsbad, California 92008

760-438-5996

Website

Directions

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

47900 Portola Ave. 

Palm Desert, California 92260

760-346-5694

Website

Directions

California Center for the Arts, Escondido

340 N. Escondido Blvd. 

Escondido, California 92025

760-839-4138

Website

Directions

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

320 North Broadway 

Escondido, California 92025

760-233-7755

Website

Directions

San Diego Archaeological Center

16666 San Pasqual Valley Rd 

Escondido, California 92027

760-291-0370

Website

Directions

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

2300 Expedition Way 

La Jolla, California 92037 United States

(858) 534 3474

Website

Directions

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

700 Prospect St. 

San Diego, California 92037

858-454-3541

Website

Directions

San Diego Art Institute

1439 El Prado, Balboa Park 

San Diego, California 92101

619-236-0011

Website

Directions

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

1788 El Prado, Balboa Park 

San Diego, California 92101

619-232-3821

Website

Directions

San Diego History Center

1649 El Prado Suite #3 

San Diego, California 92101

619-232-6203

Website

Directions

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown

1100 Kettner Blvd 

San Diego, California 92101

858-454-3541

Website

Directions

The New Children’s Museum

200 West Island Ave 

San Diego, California 92101

619-233-8792

Website

Directions

Sequoia Park Zoo

3414 W Street 

Eureka, California 95503

707-441-4263

Website

Directions

Morris Graves Museum of Art

636 F St. 

Eureka, California 95501

707-442-0278

Website

Directions

Clarke Historical Museum

240 E Street 

Eureka, California 95501

707-443-1947

Website

Directions

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