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CalFresh (formerly known as Food Stamps) is a nutrition program that helps students and their families buy healthy foods.

How Does CalFresh Work?

CalFresh benefits are issued on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card and can be used at most grocery stores and many farmers markets to buy food. You can even use CalFresh to purchase food online through sites like Amazon and Walmart.

If you are on a limited income and are struggling to buy the healthy foods that you need, then CalFresh may be able to help! Plus, CalFresh benefits do not impact your financial aid, and you do not need your parents' tax return information to apply.


You may be eligible for CalFresh if you meet all of the requirements in Part 1 and at least one of the requirements in Part 2.

Requirements Part 1

You must meet all of the following criteria.
  1. You are 18 to 49 years old. If you are under age 22 and live with your parent/guardian, then your parent/guardian must apply for CalFresh benefits.
  2. You are enrolled in at least six units.
  3. You have at least one US Citizen, permanent resident, asylee, refugee, humanitarian parolee, or SIV living in your household.
  4. You are physically and mentally fit to work
  5. Your household's monthly gross income falls within the limits in Table 1. Note that you will also need to meet certain net income requirements based on certain household expenses.
Table 1. Household Income
Effective October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023.
Household Size Gross Monthly Income
1 $2,226
2 $3,052
3 $3,840
4 $4,626
5 $5,412
6 $6,200
7 $6,986
8 $7,772
Add $788 for each additional family member.

Requirements Part 2

You must meet one of the following criteria.


  • Work at least 20 hours per week or an average of 80 hours a month
  • Are eligible for federal or state work-study programs
  • Are attending or participating in an approved on-the-job training program
  • Are receiving CalWORKS benefits
  • Are approved for TANF-funded Cal Grant A or B
  • Are a full-time student and have a dependent child under the age of 12
  • Are a part-time student and have a dependent child under the age of 6
  • Are a part-time student and have a dependent child between the ages of 6 and 12 where adequate child care is not available
  • Have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and your Student Aid Report indicated an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0
  • Enrolled in a Local Program that Increases Employability (LPIE)

Note for DACA and Undocumented Students

Current CalFresh regulations prohibit DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and undocumented students from qualifying. However, there are college and community food resources available for DACA and undocumented students.

How to Apply for CalFresh

Here is what the application process looks like:

  1. Submit Application

    Complete an application with the Department of Human Assistance in your county. The online application process takes only 10 minutes.
  2. Submit Proof of Situation

    Submit proof of your current situation, which includes documents like your ID, paystubs, or rent receipts. You can do this during your application or return to the application website within 30 days of submitting your application.
  3. Prepare for Possible Follow-Up Questions

    If the county has any questions, then they will call you for more information or clarification.
  4. Get Money for Groceries

    If approved, then you will get an EBT card with money for groceries within 30 days.

Apply for CalFresh


To learn more about the CalFresh program and/or other food resources that are available to you, connect with our colleges and/or our community partners.

CalFresh Video Workshops

We have partnered with Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS) to provide the following presentations about the benefits of CalFresh, how to apply, and other helpful information.

CalFresh Presentation in English

CalFresh Presentation in Spanish

CalFresh Presentation in Hmong

CalFresh Presentation in Farsi

College Resources

Community Partners