Health

9 Ways You Can Apply for CalFresh

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The days of a mother or father having to take a whole day off work and drag their kids to sit in a government office waiting for hours to get food assistance are long gone – much like the days when food stamps came in a book of coupons.

Nowadays, someone applying for CalFresh benefits can do it from pretty much anywhere, at any time of the day.

It’s all part of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency’s efforts to expand ways eligible residents can apply for and access assistance.

CalFresh helps families and individuals who meet certain income guidelines supplement their food budget and buy nutritious food. Eligibility and the amount of CalFresh benefits issued depend on your household size, income and certain living expenses.

There are nine different ways a person can apply or find out if they are eligible for benefits:

  1. 2-1-1 San Diego

One of the most convenient ways is to call 2-1-1 San Diego.

The over-the-phone system allows you to complete the entire CalFresh application with a live 2-1-1 staff person. 2-1-1 submits it to the County electronically on your behalf. They also will help guide you through the process of sending in your necessary paperwork so you don’t have to go into an office at all.

According to 2-1-1, the phone process is especially beneficial to people who are older adults, disabled, homebound, lack transportation, parents with childcare issues or people who can’t go into a County office during business hours because they’re working.

You can make an appointment to fill out the CalFresh application with 2-1-1 online.

  1. MyBenefitsCalWIN.org

A person can also go online to MyBenefitsCalWIN.org to learn about the program and apply for benefits.  Applicants can also check their case status, benefit amounts, EBT card balances and transactions and submit reports. In addition, they can apply for other assistance programs such as Medi-Cal and CalWORKs at the same time.

The website is available in 18 different languages.

  1. GetCalFresh.org

GetCalFresh.org is a mobile-optimized site that can be accessed from any device or computer with an internet connection. Applications are completed in an average of eight minutes and an applicant can even take photos and submit required documents right from their phone and not have to mail anything in.

Residents can also get support to navigate the enrollment process via text messages, email or live chat.

The site is also available in Spanish.

  1. Download an Application

CalFresh applicants can download an application form online, fill it out at their convenience and then return the completed application in person at their local Family Resource Center, via U.S. mail or by fax.

After you download the application:

  • Complete as much of your application as you can. Your name, address and signature are necessary to begin the application process.
  • Send the completed application and documents to your local Family Resource Center via U.S. mail, fax them to (619) 236-9167, or drop them off at your local Family Resource Center
  1. Call the Access line at (866) 262-9881

Residents can call Access and they can mail an application to you. Send the completed application to your local Family Resource Center via U.S. mail or drop it off in person.

  1. Through Community Partners

Several community partners help people sign up for CalFresh benefits when they are at events in the community or through regular outreach efforts. Two of those partners are Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank.

Both organizations also have applications and information on their websites in both English and Spanish.

  1. At Community Events

HHSA staff are out in the community at various community events or farmers markets throughout the year with education and information about the CalFresh program and to screen people to see if they qualify for assistance or can help with the application process.

  1. Satellite Locations on Select College Campuses

A five-year pilot project between HHSA and San Diego Continuing Education will give their students access to public assistance services including CalFresh at SDCE campuses.

HHSA staff will be at three SDCE campuses (the Education Cultural Complex, César E. Chávez Campus and Mid-City Campus) every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon for walk-in appointments.

Students will be able to receive immediate eligibility determination and referrals to resources.

  1. County Family Resource Centers

If they choose, a person can still come in person to one of the County’s eleven Family Resource Centers and get assistance in person.

Staff are available to explain the eligibility requirements and help you fill out an application.

To complete the process, you will need to provide all verifications/documents for everyone applying for benefits. It is very important to make available all verifications to be evaluated for eligibility promptly.

Assistance is available in any language at any time by staff or via an interpreter service.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact