Home / Food Resources / Calfresh



What is Calfresh?

CalFresh is a federally funded food nutrition assistance program. Those who are eligible can receive up to $250 per month for groceries! After you apply, you will receive a plastic electronic benefits card that is reloaded each month.

Am I eligible for CalFresh? 

To be eligible for CalFresh you must be:

  • 18 years or older
  • A U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or at least one of the following is true
    • Has US Citizenship
    • Is a lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or applying for a renewal for an LPR, including Amerasian immigrants (sponsorship could limit eligibility, see below section on “Financial
    • Sponsorship of Immigrants Pursuing Lawful Permanent Resident Cards”); 
    • Has refugee status
    • Has asylee status
    • Has an active or pending U or T Visa
    • Is an applicant for VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Relief
    • Has Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)- would need to have their case reviewed for any documentation and see the status of their application for LPR.
    • Deportation withheld in certain circumstances 
    • Is a Cuban/Haitian entrant as defined in 501(e)
    • Is an adult or minor who is a survivor of a severe form of human trafficking, or their spouse/parents/children
    • Certain spouses and children who are survivors of interpersonal violence
    • Is an Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant on certain Visa types 
    • Be a veteran of the United States military, or a member of the United States military, or a spouse or child of a person in the military or a veteran; 
    • Be a member of a Hmong or Laotian tribe that fought with the United States military during the Vietnam War, who is lawfully residing in the United States; 
      On August 22, 1996, have been 65 years or older and lawfully residing in the United States (i.e., born before August 22, 1931);
    • Be an American Indian with certain rights to cross the border between the United States and Canada or Mexico limited to certain Visa Codes; 
    • Be a non-citizen national (born in American Samoa or Swain’s Island)
  • Not be receiving 11 or more meals from another source (such as a co-op, sorority/fraternity house, or meal plan) 
  • Not exceed the income threshold (please contact us to learn more about the income thresholds).  
    • We prefer to help students determine if they meet the income requirements through a conversation as the income requirements are complicated, many forms of income are exempt (for example income from work study jobs does not count as income making it easier for students with work study jobs to be eligible), and there are lots of ways to reduce your eligible income (for example there is a reduction for utilities you pay, some childcare expenses, etc.) Lastly, many forms of fellowships and aid set aside for educational expenses do not count as income (for graduate students this means any portion of fellowships or other funding you receive that goes to tuition and fees, GSHIP (or for undergrads USHIP), etc. does not count as income. 
  • If you are a student (enrolled in more than 6 units and between the ages of 18-49) you must ALSO meet at least one of the following or be enrolled in one of the UCSB specific programs listed below.  It is fine if a lot of these are not applicable, you only need one to qualify!,
    • Works over 20 hours a week in paid work (or 80 hours in a month)
    • Can provide a doctor's note stating that you cannot work 20hrs or more per week
    • Eligible for Work Study
    • Receives Cal Grant A or B
    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is $0 on your financial aid award letter
    • Has a dependent under 12 years old
    • Do not plan to be enrolled next term (and currently under full-time status as a student)
    • Enrolled in at least one of the Local Program that Increase Employability (LPIE)
      • Actuarial Science BS/MS
      • Art MFA
      • Joint MA/Teacher Education Program (TEP): Chemistry MA
      • Chemistry MA
      • Chemistry MS
      • Chemistry PhD
      • Chemical Engineering PhD
      • Chicana and Chicano Studies PhD
      • Comparative Literature MA Program
      • Comparative Literature PhD Program
      • Computer Science PhD
      • Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology MA
      • Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology PhD
      • English for MultiLingual Programs 
      • English MA
      • English PhD
      • Environmental Data Science: Masters of Environmental Data Science (MEDS)
      • Environmental Science & Management MA
      • Feminist Studies MA
      • Feminist Studies PhD 
      • Film and Media Studies MA
      • Film and Media Studies PhD
      • French MA 
      • French PhD  
      • Geography PhD 
      • Geography, Joint Program SDSU PhD
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) Dept of Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology (CCSP)  PhD 
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education: Teaching in Education Program(TEP) Masters of Education (M.Ed)
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education: Education PhD
      • Global Studies MA
      • Global Studies PhD
      • History of Art & Architecture MA
      • History of Art & Architecture PhD
      • History PhD 
      • History, Joint Program CSUS PhD
      • Internship Scholarship Program 
      • Materials of Engineering Program PhD
      • Military Science (ROTC) 
      • Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology PhD
      • The Noyce CTPSE Program
      • PILLARS of Teaching Assistantship
      • Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice Minor
      • Physics PhD
      • Political Science MA
      • Political Science PhD
      • Religious Studies PhD
      • Sociology PhD
      • Spanish MA
      • The Summer Teaching Institute for Associates (STIA) program
      • Technology Management MA
      • Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, MA
      • Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, PhD
      • Workplace Recruitment Program, Career Services 
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Teaching in Education Program: Single Subject Teaching Credential (SST)
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Teaching in Education Program: Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (MST)
      • Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Teaching in Education Program: Education Specialist Instruction Credential (ESC)
      • Counseling Clinical Psychology PhD
      • School Psychology PhD
      • School Psychology Master's of Education
      • Computer Science MS
      • Technology Management Program Undergraduate Certificate

Where can I spend my CalFresh benefits?

CalFresh benefits (also known as SNAP or EBT) can be spent on any cold food item at participating grocery stores. You can use your card in all 50 states and U.S. territories, not just Santa Barbara!
In the area you can spend your benefits at:

• The Arbor       • Tenaya Market
Sprouts           • Farmers Markets*
• 7-Eleven         • Isla Vista Food Cooperative
• Trader Joe's   • CostCo
• Albertsons      • Smart & Final
• Target             • and more! (for a full list of stores that accept CalFresh, please click here)

*  At the farmer’s markets in Goleta and Santa Barbara, Market Match will match your CalFresh up to $15! Meaning that if you spend $15 at the farmers market, they will give you an extra $15 to spend on fresh, local produce.

How do I apply for CalFresh?

Visit a CalFresh Advocate at our outreach locations (listed below), any day of the week! Our experienced advocates will walk you through the application, help you upload the necessary documents, and advocate on your behalf throughout the process. The application takes around 30-75 minutes and you should receive your benefits within 30 days. 

If you wish, you may apply on your own by going to https://www.getcalfresh.org/?source=ucsb-outreach However, we highly recommend applying with an experienced advocate. We are here to make the application easier, help interact with the Department of Social Services, keep your benefits, and connect you to other resources! Also, students who apply with an advocate have a 20% higher acceptance rate compared to those who apply on their own. 

Please bring with you:
1. A laptop and/or a smartphone with a working camera
2. Relevant documents from the list below (note: these can be physical copies, screenshots, or downloaded PDFs). If you are missing one of these documents, we can give you instructions on how to upload missing documentation at a later date and alternate documentation that you can use instead of the below.)

  • Identification: Birth Certificate, Driver License, CA ID, or U.S. Passport
  • Social Security Number: Social Security Card (If you know your number, you can apply without the card!)
  • Immigration status: Permanent Resident Card (only required for non-citizens)
  • Earned Income: Dated check stubs for the last 30 days, statement of earnings from employer (if you are a UC employee, statements can be found here or here)
  • Housing: Mortgage or rent receipt, first page of your lease agreement, or statement from your landlord/subletter (if you live in UCSB housing, click here)
  • Utilities or Other Bills: gas, electricity, water, or telephone (1-2 recommended)
  • College Students: Financial Aid Award Letter and Proof of Units > print with name
  • Proof of any Program if Eligible (The department of social services just changed their requirements and no longer requires proof of the following in most cases.  This is a new change though, so in the short term you might still be asked):
    • Proof of Cal Grant A or B 
    • Proof of Work Study 
    • Working a minimum of 20 hr/per week (check stubs or letter from employer)
    • Proof of Local Programs that Increase Employability (LPIE)

Visit us!

For your convenience, you can visit a Calfresh Advocate and Basic Needs Peer Advisor Monday through Friday at the UCSB Food Security and Basic Needs Advising Center located inside the UCen/next to Jamba Jucie, hours are available here: https://food.ucsb.edu/resources/basic-needs-advocates  You can also chat with us using the chat function in the lower right hand corner of the screen or book a virtual appointment with us using the Book an Appointment image half way down the homepage: https://food.ucsb.edu/

Want to host an enrollment party?

Email Thrive@gmail.com to schedule an enrollment party for your club, organization, fraternity, sorority, residence hall, or other student group! A team of advocates will come to you and walk you through the application process together. We offer these in person and virtually.

I missed my interview. What should I do?

Please call the Department of Social Services at 1-805-681-4401 to reschedule your interview. Keep in mind that you have 30 days from the date of your application to schedule your interview before you will have to reapply. 

How do I keep my benefits?

It is very important that you update the Benefits Service Center (1-844-289-4682) with any changes to your situation (new address, change in income, change in household size). 6 months after you apply, you will receive the Semi-Annual Report (SAR-7) in the mail. This must be submitted in order for you to keep your benefits! 1 year after you apply, you must submit the recertification form.

If you receive either the SAR-7 or Recertification Report in the mail, please visit a CalFresh advocate at our outreach hours and they can easily assist you in accurately filling out and submitting the form. You also can can submit your SAR 7 report on line at https://www.getcalfresh.org/sar7

What is my household size?

For CalFresh, a household is a group of people who purchase and prepare food together.
Most students will apply as single households, even if you have roommates.
Unless you regularly purchase and prepare food with another person or live with other mandatory household members then you should mark one (1)

Household Income Thresholds below:
- $2,128 for a single household
- $2,874 for a two-person household
- $3,556 for a three-person household
- $4,292 for a four-person household
- $5,030 for a five-person household
- $5,766 for a six-person household
- $6,502 for a seven-person household
- $7,240 for an eight-person household
     + $738 for each additional member

How do I upload my documents?

Please go to getcalfresh.org/en/docs to upload your documents. We strongly recommend calling the Benefits Service Center at 1-844-289-4682 after to let them know that you have uploaded your necessary documents.

What if my parents receive CalFresh?

If you are registered under your parents CalFresh benefits, they will need to call the Department of Social Services in their county and ask to have you removed from their account. After they do that, you can start your own application in Santa Barbara county. 

What if my address/ income changes?

If something about your situation changes, please promptly alert the Benefits Service Center by uploading your two most recent paystubs and/or new lease agreement to https://www.getcalfresh.org/docs. After you have done that, please call the Benefits Service Center at 1-844-289-4682 to let them know. 

I lost my card. How can I get a new one?

Please call the Benefits Service Center at 1-844-289-4682 and they will mail you a new card.

What if I graduate?

You can still be eligible for CalFresh after you graduate! CalFresh is a national, federal program that is available to eligible residents of all ages. If you are no longer a student, you should still be eligible as long as you are not exceeding the income threshold ($2,128/ month pre-taxes for a single household).

What if I am not eligible for CalFresh?

There are many other food resources available to students and community members! For more information about food banks, cooking classes, free meals, and other food resources, click here, or come talk to a Food Security and CalFresh advocate! Our trained advocates will be able to connect you to the resources you need.

Contact Us

In person: visit a Food Security and CalFresh advocate Monday through Friday at the UCSB Food Security and Basic Needs Advising Center at the UCen (next to Jamba Juice), hours are available here: https://food.ucsb.edu/resources/basic-needs-advocates 

Virtually: You can also chat with us using the chat function in the lower right hand corner of the screen or book a virtual appointment with us using the Book an Appointment image half way down the homepage: https://food.ucsb.edu/

Phone: Please call us at 1-805-893-2786

Email: thrive@ucsb.edu

Take our SNAC evaluation!

How was your experience with THRIVE: Basic Needs & CalFresh Advocates? Your feedback is important to us so we can continue to improve! You can remain anonymous: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdsMDFnCctQ0K4WBabJE8DQexSgYJahDO3h91hh0bepbVIHYg/viewform?embedded=true
Virtual CalFresh Enrollment Parties
CalFresh has incorporated enrollment parties where our Advocates organize a virtual Calfresh Enrollment Party specifically for your org. As a reminder, CalFresh is a federally funded nutrition program that provides up to $204 per month towards groceries. Just let us know a few dates/times that work for you and we can coordinate the rest! See this video for more information! Email thrive@ucsb.edu to get started.