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What is Calfresh?

CalFresh is a federally funded food nutrition assistance program. Those who are eligible can receive up to $204 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 refugee status, asylum, or parolee status
    • has or is applying for a U or T Visa
    • Have Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
    • Is a Cuban or Haitian entrant
    • Is a survivor of human trafficking
    • Is an applicant for VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) relief
  • 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 (2,128/month pre-taxes for a single household - please note this is higher for students with dependents and larger households)
  • 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.  It is fine if a lot of these are not applicable, you only need one to qualify!,
    • Your FAFSA's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is $0
    • You are eligible for Work Study
    • Be receiving Cal Grant A or B and have received a letter from the California Student Aid Commission noting potential CalFresh eligibility (this exemption is not available in summer)
    • Working and getting paid for 20 hours or more per week (or an average of 80 hours per month)
    •  Be enrolled in a program that increases employability (EOP, UC McNair Program, MESA Program, the Technology Management Program, Bren's MESM program, PhD in Materials, or Girvetz Teacher Education Program or PhD in Education).
    •  Be enrolled in a program that increases employability for current and former foster youth (AB12, Guardian Scholars)
    •  Exerting parental control over a dependent household member under the age of 6 OR between the age of 6 and 12 with no adequate childcare (as determined by the county) OR be a single parent of a dependent household member under the age of 12
    • Participating in the CalFresh Employment and Training Program (CFET) or Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) or be a recipient of CalWORKs or Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
    • Does not plan to register for the next school term and taking less than 6 units (if this is the case, you will have to apply as a non-student and other criteria will apply).

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 $10! Meaning that if you spend $10 at the farmers market, they will give you an extra $10 to spend on fresh, local produce.

How do I apply for CalFresh?

Visit a CalFresh and Food Security 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 
    • Proof of CARE Program (contact your advocate or call 1-(805) 893 4613)
    • Proof of UC Mcnair Program (letter of acceptance or call 1-(805) 893 3615)
    • Proof of MESA Program 
    • Proof of Guardians Scholar Program (Call 1-(805) 893 3873 or email stephany.rubio@sa.ucsb.edu or lisa.przekop@sa.ucsb.edu for proof)
    • Proof of AB12 Former Foster Youth Program (Call 1-(805) 893 3873 or email stephany.rubio@sa.ucsb.edu or lisa.przekop@sa.ucsb.edu for proof)
    • Proof of Puente Program
    • Working a minimum of 20 hr/per week (check stubs or letter from employer)
    • Proof of EOP (screenshot must include name and quarter, see example below)
    • Proof of Girvetz Teacher Education Program (TEP). Email Samantha Cole at samanthacole@ucsb.edu for proof of program

    EOP example screenshot

Visit us!

For your convenience, you can visit a Food Security and CalFresh advocate Monday through Friday at the UCSB Food Security and Basic Needs Advising Center at the UCen (also called the SNAC), 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.

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 (2,082/ 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 (also called the SNAC), 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.