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What is CalFresh?

CalFresh is a federally funded food nutrition assistance program. Those who are eligible can receive up to $281 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). *        
  • 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)

CalFresh Approved Program List for Website

* 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. 

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-outreachHowever, 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 Juice or our El Centro Office Room 115, hours for both location can be found here. 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.

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) or our El Centro Location Room 115. Click here to find our working hours for these locations. 

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.

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

Email: thrive@ucsb.edu

thrive-logo1 (1)

Click Images Below For Interactive Map


El Centro

CalFresh FAQs

  • I missed my interview. What should I do?

  • How do I keep my benefits?

  • What is my household size?

  • How do I upload my documents?

  • What if my parents receive CalFresh?

  • What if my address/ income changes?

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

  • What if I graduate?

  • What if I am not eligible for CalFresh?

  • Want to host an enrollment party?