COVID-19 CalFresh Resources
- In April 2020, CalFresh recipients will receive an Emergency Allotment (EA) on their CalFresh EBT cards. This benefit was authorized by House Resolution 620, in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- There will be two Emergency Allotments issued: one on April 12 (for any household that received CalFresh in March) and one on May 10 (for any household that received CalFresh in April). Only households receiving less than the maximum benefit for their household size will get the bump up to the maximum benefit amount. Important additional details on our COVID-19 CalFresh page.
- California Food Policy Advocates provides additional detail on the Emergency Allotment for CalFresh Recipients.
Online Purchasing with CalFresh EBT card:
- Starting on April 28, 2020, CalFresh households can use their EBT cards to purchase food online through Amazon and Walmart only. Important additional details on our COVID-19 CalFresh page.
- View the California Dept. of Social Services (CDSS) Executive Summary on this topic.
CalFresh Reporting Deadlines & Flexibility
- Some CalFresh participants can continue receiving SNAP benefits for longer: Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on March 17 waiving all redetermination requirements for CalFresh benefits (and Medi-Cal and CalWORKS) for 90 days. On March 23, USDA approved the state’s request to waive periodic reports for CalFresh. Now, CalFresh clients who have recertifications or SAR-7s due before June do NOT need to complete them now and will NOT lose their benefits.
ABAWD on hold:
- Childless adults (or, ABAWDs) who were subject to CalFresh time-limits will no longer be subject to time limits and related work provisions: USDA has temporarily suspended SNAP’s three-month time limit on benefits for adults under age 50 without children in their home, effective April 1.
- Visit California Food Policy Advocates' COVID-19 Response: Nutrition Program Flexibilities Tracker and their COVID-19 Featured Updates
- More changes are in the works, in response to COVID-19, and we'll post those as they are implemented.
- Visit our special info page with Q&A on Economic Stimulus Checks and how to receive one
"All in one sheet" CalFresh information flyer (in English & Spanish)
Created by Food for People, this one-pager gives a brief introduction to CalFresh, includes a basic pre-screen with income eligibiligy guidelines, lists documents a household may need to be prepared to provide to the county, gives a brief overview of what to expect in the application and eligibility process, has information on how and where to apply and how to reach the county DHHS office, and much more. It is available in both English and Spanish.
Income Guidelines Changed as of October 1, 2019
The Federal Fiscal Year begins October 1, which usually means CalFresh/SNAP income guidelines and maximum benefit amounts increase for a Cost of Living Adustment (COLA). Please visit Food for People's CalFresh page for full income guidelines.
Replacement Benefits due to October 2019 power outages
CalFresh households that lost food purchased with CalFresh, due to power shutoffs, are eligible for replacement benefits.
There was a mass replacement of CalFresh benefits for some (but not all) Humboldt County households on Wednesday night Oct 23, 2019, due to the October 8, 2019 power shutoff. Many CalFresh households lost food purchased with CalFresh due to the October 26, 2019 power shutoff too.
Read our full article at this link for more information on how the following:
- Who was included in the Oct 23 mass benefit replacement and who was not
- What to do if you were not included in it
- What to do if you lost more than 60% of food purchased with October CalFresh benefits
- Download and complete the CF303 replacement form --check the due dates for each separate power shutoff at the link!
- What happens when there are multiple replacements needed in one month due to multiple power shutoffs
Click here for an updated flyer to post to share the basic information about the November 8th deadline.
Click here for an informative fact sheet with more information about power outages and CalFresh disaster response.
CalFresh Expansion to SSI Households
Starting June 1, 2019, anyone that receives SSI may receive CalFresh benefits. Humboldt County DHHS will begin accepting early applications beginning May 1, 2019 (for benefits that can begin in June 2019). SSI and SSP benefits will not change. There are close to 6,000 SSI recipients in Humboldt County. Humboldt County DHHS created the following materials to help CalFresh partners understand more of the details on how CalFresh expansion impacts Humboldt County residents:
- Info sheet on CalFresh expansion to SSI households, with details on how SSI income will be counted, allowable medical deductions, and changes for households adding a household member who receives SSI.
- Info sheet on Supplemental Nutritional Benefit (SNB) and Transitional Nutritional Benefit (TNB), which are intended to help CalFresh cases that now include newly eligible SSI/SSP recipients who were previously ineligible. These two benefits are granted for households whose CalFresh benefits decrease when an SSI recipient is added to the household and for households that lose CalFresh eligibility once the SSI income starts being used in the CalFresh eligibility budget.
- PowerPoint presentation on CalFresh expansion to SSI households, presented by Humboldt County DHHS
For more information, visit Western Center on Law & Poverty, or ca4ssi, or California Assocation of Food Banks (CAFB). CAFB put together this overview of special CalFresh rules that apply to seniors and people with disabilities who are SSI recipients and newly eligible for CalFresh. Its intended audience is providers and application assistors who may want a refresher on what specific CalFresh rules might apply to SSI recipients. This information may help make the application process easier and/or help maximize the CalFresh benefit amount.
Here is a sample outreach flyer for clients in English and Spanish. California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has made a toolkit accessible with customizable materials (flyer, poster, brochures, fact sheet). In addition, CDSS recorded a policy webinar series that gets into more detail on how CalFresh policies affect people with SSI, which you can view here. Here's a quick overview of the statewide impact CDSS is expecting due to the expansion:
- 369,000 new SSI-only households to join the caseload over a 15-month period
- 44,800 households will see an increase in benefits
- 73,200 households will see a decrease in benefits
- 7,100 households will lose eligibility
- The households who will experience a decrease or loss of benefits will be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Benefit or Transitional Nutrition Benefit
f you've been using or promoting getcalfresh.org to help households apply for CalFresh, Code for America (the creators of getcalfresh.org) created an SSI-specific landing page: ssi.getcalfresh.org.
Public Charge information for non-citizens
STATUS UPDATE January 28, 2020:
On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the national injunction that prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing the public charge rule expansion for:
- persons who are seeking a visa for admission into the United States,
- applying for legal permanent residency (LPR, also knowns as “Green Card”),
- or legal permanent residents who have traveled outside the United States for 180+ days.
The legal battles are still underway, and there is still hope the rule expansion will be shut down, but in the meantime DHS can impose the changes.
It is critical to note that even under the new rule:
- Benefits used by family members will not count in public charge decisions made in the U.S.
- Parents of U.S. citizens can apply for public benefits for their eligible children.
- There is NO public charge test to renew a green card. (But if taking a trip outside the U.S. that lasts longer than 180 days, a person could be subject to public charge when coming back into the country.)
- There is NO public charge test when a green card holder applies for naturalization (to become a U.S. citizen).
These resources are recommended for persons who would like to know if they are impacted and how to proceed:
- Screening Web tool: KeepyourbenefitsCA.org / tusbeneficiospublicos.org - will help you determine whether or not you are subject to public charge.
- Screening Text tool: 650-376-8006. Text “benefits” (for English) , “libre” (for Spanish), “福利” (Chinese) or “lợiích” (Vietnamese) - will help you determine whether or not you are subject to public charge
- One CA Public Charge provider list - directory of immigration legal services providers that have training in dealing with public charge.
Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, history, who it applies to, and many additional resource links.
SNAP / CalFresh ABAWD Time Limit
In December 2019, the federal government published a final rule enacting significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or CalFresh in California). The rule is scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2020.
Starting on April 1, 2020, SNAP/CalFresh recipients who fall under the following criteria:
- between the ages of 18 and 49, and
- who do not reside with a child uner age 18, and
- who do not have a documented disability, and
- who do not satisfy the 20 hours-per-week work requirement
...are considered "Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents" (ABAWDs) and may be subject to a 3-month time limit on receiving SNAP/CalFresh during a 36-month time period.
The ABAWD Time Limit makes it more difficult to find work--not less. The time limit denies food aid to:
- people who cannot prove that they have worked the requisite number of hours per week
- individuals with undiagnosed impairments or disabilities
- individuals without impairments or disabilities who are actively looking for work but unable to find an employer who will hire them or a job
- individuals whose employers do not give them enough hours to comply with the 20-hour per week requirement
As a result, many individuals will be denied food help and go hungry, making it more difficult to find work, not less. When enacted, this rule will impact basic food assistance for an estimated 700,000 people that are struggling to find work. This is a cut of historic proportions. The rule will require almost every California county to enforce the harsh time limit on providing nutrition assistance for adults who are working less than 20 hours each week, no matter how hard they are looking for a job, have irregular schedules, or are employed more than 20 hours a week but unable to document their hours. The federal rule also restricts the state's ability to utilize individual exceptions to provide food assistance to those with the greatest barriers to work.
On January 16, 2020, two separate law suits were filed against the rule and to seek a national injunction. The Attorney General of Washington, D.C. and 13 other states, including California, and New York City filed one case. The Legal Aid of D.C. filed a separate case. These cases have now been joined and they will have a hearing on March 5th, 2020. More news will be available after that.
Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic and its impact on hunger.
Ordering Outreach materials, brochures and other goodies
Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services has a variety of helpful brochures, posters, table displays, and promotional materials (like pens and bags) about CalFresh, applying online, applying for health coverage and other programs available to order for free. In addition there are some items available to borrow for outreach events, such as banners, table covers and tents with the CalFresh logo. Click here to view/download the most recent order form.
Map of CalFresh Application Assistance sites in Humboldt County
Have you ever wondered which sites and organizations provide CalFresh application assistance in Humboldt County? This fabulous new map shows the closest site to you or someone you're assisting, along with a list of contact info and dates/times assistance is available at each site. Click here or on the map to view/download.
Humboldt County DHHS contact information
Download this full page flyer that includes the local Humboldt County DHHS Service Center phone number, a list of services available through it, and the new call center hours, which are Monday through Friday 7:30am to 5:30 pm, including lunch hour. Please use this phone number (1-877-410-8809) when communicating the local DHHS phone number to clients. Click here to download the updated flyer in English and Spanish. Also, if interested in it as a poster to display, click here to dowload it as an 11x17 poster in English and Spanish.
DHHS Mobile Outreach Vehicle schedule
The schedule can be downloaded from our Mobile Produce Pantry webpage. The Mobile Outreach Vehicle (MOV) provides an array of County services, including help applying for County programs such as CalFresh. The MOV travels to communities in various parts of Humboldt County to bring services closer to home. Food for People's Mobile Produce Pantry travels alongside the MOV, though the two sometimes have slightly differing schedules and sites. Please visit the Mobile Produce Pantry webpage for more information.
The following links are also very useful
- The Calfornia Guide to Food Benefits is a thorough resource on some of the technical aspects of understanding CalFresh eligibility, regulations and special situations.
- The California EBT Project is a state website with information about the EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) debit card itself, and includes a link to the EBT client website, at which clients with EBT cards can log in (or establish a login account) to do things like check account balance and transaction history.
- Two other resources for households that want to find out how much they have left in benefits are to call the toll-free number on the back of EBT cards: 1-877-328-9677 or check a CalFresh account online at www.benefitscal.org. This handy link helps people in the state of California to select their county and jump straight to the online system their county uses.
BARRIERS TO ENROLLMENT
AARP published a study on SNAP Access Barriers Faced by Low-Income 50-59 Year Olds (click here to download the highlights). As discussed at the Humboldt County CalFresh Task Force, these obtacles and beliefs are common for most age groups, and the highlights of the AARP report offer suggestions for overcoming these barriers.