CalFresh is the name of the USDA-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the state of California. CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program to help low-income individuals, families, and college students buy the food they need. The program increases their food-buying power, helping to stretch a tight food budget and allowing many people afford to incorporate healthy foods into their diets. CalFresh benefits are used instead of money at the grocery store, and are issued via an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.

CalFresh benefits can be used at certain local farmers markets in addition to grocery stores and markets. Many farmers markets also support the Market Match Program, which provides matching funds to purchase extra fruits and vegetables. Information about participating farmers markets can be found on the Market Match website.

Where to Use CalFresh

Student Eligibility

Full eligibility details on the SNAP site.

Eligibility Exemption: Students who participate in Local Programs that Increase Employability (LPIE) are exempt from the CalFresh student eligibility rule. Refer to "CalFresh Student Eligibility: List of Approved LPIEs" on the CalFresh Policy page.

Application Process

Step 1: Contact your CalFresh Food Program and take the application prescreen. If you are not sure how to contact your program, contact our CalFresh Food Coordinator at

Step 2: If you think you may be eligible, complete and submit an application with your CalFresh Food Program. We encourage you to apply online with the help of your CalFresh Food Program because they are familiar with the questions and will likely get you through the application process faster.

Step 3: Once the application is received by the county, your 30-day application period begins.

Step 4: During this 30 day period, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete your INTERVIEW with the county office by phone or in person (The county office will either call or mail you a date and time for your interview)
  • Let your CalFresh Food Program know if you have not heard from the county within the first 7 days

Step 5: You will then be required to provide verification documents to your county office. This must also be completed during the 30 day period. Your application will not be approved if you do not submit verification documents that meet their requirements. Examples of verification documentation include:

  • Copy of ID
  • Proof of address
  • Utility Bill
  • Pay stubs
  • Financial aid award letter and schedule (if a student)

Step 6: In order to keep your CalFresh benefits, you will be required to do the following:

  • Complete a Semiannual Report (called a SAR 7 Eligibility Report) 6 months after your initial application is approved. The county will let you know when this is due.
  • Complete a Recertification Application and be interviewed before the end of your certification period. The county will let you know when your Recertification Application is due and will send you a letter confirming the time and date of your interview. Most interviews will be conducted over the phone.
Market Match

Market Match is California’s healthy food incentive program that matches customers’ CalFresh nutrition assistance benefits at farmers’ markets and other farm-direct sites. Market Match is distributed by over 60 community-based organizations and farmers’ market operators at over 250 sites across the state.

How it Works

  1. Find the farmers’ market or other farm-direct outlet nearest you that offers Market Match.
    You can use the Farmers’ Market Finder map to search for farmers’ markets and farm-direct outlets near you that accept CalFresh EBT and offer Market Match.
  2. Use your CalFresh EBT card.
    Go to the market’s information booth and a market staff member will swipe your CalFresh EBT card for the amount of your choice and you will receive tokens or paper vouchers to spend on any CalFresh-eligible food items at the market. At other farm-direct outlets such as farm stands, CSAs, and mobile markets, you can make a CalFresh purchase just as you would at the grocery store, without tokens or vouchers. Simply choose the items you would like to purchase, go to the checkout, and swipe your CalFresh EBT card.
  3. Receive your Market Match tokens or vouchers.
    The market staff will match your CalFresh benefits, providing you with Market Match tokens or vouchers to spend on fruits and vegetables. At other farm-direct outlets, Market Match is usually offered as a 50% discount instead of as tokens/vouchers.
  4. Spend!
    Spend the Market Match tokens or vouchers with any farmer in the market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh-cut herbs, or edible plant starts.


Will CalFresh affect my household’s financial aid or taxes?

CalFresh is not considered income and does not affect your household’s financial aid or taxes.

I live with my parents. Can I apply for CalFresh as an individual?

Students who live with their parents must be 22 years of age or older to apply as an individual household.

I live in on-campus housing. Can I apply for CalFresh?

Students living in dorms or on-campus apartments may be eligible for CalFresh if they meet all basic requirements and do not have a meal plan (or their meal plan provides 10 or less meals per week).

Do internships or volunteer work count toward a work exemption?

Unpaid internships or volunteer work do not count towards the work requirement. Refer to "CalFresh Student Eligibility: List of Approved LPIEs" on the CalFresh Policy page.

Can I qualify for CalFresh if I don’t have a job?

You may qualify for CalFresh without employment, as long as you meet the basic requirements and satisfy one student exemption.

This website is funded by USDA, SNAP, known in California as CalFresh, an equal opportunity provider and employer, and the California Department of Social Services.