Application Process

The application process has 3 steps.


1. Fill out an application

You can complete the application at your local county office or online at getcalfresh.org. You can also apply by phone at 1-877-847-3663.


2. Have a phone or in-person interview

In most cases, the county has 30 days after you turn in your application to determine if you are eligible for CalFresh. During the 30 days, the county will interview you. The interview will be either over the phone or in person. During the interview, the county will go over your application with you.


3. Submit verifications

The county may ask you for “verifications” or proof of income and certain costs. You will have 10 days to turn in the documents. Here are some examples of items the county may ask you for:

  • Proof of identity. This could be a drivers license or identification card, or a passport, or a work or school ID, or a birth certificate, or a voter registration card.

  • Proof of where you live. This could be a drivers license or ID card, or a utility bill, or a rent receipt.

  • Proof of income. For example, pay stubs, or a statement from employer, or an alimony check, or an award letter for unemployment or disability benefit.

  • Social security numbers for everyone who is applying. People who are not applying do not need to provide social security numbers.

  • Proof of housing costs. Examples include housing bills, or utility bills, or HOA fees, or a property tax statement.

  • Proof of child support paid.

  • Proof child or adult care costs. This could include child and adult care cost bills.

  • Proof of a disability. Examples include an award letter for a disability-based benefit.

  • Proof of medical costs for people who are age 60+ or disabled. This could include receipts for prescriptions, copay, service animal costs, glasses, and hearing aids.

Even if you do not have everything on the list, you should still apply. The county may be able to help you get the information.


If approved for CalFresh, you will receive an EBT card. You can use an EBT card like a debit card at most places to purchase food and even seeds to plant your own food. For more information, see the section on using CalFresh.


Questions about the Application Process


  1. Does it cost money to apply for CalFresh?

No. Applying for CalFresh is free and does not require a credit check.


  1. Do I have to go into the CalFresh office to apply?

No. You can apply for and receive CalFresh benefits without ever going into the CalFresh office. You can apply online at getcalfresh.org, complete your interview over the phone, and have your EBT card mailed to you.


  1. I’ve applied for unemployment but I haven’t received a response. Should I wait before I apply for CalFresh?

No. You can apply for CalFresh now. You can update your income with the county office once the unemployment office lets you know how much you’ll be receiving & when.


  1. Will the extra $300 received for pandemic unemployment count as income for CalFresh?

No, the additional $300 in pandemic unemployment will not count as income for CalFresh.


  1. I’ve applied. How can I check the status of my case? Contact your local county office.


  1. It’s been more than two weeks since I applied and I haven’t heard anything. What should I do?

Contact your local county office.


  1. I missed a call from the county office, what should I do? Contact your local county office.


  1. How can I submit documents to the county office after I submitted my application?

You can submit documents to the county office online here.


  1. I can’t get the documents the county is asking me to submit. What should I do?

Let the county know. The county office can help you get the needed documents or tell you if there are other ways to verify the information. Sometimes, you can have someone else verify the information or submit a signed note instead.


  1. How will I know if I’ve been approved or denied?

The county office will send you a letter in the mail within 30 days of your application. If you are approved you’ll receive your EBT card and a code to set up your PIN separately, in the mail.


  1. I think the county made a mistake and I was incorrectly denied CalFresh, what should I do?

If you think the county made a mistake, you can fill out the form on the back of the denial notice to request an appeal. You can also appeal online here.


  1. Can I get more CalFresh because I have medical expenses?

Sometimes, yes. If you have a disability or are 60 years or older you can deduct medical expenses to increase your CalFresh amount. Let your county know about your medical expenses. You might have to submit documentation of these expenses.


Click here to see all the FAQ about CalFresh.