San Rafael, CA – People receiving financial assistance from a federally funded program won’t have to wait much longer to be eligible to receive CalFresh food benefits after a change in state law.
Marin HHS helps lower-income residents gain better access to healthy foods through various assistance programs.
As of June 1, people receiving Supplemental Security Income / State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP) can apply to receive CalFresh benefits with assistance from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), CalFresh provides qualified applicants with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that may be used like a debit card in participating grocery stores and farmers markets to supplement food purchases.
As of June 2018, 3,182 Marin County residents received SSI/SSP. Of that number,1,417 individuals (44.5 percent) were 65 years old or older and 2,427 (76.2 percent) were people with disabilities. Marin HHS expects 3,000 residents to be newly eligible to CalFresh food benefits with this program expansion.
SSI is a needs-based program that provides a monthly benefit to individuals who are blind, elderly, or have a disability. For disabled people who have never worked, or those who haven't worked enough in the recent years to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI may be the only program available to them.
“CalFresh is the best tool we have for fighting hunger and improving nutrition among lower-income residents,” said Social Service Division Director Jesse Paran. “Some of the recipients are on fixed incomes and don’t have many additional resources for food aside from the CalFresh contributions. We’re thankful that this expansion is likely to increase participation and improve the health of our most needy residents.”
HHS staff is prepared to help older adults and people with disabilities who receive SSI apply for CalFresh. Approximately 9,500 Marin residents receive CalFresh benefits. In 2018, there were 4,263 children and 1,488 older adults who received the benefits.
CalFresh benefits stretch household budgets, allowing individuals and families to afford nutritious food, including more fruit, vegetables, and other healthy options. Food benefits for one person range from $15 to $192 per month, with a national average of $105 to $110 per month for older adults and people with disabilities.
Households that already receive CalFresh and have a member of the household that has been excluded because they receive SSI do not need to re-apply or contact HHS. Also, if SSI applicants choose to apply for CalFresh, their SSP benefit will not go away and will remain the same.
“As a community, we are rapidly aging and aging into disability,” said Eli Gelardin, Executive Director for the Marin Center for Independent Living. “People over 60 will soon account for a third of our overall population. Social isolation, food insecurity, access to transportation and housing make a significant impact on health and wellness. Food is a form of medicine, and the expansion of CalFresh will ensure that thousands in Marin will have a better quality of life."
There are three ways to connect with HHS staff and apply:
- Apply at GetCalFresh.org
- Call 1-877-410-8817 to apply over the phone
- Visit any HHS Public Assistance office:
- 120 North Redwood Drive, San Rafael (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
- 3240 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
- 1 6th Street, Point Reyes Station (9 a.m. to noon, 1-4:30 p.m.)
The CalFresh application process includes:
- Completing an application – by phone, online, or in person.
- Providing proof of income and expenses, if needed.
- Completing an interview – by phone or in person.
Counties determine eligibility in 30 days or less. If the applicant has very little to no resources, eligibility can be expedited.
Reasonable accommodations and services in multiple languages are available for applicants. Additional state-funded nutrition benefits are also available to households participating in CalFresh that experience a drop in benefits due to the state now counting SSI income in the CalFresh case.
For more information, call 1-877-410-8817 or visit: the Marin HHS CalFresh webpage or the State of California's page.