CalFresh for Specific Populations

CalFresh for Persons who are Non-Citizens

Public Charge information for non-citizens:

STATUS UPDATE Oct 11, 2019:

On October 11th, 2019, three federal judges issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking this rule from going into effect October 15th, 2019. While we wait for a permanent injunction, this means that it will continue to be safe, after Oct 15th, for non-citizens to access nutrition, housing, medical benefits, and more, and it will not impact public charge determination (and thus ability to become a U.S. citizen in the future). The Administration will likely challenge the judge's decicion on appeal, so stay tuned. Click here to read the official 24-page ruling. While nothing has changed yet, we are aware that it is already having a negative impact on the communities we serve.

Core community messages:

  • Use of public benefits alone will not make someone a public charge. Know the facts and one's rights.
  • It's not over - 3 federal judges issued temporary injunctions on October 11th, 2019, blocking the rule from going into effect Oct 15th. The law suits that were filed to stop the rule must still continue to play out. The Administration will likely file an appeal. Keep posted for updates!

History of the proposed new rule

On August 14, 2019 the new rule regarding public charge was posted to the federal register, and it was intended to go into effect 60 days later, on October 15, 2019. Law suits were filed by states and counties, and they were successful at receiving a nationwide temporary injunction from 3 federal judges, to block the rule from going into effect for the timebeing. Please stay tuned for updates.

What was the difference between the longstanding rule and the proposed new rule? In the past public charge determination has typically applied to use of cash aid programs and long-term care institutionalization and NOT programs such as SNAP/CalFresh, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, etc., which were included in the proposed new rule.

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, who it applies to, and many additional resource links.

CalFresh for Students

Students qualify for CalFresh too, though some special rules apply. Click here for the CalFresh Student Eligibility Handbook, released by California Dept. of Social Services (CDSS) in February 2020. It's quite comprehensive.

Learn more about reaching students with CalFresh by watching this webinar.

New rule change: Current rules in CalFresh restrict most full time students from receiving benefits, unless they meet an exemption, despite reports of widespread hunger on college campuses. Exemptions to the rule exist for students who are working a certain number of hours, participating in federal work-study, or caring for young children, to name a few. Unfortunately, the shortage of jobs has made it hard for students to survive.

The Hunger Free Education Act reduces barriers to achieving academic success and social mobility for low-income college students. It draws down federal food assistance funding through procedures for determining whether students qualify for exemptions to the CalFresh student work requirement. A new exemption includes students who participate in the Extended Opportunity Programs (EOP). More info at Western Center on Law & Poverty.

Many studies are finding that a significant number of students nationwide struggle with hunger, homelessness, and poverty, and many colleges are opening campus food pantries. California State University (CSU) published a February 2016 study showing that 24% of the CSU system's 460,000 students could be struggling with hunger. The report recommends CSU administrators devote more funding to addressing student hunger and homelessness.

CalFresh Outreach with Persons who are Homeless

This presentation, by River City Food Bank, answers questions regarding doing outreach with people who do not have a permanent home. This includes the CalFresh definition of homeless, homeless youth, ID verification, residency and address issues, shelter residents, reporting, and other information.

This July 2013 All County Letter (ACL) provides clarification on homeless youth applying for CalFresh. This includes specific information on the definition of homeless, proof of identification, verification of address, and the misconception that there is an age requirement.

Legal Services of Northern California explains homeless rights in the CalFresh program.

Removal of Lifetime Ban for Certain Drug Felons

The 2014-15 state budget repealed the lifetime ban on CalFresh benefits for individuals with prior drug-related felony offenses, as long as they are complying with the conditions of their probation or parole. Since March 1, 2015, people with felony drug convictions can apply for CalFresh. This helps ensure that Californians have access to the nutrition resources necessary for a successful re-entry. The budget action also repeals the ban on CalWORKs basic needs assistance benefits.

Click here to download a new flyer, in English or in Spanish, generated for outreach workers across the state to utilize to get the word out, which you can customize with your organization's contact info for application assistance.

CalFresh and CalWORKs are crucial to many low-income individuals and families in California. These programs help with food, rent, job training and placement, and other important services that many of us might need at some point. Many families and individuals have been denied access to these programs through “Tough On Crime” policies that instituted lifetime bans on basic survival services.

Individuals with drug and felony convictions are disproportionately low-income, and more than half are parents. That is a lot of families left without a safety net of social services, especially when the unemployment rate for people with criminal records can be quite high. Lack of services, employment, and assistance leads to homelessness and recidivism (relapsing into criminal behavior). It also continues to criminalize past acts that have already been settled through fines and imprisonment. Additionally, it denies food and housing to children who are innocent of whatever crimes their parents committed.

The lifetime ban on receiving CalFresh for people with drug related felony offenses has been in place across California since 1996. That year a lifetime ban went into effect, nationwide, on what was then known as the Food Stamp Program, for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense. By 1998 states were allowed to "opt out" of the lifetime ban. Since then a majority of states have partially or wholly opted out of the ban. Only 12 states currently maintain the full lifetime ban for any type of felony drug offense. Advocates across California have attempted to eliminate the ban every legislative session since 1998. More information is available from California Food Policy Advocates.

Disaster SNAP Due to Natural Disaster

Disaster CalFresh (or Disaster SNAP / D-SNAP) provides temporary food assistance for households affected by a natural disaster. It provides one month of benefits to eligible disaster survivors and can facilitate the issuance of supplemental benefits for ongoing households. People who are not usually eligible for CalFresh can qualify for Disaster CalFresh if they meet the criteria below. This includes people on SSI. The State and affected counties work together to apply to the USDA for Disaster CalFresh. Once approved, there is a 7 day application window. In order to get Disaster CalFresh, people must apply for it within that 7 day window.

Read our full article at this link for more background on this topic, who qualifies, how to apply, how to assist with outreach, and many additional resource links.