Food for People

The Food Bank for Humboldt County
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COVID-19 CalFresh

COVID-19 CalFresh Information

 

Temporary 15% Benefit Increase extended through September 30, 2021:

  • From January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 all CalFresh benefits are being increased by 15%.
  • Since this was announced late January, the increase for January 2021 was issued as a supplement on February 7.
  • The monthly minimum benefit has also temporarily increased from $16 to $19/month (however as long as Emergency Allotments keep getting approved monthly, everyone will receive the maximum benefit amount for their household size). See the section below for more details on Emergency Allotments.
  • Click here for the income limits and new maximum benefit amounts in both English and Spanish.

 

Emergency CalFresh Allotments:

  • March 2021 CalFresh Emergency Allotment was approved and will be available on EBT cards on April 18, so long as the emergency declaration is still in effect on March 1st. This will bring cases up to the maximum allowed benefit, as it has in past months. This is done at the state level, and Humboldt County is not responsible for issuing the benefits to cards.

  • Februrary 2021 CalFresh Emergency Allotment was approved and available on EBT cards on March 7.

  • January 2021 CalFresh Emergency Allotment was approved and available on EBT cards on February 13.

  • December 2020 CalFresh Emergency Allotment was approved and available on EBT cards on January 10.

  • All households with active CalFresh cases in the benefit month will receive the maximum amount of benefits for their household size. 

  • Emergency Allotments are approved on a rolling basis and issued by the State of California (NOT at the local County level). The Emergency Allotment for a benefit month is issued in the middle of the next month. (So, expect to see your usual benefit amount at the usual time and to get the Emergency Allotment boost up to the maximum benefit level for your household size around the middle of the next month. When you get that boost mid-December, it's technically for November.)

  • If for some reason you do not receive your Emergency Allotment, please seek help immediately. If you wait too long or into the next month, you might not be able to get the Emergency Allotment going back in time that far. 

  • Households that already receive the maximum amount of benefits will not receive an extra issuance.

  • There is no extra paperwork to turn in to get the extra CalFresh benefits. It will simply be added to your EBT card, and you'll be able to use it just like regular CalFresh.

 

What if you're not getting CalFresh currently?

Our CalFresh Outreach staff are here to help with the application process, the eligibility process after your application has been submitted to the County, and questions/tips on reporting and recertifying in order to continue receiving benefits. Once you are receiving CalFresh, it is important to take all the necessary steps to make sure benefits continue for as long as you need them, and our staff are experts in helping households with this process.

  1. Call our CalFresh Outreach staff at (707) 499-6477 (text or call--this is a dedicated CalFresh Outreach mobile phone)

  2. Email our CalFresh Outreach staff at CalFresh@foodforpeople.org

  3. You can also call (707) 445-3166 extension 318 or 308. For Spanish language assistance, please use extension 318. (Please note that staff attend food bank activities all over the county and are not always at their desks, so the mobile phone number listed above in option #1 is best.)

  4. Fill out our online CalFresh Calback Form, and our staff will call or email you back.

 

And what if you have already applied, or are getting CalFresh currently, and have questions about the process?

  • Reach out to our Outreach staff with the contact info listed above.
  • We can provide answers and support with completing your application process successfully, even if you have already applied and are waiting for next steps.
  • We can help with reports that ensure you continue receiving benefits.
  • We can help answer questions if you get a "Notice of Action" or letter in the mail about your benefits, loss of benefits, or request by the county for more information from you.
  • Our goal is to support you in obtaining nutrition benefits and help you keep your benefits, so that you don't need to reapply!

 

Pandemic EBT for schoolchildren:

SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATE:

  • Due to COVID-19, beginning in spring 2020, California children in a K-12 school, who were eligible for free or reduced-price meals, were able to get extra food benefits called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT. The first round of P-EBT provided benefits to elegible schoolchildren for the months of March, April, May, and June 2020.

  • P-EBT Extension: P-EBT was approved to provide additional benefits, to children who already received P-EBT benefits, for the monts of August and September. Children eligible for P-EBT extension benefits:

  1. Previously received P-EBT benefits for the 2019-20 school year;

  2. Are attending a California K-12 school for the 2020-21 school year; and

  3. Are assumed to be attending school virtually or via a hybrid model of virtual and in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year.

  • Under the P-EBT Extension, each eligible child will receive a new P-EBT card via mail, with P-EBT benefits for the months of August and September 2020, for children who previously received P-EBT, excluding children who have since completed/graduated school.

  • California began mailing new P-EBT cards on Monday, October 26, 2020, directly to families that previously received P-EBT over the summer of 2020, and will continue mailing cards through the end of December 2020. Families that previously received P-EBT benefits do not need to apply to receive P-EBT extension benefits.

  • The P-EBT Helpline is also available as of Monday, October 26, 2020. The P-EBT Helpline can be reached by calling the EBT Customer Service Center at 877-328-9677. This is the same EBT Customer Service Center phone number listed on the back of each P-EBT card. The P-EBT Helpline will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The P-EBT Helpline can assist with PIN set up, address changes, and replacement of lost/stolen P-EBT cards. The P-EBT Helpline cannot assist with inquiries related to P-EBT eligibility or timing of card delivery and cannot issue P-EBT benefits. Though Counties have been assisting households with P-EBT for some time, beginning on November 9, 2020, the P-EBT Helpline will be the only way to get P-EBT cardholder support.

  • There is no standard benefit amount under the P-EBT extension. An eligible family will get $5.86 per child per day for every eligible school day. The P-EBT extension benefit amount is based on each student’s learning situation and can vary from student to student, even within a family. The maximum amount of P-EBT extension benefits an eligible child can receive is $246.

  • P-EBT 2.0 is in development.

  • P-EBT extension materials, including a flyer and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in English, Spanish and Chinese will be posted to the CDSS P-EBT homepage at www.cdss.ca.gov/pandemic-ebt as available.

  • Families can participate in both P-EBT and current "grab & go" school meal programs through COVID-19 emergency feeding sites offered by schools.

  • P-EBT is not CalFresh, but it is used the same way at grocery stores, farmers' markets, and online with Amazon or Walmart (shipping is not covered--more on that below)

  • IMPORTANT: Children who are newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals for the 2020-21 school year are not eligible for P-EBT extension benefits and will be served under a second P-EBT program. This is awaiting federal approval and guidance.

  • We will post more information about P-EBT for the 2020-2021 school year when it is available.

  • The California Association of Food Banks has been working on a research project aimed at capturing P-EBT participants' experiences with P-EBT, its impact, and any problems households experienced, in order to better inform the future of P-EBT. The survey can be taken in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Please fill out the survey here: https://bit.ly/pebt-survey

 

Online Purchasing with CalFresh EBT card:

  • Starting on April 28, 2020, CalFresh households have been welcome to use their EBT cards to purchase food online through Amazon and Walmart.

  • In addition, EBT online has been expanded to include a number of Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons locations across California, plus Aldi through Instacart

  • In Humboldt County--that means just Safeway, and more specifically, only the Eureka Safeway. We have verified with Eureka Safeway how it works:

  1. Shop online for Eureka Safeway and do curbside pickup (not delivery)

  2. Pay when you pick up. A Safeway employee brings a tablet to your car to slide your EBT card and enter PIN.

  • The state is working hard to add more stores in the future.

  • Amazon will accept CalFresh benefits, and Walmart will be able to accept CalFresh and CalWORKs cash aid. CalWORKs cash aid can be used on non-food items.

  • Starting on April 28, 2020, the process for EBT online purchasing follows a similar process as is currently used for debit or credit card purchases. After shopping for items online, choose a delivery date and time, and then go to the payment page. Select method of payment, and enter EBT card number. A virtual secure Personal Identification Number (PIN) pad will be presented on the screen. Enter PIN to complete the transaction.

  • Amazon and Walmart offer free delivery on online purchases over $35.00. Delivery fees for orders under $35.00 vary and can be found on the respective retailers’ websites. Federal law prohibits the usage of CalFresh benefits to pay for delivery, convenience, or other fees and charges associated with online purchasing. CalFresh shopers will be required to use another method of payment for any delivery fees. Walmart accepts CalWORKs cash benefits to pay for delivery fees.

  • To help address delivery fees, Amazon offers "Amazon Cash" at over 11,000 locations throughout California, including 7-Eleven, RiteAid, and CVS stores. EBT cardholders can create an account and deposit as little as $5.00 cash at any Amazon Cash location. There are no fees associated with this service. Cardholders may then use the money they deposited to pay delivery fees or purchase other items from Amazon. Cardholders can find locations by visiting the Amazon Cash website, found at this link. This web page provides detailed instructions for setting up and using the Amazon Cash service.

 

Temporary College Student Elegibility Changes:

  • There are two temporary changes to CalFresh eligibility for college students:

    1)      Students who are eligible for federal or state work study are eligible; they no longer have to anticipate working.2)      Students are now eligible if the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) determines they have a $0 Expected Family Contribution. 
  • These two temporary changes will be in effect for applications “until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted at the federal level. During this period, existing CalFresh households may also add a new member to the household if the individual, if not for this temporary change, would have been previously excluded due to the student eligibility rule.”
  • For current households, the temporary changes will be in effect until the household’s first recertification, no earlier than 30 days after the end of the public health emergency.

 

Purchasing hot, prepared food with CalFresh:

  • In response to California wildfires, 35 California counties (including Humboldt) have been approved for temporarily allowing CalFresh to be used to purchase hot, prepared foods at SNAP authorized retailers through November 22, 2020.

  • Please note that some retailers may need more time than others to make changes that will allow for sale of hot foods. Expect this to roll out toward the middle or later part of the final week of October 2020, depending on the retailer.

  • Please check with the retailer, before selecting hot foods, to make sure that they are officially ready to accept EBT payment for hot, prepared foods.

 

More changes are in the works, in response to COVID-19, and we'll post those as they are implemented.

 
Click here to jump to our COVID-19 info page on the economic stimulus checks and how to receive yours.