During the pandemic, if you receive CalFresh you will be given the maximum amount available. You’ll get your extra amount deposited into your account the following month. You can text 2-1-1 for more information on COVID-19 specific changes to benefits.

You might be eligible for CalFresh benefits as a result of COVID-19 through Disaster CalFresh and can find an application online.

You don’t need to meet the typical work requirement, in which you would need to be able to work 20 hours per week if you are an able-bodied adult. This has been waived by a federal waiver.

The Family Resource Center offices that handle CalFresh in San Diego are currently closed, but you can get support or apply at or call 866-262-9881. You can find out more info on the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency website.

If you need immediate food, you can request expedited service for your benefits or find a San Diego food bank.

Food Stamps in San Diego (CalFresh) Benefits

The federal government has a program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which most people refer to as food stamps. The program is called CalFresh in California and you can learn more about CalFresh and how to receive benefits across California in one of our companion articles. You might be eligible for CalFresh food stamps if you have a low income and fit a few other criteria. For Food Stamps in San Diego you will work with the family resource centers from the Health and Human Services Agency for your benefits.

CalFresh food stamps aren’t actually stamps. Instead you get an EBT card (like a debit card) that the government deposits money into every month. You can use the card at a lot of different grocery stores and markets. (You can look up where you can use your benefits in San Deigo online.)

You can only buy certain items with your EBT card. Here is a list of some of the items:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Rice, breads, and cereals
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese
  • Seeds and fully grown plants that produce fruits or vegetables

Things like alcohol, cleaning supplies, vitamins or medicine, or hot foods aren’t included.


Your eligibility for CalFresh is primarily determined by your household income. You cannot make more than 200% of the federal poverty level in gross income (before taxes) which you can look up online. If you qualify for this income, you’ll be considered on the basis of your income after taxes and other factors.

If you’re signing up in San Diego, you’ll need to be a resident of San Diego County and a U.S. citizen or an approved non-citizen.

Typically, if you’re an able-bodied adult that doesn’t have dependent children, you’ll need to be able to work 20 per week (or average of 80 hours per month) to earn an income. However, due COVID-19, you do not need to currently meet this work requirement.

The amount you receive will depend on your household and if there are seniors or people with disabilities in your household.

How Do I Apply for Food Stamps in San Diego?

In San Diego, the Health and Human Services Agency handles CalFresh, but due to the pandemic the offices are currently closed. You can still apply online at or get started by calling 866-262-9881. You can learn more on the county’s Health and Human Services Agency website.

When you submit your application, you will need to provide documentation about your financial situation and household. This includes things like your resident status and income, and it can be helpful to include bills, such as utilities, rent, and medical bills.

After you submit your application, you will need to interview, and if you’re approved your EBT card will be sent to you.

Other Resources

You can also find more resources for food and meals that could help your family at

Immediate Need: If you need immediate help with food, you can visit a local food bank that you can look up here.
If you’d like to learn more about how to save money and take advantage of all the government benefits that are available to you at this point in time, visit EKS California.