Big News in Hunger for Seniors and Adults With Disabilities!

April 30, 2019

For the first time since 1974, SSI recipients in California are eligible to receive CalFresh benefits. That’s 40,000 people in San Francisco and 3,000 neighbors in Marin – seniors and people with disabilities – who will be newly eligible for food stamp benefits.

With CalFresh benefits for a one-person household averaging $130 a month, this change can make a huge difference for someone in need. And, participating in CalFresh will not reduce SSI benefit amounts in any way.

Boosting food access and the local economy

Even conservative estimates suggest that connecting SSI recipients with CalFresh will result in many millions of dollars a year for low-income seniors and people with disabilities to spend on groceries. This won’t just improve the lives of SSI recipients, but the local economy gets a boost too. Every $1 spent in CalFresh benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity!

It took years of dedicated advocacy efforts by our Food Bank and our partners to achieve this historic change, which will improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.  It wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our donors and coalition partners. Thank you!

In the coming weeks and months, the Food Bank’s Policy & Advocacy team and CalFresh Outreach team will work closely with the state, our counties, and other local partners to share this exciting news and assist hundreds of neighbors with CalFresh enrollment.

Learn More

  • This fact sheet from Californians for SSI provides a simple summary of the changes to CalFresh eligibility for SSI recipients

Take Action!

Are you an SSI recipient interested in applying for CalFresh benefits?

  • CLICK: Apply online:
  • CALL: Call our hotline to get application assistance in English, Spanish, or Chinese: 415-549-7021
  • COME IN: Walk into a county office to apply in person: Locations are listed on the Human Services Agency website

Are you a community-based organization interested in helping your clients enroll? 

  1. The Food Bank provides CalFresh Outreach and Application Assistance training for agencies who work closely with SSI recipients. For San Francisco-based agencies, contact Ada Lai at 415-282-1907 x258 or For Marin organizations, contact Alexandra Danino at 415-282-1907 x014 or
  2. Check out the San Francisco Human Services Agency Partner Toolkit, which includes helpful resources and outreach materials
  3. Another helpful resource is the California Department of Social Services Outreach Tool Kit for Partners
  4. Download informational flyers to hand out and post at your organization:

Want to get engaged with Food Bank’s Advocacy efforts like this?

This historic victory was made possible through the advocacy of the Californians for SSI Coalition (CA4SSI). As a partner and ally in improving the lives of SSI recipients, we want to invite you to join us on one of our CA4SSI membership conference calls every other Tuesday at 11:30am to share updates and discuss strategy. Why stop at CalFresh? Please join us as we advocate to increase the grants to people on SSI!

Check out this video of our listening session with SSI recipients on how hard it is to make ends meet on SSI:

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CalFresh Success Story | “Food stamps helped me stay in school.”

May 4, 2017

When 29-year-old Julia was in her last year of nursing school, she finally succumbed to the stark reality of her situation. Her husband had recently been laid off from his engineering job, and with bills piling up, the couple wasn’t sure if they could afford for Julia to finish school. They were also struggling to put food on the table for their kids.

“It got pretty scary for a while,” Julia recalls. “My husband and I were just trying to feed our family. We were so careful with our spending, but it just wasn’t enough.”  

After maxing-out their credit cards, Julia realized it was time to reach out for help. They applied for CalFresh, a federally-funded nutrition program (formerly called Food Stamps) that helps low-income households buy healthy foods.

Getting enrolled made a quick but lasting impact on Julia’s family. “I remember how we immediately all started eating better food. We’re talking about fruits and vegetables we had been skipping. And, food stamps helped me stay in school and earn my degree,” Julia says.

After Julia graduated, she landed a job as a labor and delivery nurse at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. With her steady income and her husband back at work, the family no longer needed CalFresh. But it’s not far from her mind: part of her job at the hospital is to help new mothers with financial challenges sign up for the program.

“If you’re not doing very well, and you’re not making enough money, CalFresh is one of the best ways to help you get by until you can get back on your feet.  It certainly helped me and my family get over the hump,” she says.

The Food Bank’s CalFresh Team is dedicated to getting eligible families like Julia’s connected to this valuable food assistance program. Last year, we helped 2,144 households apply for CalFresh, and families enrolled by the Food Bank were awarded over $5 million in benefits to buy groceries. Because CalFresh brings federal dollars into low-income communities, it is one of the best tools we have to end hunger.

Donate to our programs that help neighbors like Julia.

Learn more about our CalFresh Outreach