The Providers Guide To EBT/CalFresh In California

Keeping track of all the EBT information out there can be overwhelming. So, we’ve broken down all the basics in one handy guide.

If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, let us know.

Updated: April 11, 2024
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What's the Golden State Advantage card?

The Golden State Advantage card is California’s EBT card.

EBT = electronic benefits transfer.

EBT card = a card that looks and works like a debit or credit card but is loaded with food stamps (also known as SNAP benefits) and/or cash benefits. You can use it at stores that accept EBT.

You’ll get the Golden State Advantage card once you’re approved for benefits.

California’s EBT customer service number is 1-877-328-9677.

How do I apply for CalFresh food benefits (food stamps)?

The easiest way to apply for CalFresh food stamps is online at either GetCalFresh.org (CalFresh only) or BenefitsCal.com (CalFresh and Medi-Cal and CalWORKS).

Some counties will also let you apply over the phone.

If you’d rather apply in person, call the CalFresh Information Line (1-877-847-3663), or find your local county office.

Learn if you’re eligible for food stamps.

How do I renew my CalFresh food benefits (food stamps)?

You’ll have to renew your food stamps before your certification period (the amount of time you’ll get food stamps) ends. For most California households without elderly (60+) or disabled people, that period is 12 months. For most California households with elderly (60+) or disabled people, that period is 24 months.

You’ll get a letter in the mail when it’s time to reapply. To be safe, you could also put a note in your calendar or wherever you keep important reminders.

You can submit your renewal a few ways:

1. Online at BenefitsCal.com

2. Returning the paper by mail

As part of the renewal, most CalFresh recipients have to do a telephone interview too. Look in the mail for your appointment time, or look online in the "Notifications" section of BenefitsCal.

To find out the easiest way to renew in your county, call your county worker, local county office, or the CalFresh Information Line: 1-877-847-3663.

When will I get my CalFresh food benefits (food stamps)?

California sends out food stamps over the first 10 days of every month, based on the last digit of your case number. Check the full schedule to find out which day you’ll get your food stamps.

What household changes do I have to report and when?

Most households only have to report the following two changes twice a year (at the halfway point and when you recertify):

  • When someone moves in or out of your household.
  • Financial changes like income, rent, savings, or child support.

Most households need to report the following three changes no more than 10 days after they happen:

  • When your household income goes over the monthly income limit. This could be because someone starts making more money or someone with income moves in.
  • When an adult without a disability or a child (what the government calls an ABAWD) who was working or training 20 hours/week starts working or training less.
  • The receipt of substantial lottery or gambling winnings.

While optional, you should consider reporting your new address if you are moving to make sure you don’t miss any important letters.

You can report changes online at BenefitsCal.

How do I replace a lost or stolen EBT card?

If you need to replace your EBT card (because it's lost, stolen, or damaged), do this:

1. Call the California EBT hotline: 1-877-328-9677

2. Press 1 for English, or choose another language from the options

3. When it asks for your card number, don't press anything — just wait

4. After 2-3 times asking for your card number, it will give you an option to press 1 to report your card lost, stolen, or damaged

5. You will then be connected to a customer service representative who can order you a replacement card

My benefits were stolen off my EBT card. What can I do?

Call the California EBT hotline number at 1-877-328-9677. Your state may require you to change your PIN, report your card stolen, and/or request a new card.

If your benefits were electronically stolen in or after October 2022 (e.g., through skimming or phishing), you may be able to have some or all of your stolen benefits replaced.

What can I buy with EBT?

You can use food stamps to buy groceries, snacks, and seeds or plants that will produce food.

You cannot use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, live animals, hot foods, or any non-food household items.

Which stores and restaurants take EBT food stamps?

Download Providers to see nearby stores and farmer’s markets that take EBT. You don’t need an account to use the map. If you’re 60 or older, disabled, or homeless, you can also use EBT at some restaurants. New restaurants will be joining this program soon.

Can I get any discounts with my EBT card?

Yes! Your EBT card can get you and your family discounted or free admission to museums, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and more.

Can I get more food stamps if I’m pregnant or a new parent?

Once your child is born, you should report the change to your county (on BenefitsCal.) More household members = more benefits.

If or have a child under five years old, consider applying for the WIC program, which gives you extra benefits on top of food stamps.

My family can’t afford other basic needs besides food.

If you have a child who is under 18 years old, you may qualify for cash assistance through the CalWORKS program.

CalWORKS provides monthly cash assistance to help families with children get by during tough times.

This page was written based on official government sources, and has been edited for simplicity.

We work hard to ensure this information is accurate, helpful, and up-to-date. We welcome any corrections or feedback here.