Food stamp eligibility is complicated, and the rules change often. This page is a good starting point, but the best way to find out if you’re eligible for food stamps is to apply for them.
If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, let us know.
To figure out if you qualify for food stamps, California needs to know your:
- Household size: How many people you live and buy/make food with.
- Income: How much money your household makes. This includes both earned income (the money you make from jobs) and unearned income (cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support, etc.).
Anyone you live and buy/make food with counts a member of your household.
You may live with people who don’t count as household members, like tenants who are renting a room, or adult children (22+) who buy/make their own food.
Children (under 22) always count as household members, even if they buy/make their own food.
Elderly (60+) and disabled people count as household members if you buy/make food for them, or you buy/make food together. If they live with you but buy/make food separately, they do not count as household members.
Yes, as long as you aren’t leaving a job or reducing your hours specifically so that you’ll qualify. Visit your local office or call the California SNAP hotline to learn more: 1-877-847-3663.
Yes. If you’re eligible for food stamps, California won’t disqualify you because of a drug felony.
Non-citizens who have qualified alien immigration status are eligible for food stamps.
Qualified aliens include refugees, victims of trafficking, Cuban and Haitian immigrants, Iraqi and Afghan immigrants with special status, and more.
You may be eligible for food stamps if you’re at least one of the following:
- Enrolled less than half time.
- Employed at least 20 hours/week.
- Receiving federal or state work study financial aid.
- Receiving cash assistance (TANF).
- Enrolled in a program that doesn’t require a high school diploma.
Some states have additional exceptions for students. Call the California SNAP hotline to learn more: 1-877-847-3663.
Yes. You do not need a mailing address or housing to apply for food stamps. If you’re currently living in a shelter that gives you free meals, you can still apply for food stamps. While homeless, you’ll also be able to use your food stamps at some restaurants.
Once your child is born, your household size will increase. More household members = more benefits.
While you are pregnant, you can’t get more food stamps, but you can apply for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits.
WIC provides food and resources for pregnant women, new parents, and children up to 5 years old.
Check out this benefit finder tool and find out.