Expanded CalFresh Eligibility for College Students Ends June 2023

Ceci Partridge

The temporary expansion of the CalFresh eligibility for college students in California will come to an end in June, after the federal public health emergency ends.

The temporary expansion allowed for college students eligible for work-study and those whose families have a zero-dollar required contribution to their education expenses to qualify for the state’s largest food program.

Local college students are encouraged to apply for the food assistance program, which can help stretch their grocery budgets and promote healthier eating. Currently, two in five college students are eligible for CalFresh, and a single student can receive up to $281 in food benefits each month.

County officials say that students currently participating in the food program remain eligible under the existing temporary exemptions until their next recertification, which happens on a yearly basis. After June 10, students who wish to enroll in CalFresh for the first time will need to meet one of the permanent student exemptions to be eligible.

Examples of permanent student exemptions include students who receive cash aid or CalWORKs, work 20 hours a week, single parents with children under 12, and those who are 17 or younger or 50 and over.

Allison Gonzalez, assistant director of the county’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), encourages college students to apply for the program now, before the temporary exemptions expire. Gonzalez said, “We can check their eligibility and help them enroll when we are visiting their campus. Students may also call us, visit any of our office locations, or apply online as soon as possible.”

Over the past two years, targeted outreach efforts have helped boost student enrollment in CalFresh. Local campuses have resources dedicated to informing students about the program and other resources to help students get access to healthy, affordable food.

In addition, the DPSS community outreach team has made over 20 visits to local college campuses to help get the word out and help students apply. The county outreach workers have assisted many students like 64-year-old Kim Valentin, who was concerned about the end of the temporary student exemptions.

Valentin said that CalFresh had given her the freedom needed to tailor her grocery list to meet her specific nutritional needs. She added, “If people don’t have a way to get food, they will not do well in school. The good news is there is help, and you’ve got to reach out.”

Riverside County residents can apply for CalFresh online at BenefitsCal.com, by calling 1-877-410-8827, or by visiting the nearest DPSS office.

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