In an effort to make sure that all residents who are eligible for a federal food program take advantage of it, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors designated May as CalFresh month, and officials are doing special outreach to low-income families and individuals.

Those who should consider applying are people who are unemployed, underemployed, involved in Welfare-to-Work, who work full-time but still meet the income eligibility or are on programs like General Relief or Social Security.

CalFresh is the new name for the Food Stamp program, and according to Phil Ansell, acting chief deputy director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), more than 1 million (10 percent) of county residents currently receive the benefit.

Ansell also noted that this is the highest number of people in the program’s history, but added that only about 50 percent of eligible households have applied. To qualify for CalFresh, a family of three must make less than $2,000 per month. If all other criteria are met, the family can receive at least $500 in food benefits.

An adult without a minor child, who makes less than $1,180 per month should qualify for the minimum amount.

If the family unit consists of parents who are undocumented immigrants and children who are legal United States citizens, they can still apply for the CalFresh program at
Eligible county residents must be at least 16 years old and a legal resident or U.S. citizen, and can apply online at, or by going into a DPSS office.

Applications are available in nine language beside English–Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Russian, Tagalog, Spanish and Vietnamese. There are also DPSS staff who are trained to help applicants in languages as well.

Typically, it takes 30 days to process a CalFresh application, but there are certain circumstances where it can be done more quickly, such as in the case of a homeless applicant.

CalFresh ideally is designed to help people purchase food from locations such as supermarkets or farmer’s markets, but there is also a Restaurant Meals program that enables the homeless to take advantage of the food program. More than 1,200 restaurants in the county participate, making it the largest such offering in the country.