Basket of vegetables & fruit
CalFresh benefits can be used to buy groceries.

CalFresh Expanding Benefits to More SLO County Residents

Author: Social Services
Date: 5/1/2019 8:00:00 AM

This state-level change means better access to nutritious food and more federal dollars coming to local retailers.

More seniors and people living with disabilities in California will be potentially eligible for CalFresh, the state program that provides food assistance to people in need, thanks to a state-level change going into effect this June. People who currently receive SSI/SSP benefits will be potentially eligible. This change is known as the CalFresh SSI Expansion and will enable people in need to access benefits that were previously not available to them.

Locally, this means an estimated 1,755 SLO County residents who receive SSI/SSP benefits may be eligible to also receive CalFresh benefits. This means better access to nutritious food in our community and more federal dollars coming to local retailers.

Beginning June 1, 2019, if you or a family member are an SSI/SSP recipient and are interested in applying for the CalFresh program, you can apply online at or at You can also apply in person at any local Department of Social Services office. In some situations, you may be eligible for expedited CalFresh benefits.

This change is the result of AB 1811 for FY18/19, which reverses a long-standing policy (often called the “cash out” policy) and enables California’s SSI/SSP beneficiaries to become eligible for CalFresh benefits. 

Since 1974, the federal government has allowed a combined federal-state SSI/SSP program for eligible individuals with disabilities. At that time, states were allowed to increase the amount of their SSP grant (the amount of cash benefits an individual with disabilities received) instead of administering what was then known as the Food Stamp Program for SSI/SSP recipients. California opted for this “cash out” policy and increased its monthly SSP grant by about $10 per recipient. As a result, any individuals who received SSI/SSP benefits were ineligible to receive food stamps (now called CalFresh) as they were essentially receiving the cash benefit of what their food benefit would have been. However, over the years since this program was first authorized, the gap between the SSP benefit and the amount of potential CalFresh benefits has grown.  Many states have now moved away from this “cash out” policy and have opted to allow people who receive SSI/SSP benefits to be eligible for food benefits as well. In California, this food benefit is called CalFresh.

Learn more about CalFresh at