Calfresh's colorful food logo alongside ecrt's colorful circles logo

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What is CalFresh?

CalFresh (federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) is a federally mandated, state-supervised, and county-operated government entitlement program that provides monthly food benefits to assist low-income households in purchasing the food they need to maintain adequate nutritional levels. In general, these benefits are for any food or food product intended for human consumption and can add to your food budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table. If you are finding it difficult to afford the nutritious food that you and your family needs, the CalFresh Program may be able to help you. The amount of benefits you can receive is dependent on your family size, countable income, and monthly expenses such as housing, utilities, and so forth.

All U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Resident children may qualify to receive CalFresh benefits, regardless of where the parents were born. Parents may also qualify for benefits if all other program guidelines are met. Individuals with no children also may qualify.

The program issues monthly benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores. These benefits are issued on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card which looks like any other credit card. Benefits may not be used for items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or paper products.

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Eligibility for Students

There are certain eligibility requirements for students enrolling in CalFresh. It can sometimes be challenging to navigate the application process for students, and we encourage SDSU students who may be eligible for CalFresh to connect with our CalFresh Enrollment Specialists who can determine your eligibility and help you through the entire application process.

Student Eligibility Requirements:

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COVID-19 Temporary Changes to Eligibility for Students

CalFresh has new, temporary changes to the student eligibility rule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes are effective immediately and will remain in place until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted. Students who now meet the eligibility requirements outlined below are highly encouraged to apply.

Changes include expanding CalFresh to students that are eligible for state or federal work study and/or those that have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0. It is no longer required that a student be officially approved for work study or anticipate getting a work study job to be eligible for CalFresh.
Students who have an EFC of 0 will be notified by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) starting on February 8, 2021.
Students can also use a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR), OR a copy of their 2020-21 Eligibility Notification that can be found on my.SDSU.

Students eligible for work study will receive an email message and also have an AidLink message posted from the Office of Financial Aid Scholarships starting the week of February 22, 2021.

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How to apply? 

  • Understand your eligibility and get assistance with the entire application process by signing up to talk to an Enrollment Specialist:
  • You can enroll on your own by visiting Using this link will allow you to get assistance, if needed, throughout the application process by connecting you to our CalFresh enrollment specialists.
  • Call 1-877-847-3663 to learn more about the CalFresh application process in your specific county.
  • Visit, call 2-1-1, or search for your local 211 organization in your county to receive CalFresh enrollment information and assistance.
  • If you are not residing in California, you can search the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) State Directory of Resources here:

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Are you experiencing immediate food insecurity?

For SDSU students experiencing immediate food insecurity, please submit a request to ECRT for assistance, or if you are already working with ECRT, please contact your ECRT representative.

If you are an SDSU or CSU student, the A.S. Food Pantry on SDSU campus is OPEN! For days and times, visit:

For a list of food resources, distribution locations, and other food services in the San Diego community, view our resource guide: