Food Stamps

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A government program called "Foods Stamps" offers coupons you can exchange for food, so that you and your family will not go hungry. Many people who qualify for food stamps do not get them because they don't think they qualify, are embarrassed, or do not know how to apply. If you need food, you should apply; everyone deserves to have enough to eat.

Later this year, the paper coupons called food stamps will be replaced with a plastic card that you will use at the grocery store checkout counter, or at the Certified Farmers' Market. The program will still be called "Food Stamps"

Almost every food store and Certified Farmers' Market will accept food stamps. Authorized meals-on-wheels and group meals programs may also accept food stamps. They can be used to purchase any food item except hot foods that are meant to be eaten immediately. You can also use them to buy seeds to grow your own food. Food stamps cannot be used for non-food products such as soap or diapers.



Each month you get help to buy food. The highest (maximum) amount your household can get is listed on the chart in the next column. Most people do not get the maximum amount.


General Eligibility
To get food stamps, you must be a U.S citizen or a legally immigrated non-citizen - page 58 Guide for Non-Citizens" You must also meet the limits on your income and resources. You don't have to have a home or a place to cook to get food stamps.

Some persons do not qualify:

  • SSI recipients in California cannot get food stamps because a food allowance in included in the SSI grant.
  • If you are convicted of a drug related felony for conduct occurring after August 22, 1996, you will be permanently ineligible for food stamps. You can be permanently disqualified from the program if caught selling food stamps worth over $500.
  • Strikers and their families are usually kept out of the program, unless they meet the income limits one day before the strike. Employees who honor a picket line of another union, who are laid off as a result of the strike, or who are locked out are not considered strikers and may be more likely to qualify. Union community service stewards have detailed food stamps regulations.

Special Rules for Students

Some full time students can't get food stamps. Students between the ages of 18 and 50 who are enrolled at least half-time in a program of higher education can get food stamps if they are doing any one of the following:

  • Enrolled in CalWORKs
  • Working at least 20 hours per week
  • Receiving a work-study grant
  • Responsible for the care of a dependent child under age 12 if a full-time student
  • Responsible for the care of a dependent child age 6 to 11 where no adequate child care is available.
  • Going to school through the Job Training Participation act(JTPA)

If the student doesn't meet any one of these requirements, the other people in the home can still get food stamps even though the student can't

If You Get Free Meals

If you do not pay for any of your meals, you may not be able to get food stamps. Even if you don't prepare your meals, however, you may be able to get food stamps, if you live in a non-profit shelter for domestic violence or homeless people, a drug or alcohol treatment facility, a federally-funded housing for the elderly, or a group home for the disabled or blind. Residential facilities can sometimes collect your food stamps from you if they use them to feed you.


The term "household" has special meaning in this program. It does not mean you have a house. A "household" can be one person who lives alone, or it can be a group of persons, related or unrelated, who live in the same place. There is no limit to the number of "households" that can be in the same home. If each "household" buys and prepares their own food separately from the other households, they are a "separate household".

Some relatives who live together must be included in the same household, even if they do prepare their meals separately. These are:

  • Your immediate family-you, your spouse, your children age21 and under
  • Your parents and you(unless you are over 21)
  • Those who are acting as parents for a child under 18, unless the child in is foster care.

Relatives who can be considered separate households even if they live in the same place include:

  • Parents living with their adult children(over 21)
  • Adult brothers and sisters.

Teen parents who reach the age of 19 and are taken out of their own parents' CalWORKs case are still eligible for food stamps. The parents' income must be counted, but the food stamps should not just be cut automatically-call Legal Aid if this happens.

Income that doesn't count ("deductions") includes:

  • Money for someone who is not in your food stamp household
  • Money earned by children 17 and under who go to school at least half-time
  • Reimbursements or advances
  • Money paid for you to a third party by someone who is not legally obligated to pay you, (for example if your grandparent pays your rent directly to the landlord)
  • All loan, including most educational loans
  • Federal government payments to help you pay energy bill or for emergency heating and cooling installations.
  • "Earned Income Tax Credit" for one full year after you get it
  • CalWORKs homeless assistance money
  • Foster care payments(when the foster children are not part of the food stamp household)
  • Agent Orange Settlement Fund payments.

Resource and Property Limits

In addition to meeting the income limits, your household may not have certain resources ("assets") worth more than $2000. If a member of the household is age 60 or over, or disabled, this limit is $3000.

How Do I Apply?

Call (877)597-4777 for information on the food stamp program and the nearest location to apply. You normally apply at a DPSS office but a few alternative locations such as health clinics have been approved.


You may be eligible to get food stamps within 3 days if one of the following applies:

  • You can't pay your rent, mortgage payment or utilities because your monthly income and cash-on-hand is to little
  • Your gross income is less than $150 per month and the money you have on hand or in the bank is less than $100

To apply for emergency food stamps, you only need to sign and date the application and statement of facts. The worker will ask for your proof of identity, residence, income, and resources, but you cannot be denied for not having these documents with you.

There are many ways to prove your identity, including your driver's license, a sworn statement, a phone call to someone who knows you, a library card, or a letter addressed to you.

If your case is approved, DPSS must give you a yellow Temporary Issuance Card (T.I.C.) no later than the third calendar day after you apply so you can pick up your food stamp coupons. If the third day falls on a weekend or holiday, you have the right to receive your food stamps on that Friday, or the last workday before a holiday. If you apply after the 15th you will get the stamps for that month and your next month's stamps.

Non Emergency

Application: You have the right to apply in your own language and to turn in a written application on the day you go in. You will only get benefits as of the date you turn in the application. If someone tells you to come back without submitting the application, you may insist on filing an application.

Fill out the application form as completely as you can, circling the numbers of the lines where you cannot answer or need help. Turn the application in and wait to be seen or make an appointment to see an eligibility worker. If you are not seen in a half-hour, go to the reception desk and ask for the Customer Services Representative.

You can call toll-free (877)597-4777 to have an application mailed to you, fill it out and send it in by mail, or have someone lese turn it in for you. You will still have to be interviewed.

Interview: You may bring someone along to help you. You may be asked to sign a form making them your "authorized representative." You will go over the application you filled out and will be asked for additional information.

You should be given a list of documents that you will need to complete the application process. You may be given a "return appointment" to turn in the documents. If you do not have all the necessary documents, you or someone you know may sign a statement explaining why not.

You may be able to receive benefits while you continue to gather the required information. The eligibility worker should help you get some of your missing papers.

If everyone in your household is disabled or over 65 you may request either that an eligibility worker be sent to your home at a time you agree to or that you be interviewed by phone.

A worker may also visit or phone you if no adult in your household can go to the office for good reasons such as illness or disability.

Fingerprints: To get food stamps, all adults and teen 18 and older, and an adult getting food stamps for children even if not for the adult, must be fingerprinted. If you are scheduled for fingerprinting at a later day that will not work for you, explain and request another time.

Nest steps: Keep in touch with your DPSS eligibility worker. Write down your worker's mane, phone number, and phone hours. If you are asked to mail additional papers to the welfare office, ask the worker for a stamped envelope addressed to him or her. If you take in papers, get a receipt.

Keep your own copy of all the paper work. If you need help and your worker is not available, the duty worker or a supervisor must help you.

Within 30 days of your applying, the welfare office must either mail you a food stamp identification card and a notice of approval or inform you in writing that you do not qualify and the reason why.

The notice of approval tells you how long you are eligible(usually a "certification period" is 12 months) and how much the benefit is worth.

At present you will also receive a Permanent Issuance Card(P.I.C.) that you(or your representative) take to an outlet on your appointed day each month to get food stamps.

Changing to EBT: Later this year the P.I.C and the monthly Food Stamp coupons will be replaced with the new "EBT" or electronic benefits card to use at stores. The value of "Food Stamps" aid will be automatically added to the card on the first day of the month. The new card is called the "California Advantage Card." There will be no charge for the first four "swipes" of the card each month. Then there will be an 85cent charge each use.

If you are denied food stamps, and believe you are eligible, request a hearing or call a legal aid organization. Any time your income, expenses or other circumstances change, tell your worker.

What Requirements Do I Face?


On the first day of every month DPSS mails you a "CW-7" report form. You must fill it out and turn it in showing any changes in income or members of the household or address. You must turn it in even if there is no change from the previous month. If you don't get the "CW-7" in the mail you must go to the DPSS to get another and fill it out.

The completed form is due back to DPSS on the fifth day of the month. It is best to fill it out, take it to DPSS, and get the dated receipt to prove that you turned it in, rather than trust in the mail. It can be mailed, however. Be sure to include pay stubs, bills and receipts to verify your information. It is wise to keep a copy of every paper you give to DPSS.


Also, you must be reviewed for benefits each year before the end of your certification period to your food stamps will be cut off. You will receive a letter that tells you the application for this review is due. Be sure to complete this on time so you can continue you receive food stamps without a break.

Los or Stolen Card of Stamps

If your P.I.C. (white plastic) card is stolen, destroyed, or lost in the mail, report this to the welfare office immediately. The welfare office can cancel the lost P.I.C. (so no one else can use it to get your food stamps) and give you a new one. Lost or stolen food stamps cannot be replaced, but destroyed stamps can be replaced.

▣ Food Stamp Benefit Issuance Chart

The value of your Food Stamps depends on the size of your eligible household and the other eligibility factors mentioned above, so we can't give you an exact answer here. But your Eligibility Worker will figure it out and tell you.

▣ Documents that may be required

  • Copies of birth certificates or proof of immigration status, Social Security Card, Proof of Income (such as a paycheck, letter from an employer indicating the amount and frequency of pay, copy of federal income tax 1040 form), Resource or Assets (such as most recent bank statement, car registration)

▣ What is the application process?

  • Make an appointment with the local DPSS office in person or by phone 877-597-4777.
  • Have all your paper works ready for an appointment and when you meet DPSS representative, fill out the application.
  • Employable are participants with no medical conditions that would prevent employment. They continue to comply with GROW (1-888-368-8288) requirements. Unemployables are participants who have one or more medical conditions (temporary or permanent) affecting their ability to work. GR benefits are not time limited for unemployables.
  • You need to submit a report every month with CA7, CW7, or SAWS7 before the 5th of every month. If the report is not submitted on time the aid will discontinue. Be sure to keep the receipt when you submit the report. If you are moving, being away for lengthy time, or your income has increased, you need to notify the change to DPSS office. If you were denied for the aid, or mistreated, you can appeal.

For income eligibility guidelines, please contact the Korean Resource Center at 323. 937. 3718.

▣Directory of Local offices for more information.

LA County

    Wilshire Special  2415 6th St, Los Angeles    213-738-4311
    Metro North  2601Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles   213-639-5176
    Norwalk  12727 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk 562-651-2536
    San Fernando 12847 Arroyo St., Sylmar  818-837-6393
    Glendale 4680 San Fernando Rd., Glendale 818-546-6286

Orange County

    2020 W Walnut Street, (First St & Walnut St) Santa Ana 92703 Phone 714-834-8892

Riverside County

    Magnolia Ave. Riverside Phone 951-358-3400

San Diego County

    7947 Mission Center Phone  619-531-4703
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