Sonoma County, CA — On June 1, seniors and persons with disabilities on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Supplemental Security Payment (SSP) are newly eligible for CalFresh government food benefits that can help increase their monthly food budgets. SSI or SSP benefit amounts will remain unchanged for these new CalFresh clients.
“This is the first time that residents on SSI or SSP have been eligible for CalFresh nutrition benefits since the program started,” says Sonoma County Human Services Department Economic Assistance Division Director Felisa Pinson. “The ability to purchase healthy amounts and types of food will improve their basic quality of life and health.” SSI and SSP are needs-based programs that provide monthly stipends to residents who are blind, elderly or have a disability.
In Sonoma County, an estimated 3,500 low-income households may be affected. Nearly 30,000 low-income residents already receive monthly CalFresh benefits. Benefits for one-person range from $15-$192 per month.
The County will contact households that already receive CalFresh Food benefits about adding someone with SSI or SSP at the time of their next mid-year report or recertification. They do not need to re-apply or contact Economic Assistance.
Households new to CalFresh can apply online, by phone or in-person at the Economic Assistance office in Santa Rosa and the Human Services South County Center in Petaluma.
New households or individuals can apply for CalFresh benefits in three ways:
Online: GetCalFresh.org, which is authorized by the California Department of Social Services
In-Person: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., at Economic Assistance, 2550 Paulin Dr., Santa Rosa, or the HSD South County Center, 5350 Old Redwood Highway North, Suite 100, Petaluma
By Phone: (877) 847-3663 (FOOD). Information is offered in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Russian, Vietnamese and Korean. Your call will be routed to the local Economic Assistance office.
Economic Assistance staff members are prepared to field a surge of calls and visits from new applicants. “We project that our phone and offices will be extra busy this summer with new CalFresh applicants,” says Pinson. Adult & Aging Division In-Home Supportive Services social workers can also help their clients with SSI or SSP to apply for CalFresh benefits.
After applying, residents must complete an eligibility interview in-person or by phone, and may need to provide more information about their household situation.
CalFresh clients receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a bank debit card, to use at participating grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Funds are added once a month, and the cost of food purchased is then deducted.
The Economic Assistance Division is part of the Sonoma County Human Services Department. Its programs support low-income individuals and families with children, disabled or unemployed persons, children in foster homes and former foster youth. Its programs include:
• help to buy food through CalFresh, the statewide program that is part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
• health care coverage (Medi-Cal, County Medical Services Program and Covered California) and
• short-term help with rent, utilities and more through the General Assistance Program.