Why California Students Should Apply for CalFresh


For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen multiple hungry college student memes appear on every surface of the internet. Unfortunately, it’s not that funny when there are actually students who have to pick between paying tuition and buying groceries. At my own school, UC Riverside, 62% of students are food insecure. That’s more than half. Meanwhile, 42% of students in the UC system overall have the same struggle.

I could have been one of these students, and I would be eating more cup noodles and junk food to feel full, but I applied to CalFresh and got accepted. Because of CalFresh, I can use my EBT card to buy groceries without having to cut into my rent money.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)


The Application Process

You can apply on their online website where you will be prompted to upload a few documents regarding your income and financial aid. Then it tells you that you will be called to be interviewed in a few days. Sometimes, it is a few days. Sometimes, it’s a few weeks. They took over a month to reach me while some of my friends got a call in two days. You also have to option to walk in if you’re more comfortable with that.

They call whenever they’re in office hours so be attentive to any calls you may get. I got my call at 8AM and was lucky that I happened to be awake that day. The interviewer asks you questions about your income, about your financial aid, and a few other things.

My agent told me that if you have Cal Grant A, you automatically qualify to get $194 in food stamps once a month. I receive Cal Grant A, so I was able to get my EBT card after sending back a packet they sent in the mail. 

The biggest advice I can personally give people is that instead of trying to get the “letter” proving that you Cal Grant A from your financial aid office, just sign the waiver in the packet that gives someone from Cal Grant A permission to get that information from the school. That way, you can mail back your packet as soon as possible.


Do I Really Need It?

I didn’t think I would need it that much, either. But honestly, I’m so relieved that I have it. I have $194 that only goes towards food, and I can use the rest of my money towards my utility bills. If you also depend on your parents, it helps them know that you’re well-fed.

Going to the grocery store is part of being an adult, and it’s honestly fun to go to your local Food 4 Less to get ingredients to cook with your friends.

(Photo courtesy of Unsplashed)


What Can I Buy?

Anything you can eat or cook with, EBT will pay for it. There are a few exceptions that are listed online. Even if you don’t cook, you can learn now. You ever spend 30 minutes watching recipe videos on Instagram? You can make it now that you can get the ingredients with EBT. Ask your parents for the recipe for your favorite dish. You’ll be able to cook for them when you go back home next time. 

EBT even pays for junk food like chips and ice cream but don’t forget to buy yourself some fruits as a healthier snack. College kids really do need all the energy they can get.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)


Overall, apply for CalFresh now! The process can get super complicated for some people, especially those that are employed, but don’t get discouraged. It’ll be worth it in the long run for both your pocket and your stomach.