CalFresh recipients receive benefits early due to federal shutdown


Contra Costa County began issuing benefits to CalFresh recipients for February today — more than two weeks early — due to the federal government shutdown.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called Food Stamps and currently called CalFresh in California, has advised that states release February benefits early using available funding, according to the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD).

In response, EHSD began issuing February benefits to eligible households today.

Kathy Gallagher, EHSD Director, urged CalFresh recipients to be “judicious in spending their February benefits since they will receive them so early.”

“In Contra Costa, there are nearly 30,000 ongoing CalFresh cases,” county officials said. “Most CalFresh recipients in Contra Costa will see February benefits loaded onto their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Jan. 15 and should understand that after that date they will receive no additional benefits for February 2019.”

As it is unclear how long the government shutdown will last, it is unclear whether CalFresh benefits for March will be available. An appropriation to fund SNAP (CalFresh) beyond Jan. 20 has not been received.  

“EHSD is awaiting further guidance and closely monitoring the situation in Washington DC, as the department continues working with the Board of Supervisors, the County Administrator, and partner organizations to ensure that all community members remain healthy, safe and secure,” the county said.

Here are more important details about the program, courtesy of EHSD:

Contra Costa County will issue the early benefit to these CalFresh households:                          

  • All that do not have an SAR-7 (Eligibility Status Report) or an annual recertification due in January 2019.
  • Those with a completed SAR-7 or recertification that the County fully processed by close of business on Jan. 14, 2019.

Existing CalFresh recipients who are required to recertify their eligibility in the month of January and who complete their recertification after Jan. 14, 2019, will have their benefits issued on or after February 1, 2019, if federal reserve funds are available. The same applies to individuals and families who apply for benefits on or after January 15, 2019.

EHSD will continue accepting and processing new CalFresh applications and expediting services for March as usual, and the EBT will continue to be operational. 

CalFresh recipients from Contra Costa County can find details about the early issuance of CalFresh benefits and the impact of the federal government shutdown on the program here