Most Contra Costa County CalFresh Recipients To Receive February Benefits Sooner Than Usual Due To Shutdown

January 16, 2019 10:00 am · 6 comments

Most current recipients and eligible applicants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, will receive monthly benefits for February more than two weeks early.

Due to the prolonged federal government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees SNAP, released guidance to states asking that they release February benefits early using available funding.

In order to serve CalFresh recipients within a reduced timeframe, Contra Costa County’s Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) has quickly moved to start issuing February benefits to eligible households on Tuesday, January 15.

The goal across the state is to deliver CalFresh benefits to 3.8 million Californians who are currently participating and known to be eligible for February.  In Contra Costa, there are nearly 30,000 ongoing CalFresh cases.  Most CalFresh recipients in Contra Costa County will see February benefits loaded onto their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards today, and should understand that after that date they will receive no additional benefits for February 2019.

“We are urging our CalFresh customers to be judicious in spending their February benefits since they will receive them so early,” said Kathy Gallagher, EHSD Director.  “They should ensure their funds last to serve their families’ food needs through the end of February.  We do not know how long the federal government shutdown will last, however we will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to share information about developments and impacts to the services EHSD delivers in support of community members.”

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 January 14, 2019.

Existing CalFresh recipients who are required to recertify their eligibility in the month of January and who complete their recertification after January 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.

The USDA issued instructions for states to implement the “early issuance” strategy because, due to the government shutdown, the agency had not received an appropriation to fund SNAP (CalFresh) beyond January 20.  A blanket waiver overriding a requirement that ongoing households receive CalFresh benefits on or about the same date each month allows states to issue February benefits early.  In California, benefits usually go out at the beginning of the month.  EHSD will continue accepting and processing new CalFresh applications and expediting services for March as usual, and the EBT will continue to be operational.

It is unclear how long the current shutdown will last or how it may further impact CalFresh and other human services programs in Contra Costa County should it continue beyond February.

Unless the federal shutdown is resolved, CalFresh benefits for March may not be available.

WC Resident January 16, 2019 at 7:03 PM

That is unfortunate as many of the people that need to use SNAP/CalFresh are also not good at budgeting. I expect many of them to use up their cards well before the end of February.

concord ygnacio January 16, 2019 at 10:28 PM

This is only your opinion. I had over $5,000 in CalFresh funds on my card at one point,.

Oh, please January 17, 2019 at 8:24 PM

Looks like someone is taking advantage of the system, then. If you have 5k on it, you obviously don’t need it.

Just me January 17, 2019 at 11:34 AM

WC Resident, It does not matter if you are good at budgeting, because the amount of SNAP/CalFresh funds that are given are not even close to the amount needed to feed your family for the month. The S in SNAP stands for supplemental.

concord ygnacio, If you had a balance of $5000 on your EBT, it was not that you were good at budgeting, it was that you did not need to have them. People like you getting over when you don’t need it, while some other families go hungry that do need it, are so wrong. I hope you have to pay back every CalFresh dollar you spent. And that would be paid back in CASH. That is welfare fraud!

Mary Fouts January 17, 2019 at 12:37 PM

SNAP/CalFresh is an important safety net program in dire need of revisions. (1) Beef up enforcement of fraud in the program. (2) Make the application process less intimidating or provide more in person help for people applying. I’ve read many times that a significant amount of people that could benefit from the program do not apply because of the difficult application process. (3) Overhaul the foods that are able to be purchased. Makes no sense to me that a person can buy junk-type foods such as sugary sodas and candy, but cannot purchase a nutritious hot rotisserie chicken to feed his/her family.

Just me January 17, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Mary Fouts, I agree. But the truth is that you can buy more sodas, Top Ramen, Mac n Cheese, white bread, hamburger meat, frozen and pizzas, etc. than juice, whole grains, lean cuts of meat, fresh fruits and vegetables. So you can either feed your family healthy food for a few days or junk food for a few weeks. A single parent with 1 child gets around $350 in food stamps per month. Not even $100 per week. You will shop at the dollar stores and discount stores.

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