How can undocumented immigrants apply for food stamps in California?
Learn about the assistance program that would allow currently ineligible undocumented immigrants to apply for food stamps in the state of California.
The federal government has several food aid programs, one of the main ones being the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. This provides low-income families with benefits to buy food using an electronic benefits transfer card.
Despite being a federal program, SNAP is administered by the states. In the case of California, this program is known as CalFresh; and just like the SNAP plan, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for this benefit.
However, last year, the California government filed an extension for undocumented immigrants to be eligible for food stamps, through the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The food stamp plan for undocumented immigrants in California
California aims to provide state-funded CalFresh food benefits through the CFAP to non-citizens who do not qualify for federal benefits.
According to the news organization CalMatters, the budget bill that the state legislature passed included a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow immigrants age 55 and older, who are currently excluded from food stamp programs, to be able to receive the benefits.
Although currently, the program only includes immigrants with legal immigration status, the CFAP extension has been proposed to allocate funds to begin “the automation and implementation of future age-based expansions of CFAP eligibility for immigrants who are excluded from CalFresh based solely on their immigration status”, says the California website.
The legislature finalized a 2022-23 budget in 2022 that includes $35 million to prepare for this expansion, which may increase to $113.4 million for 2025-26. According to CalMatters, it could take several years for benefits to reach all eligible immigrants.
CFAP benefits are issued through the same channels as federal CalFresh benefits, so they would have the same eligibility requirements, except for verification of immigration status.
According to the California government portal, undocumented immigrants over 55 years of age or older interested in qualifying for this program should take note of the CFAP implementation date, as it is not yet possible to start an application at the moment.
For more information, visit the California government website.