Extra pandemic relief food benefits set to expire
Tue, 21/02/2023 - 04:00
The additional emergency CalFresh food benefits that millions of Californians relied on to put food on the table during and after the pandemic are expiring soon.
For the past three years, Californians receiving CalFresh impacted by pandemic shutdowns qualified for extra benefits to supplement their monthly grocery budgets. Known as CalFresh emergency allotments, Riverside County households received an average of $192 in additional food benefits each month since March 2020.
The extra pandemic relief ends in February and the State will issue its final allotment on March 26. The change follows the end of the federal public health emergency and means approximately 165,279 households in Riverside County will no longer receive the additional emergency portion of their CalFresh food benefits, according to the state’s CalFresh data dashboard.
“The extra benefits have been a great help in providing our customers with nutritious food throughout the pandemic and during the recovery,” said Assistant Director Allison Gonzalez of the Self Sufficiency program at the county’s Department of Public Social Services. “The reduction in benefits may have a significant impact for some families. We urge customers to contact us with any changes to their household or income to ensure they receive all CalFresh benefits they are eligible for.”
Customers can contact the Department of Public Social Services at 1-877-410-8827.
Customers who qualify for CalFresh will continue receiving their regular monthly benefits, which are based on an individual or family’s household size, income, and deductions. Since the elimination of emergency CalFresh is due to a change in federal regulations, current CalFresh recipients do not need to take any further action.
CalFresh is the state’s largest food program and issues monthly electronic benefits which can be used to buy groceries at many stores, farmers markets, and online through retailers including Amazon and Walmart. Some recipients may use their CalFresh benefits to buy meals at participating restaurants.
County residents who need food assistance and not already receiving CalFresh are encouraged to apply by at BenefitsCal.com or by calling 1-877-410-8827. For additional support, residents can also go to local food pantries. To find the nearest one, please dial 2-1-1 or visit www.cafoodbanks.org/find-food. Anyone with questions about the end of the emergency allotments should call the California Department of Social Services outreach helpline at (888) 445-1955.