CalFresh emergency allotments ending after government action

Pasha Fooman

Located in Novato, San Rafael and Point Reyes, Marin Health and Human Services offices all offer the CalFresh program (Photo courtesy of Marin HHS).

The CalFresh program, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides monthly financial assistance to low-income households. Those in the program can redeem benefits at select grocery stores, food distribution points and even some restaurants. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, CalFresh implemented new emergency allotments to combat the rising food insecurity brought on by the chaos of the pandemic.

For almost three years, these emergency allotments have allowed low-income households across the state of California to claim a minimum of $95 in additional benefits on a monthly basis. However, as the pandemic has come to an end, the government has slowly begun to decrease these allotments. Now, in March 2023, the final CalFresh emergency allotments will be issued as the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 officially ends these benefits.

A concern with the end of these allotments is how families will proceed without the additional income assistance that has been a saving grace over the past three years. San Francisco resident and CalFresh beneficiary Aspen Fernandez emphasized the usefulness of CalFresh emergency allotments these past years.

“I have [Supplemental Security Income (SSI)], so I’ve been on the allotments since [the COVID-19 pandemic]. It’s not just food [as] people think; CalFresh [supports] hospital bills and medical too, and with all the virus and my sensitivity to that, the extra money means a lot,” Fernandez said.

The versatility of the CalFresh program, with disability and childcare benefits, has softened the harsh blow dealt by constant global shutdowns and sickness. Due to the program’s varied benefits, it stands to reason that feelings of worry may accompany the end of emergency allotments as hard times continue.

he Nugget Market in Corte Madera is one of many grocery stores that allow the use of EBT cards to redeem CalFresh benefits (Photo courtesy of Nugget Market).

“For a lot of people, the coronavirus is done, but that doesn’t mean things are just going to be easy now. Coronavirus is ending and the allotments are ending, but what I have to deal with isn’t [easy],” Fernandez said.

There is a level of concern and unsureness with the ending of emergency allotments, as for residents like Fernandez, this income assistance has been a major asset in an unstable world. For some beneficiaries of CalFresh, however, the emergency allotments had to end eventually. Another local CalFresh beneficiary, Andre Scallan, has a different perspective on the impending termination of the emergency allotments.

“Well, the emergency benefits are just that: for emergencies. [The government] can’t really pay emergency money forever; it just can’t,” Scallan said.

Scallan also emphasized that while emergency allotments are ending, benefits will still be provided by the CalFresh program, just as they were before the onset of the pandemic.

Allowing users to redeem CalFresh benefits, EBT and P-EBT cards make use of emergency allotments (Photo courtesy of ABC7).

“Basically, what you get is an [Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)] card, and you use that at the store to spend the money from CalFresh. It’s the pandemic EBT part for COVID that’s ending soon, not CalFresh. That card isn’t going anywhere, and I can still use it where I normally would after the whole [emergency allotments program] ends,” Scallan said.

While the government’s announcement may trouble some, CalFresh will remain very much operational, just as it was pre-pandemic. Qualifying local residents will still be able to use the CalFresh balance on their EBT cards, albeit without the increased financial security offered with additional emergency allotment money. Any low-income households currently on pandemic EBT programs can continue to receive grocery benefits uninterrupted by applying for CalFresh as soon as possible.

To stay updated on CalFresh and related programs, refer to and