Credit: Jackie Espitia | Mustang News, 2022

CalFresh recipients can now purchase hot foods from food stores and grocery stores that accept EBT until Feb. 20. 

CalFresh is a government program that gives recipients $281 per month to spend on groceries. 

The temporary hot food program started on Jan. 25 as a result of the presidential disaster declaration issued in reaction to the statewide flooding, which triggered a variety of emergency programs such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration). 

Disaster CalFresh is its own assistance program separate from CalFresh. Disaster CalFresh gives recipients who are not already on CalFresh a one-month stipend of CalFresh with an expedited approval process of seven days as opposed to the traditional two-week approval period.

Recipients of CalFresh can also fill out a form that will replace groceries and food that were lost in the flooding or respective disaster. CalFresh recipients will also continue to receive the 15% increase in benefits until the end of the month when the COVID emergency is lifted for federal SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) benefits and benefits will return to the regular $250.

The Feb. 20 cut-off was agreed upon by CalFresh and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), a federal agency that oversees SNAP benefits. The hot food waiver program will not remain permanent as it would raise questions as to what “the intent of CalFresh is” according to SLO Department of Social Services Program Manager.

“The intent of CalFresh is to supplement households that have some sort of food insecurity,” Robb said. “So, to get the most bang out of your Cal-Fresh-Buck … getting a hot prepared meal is not the most cost-effective way to feed your household.”

Those who may not have the ability or instruments to make a meal can participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) which allows recipients to purchase meals at restaurants. 

To learn more about how to sign up for CalFresh visit