Changes are Coming to CalFresh Benefits, What to Know and What Congress Can Do to End the Benefit Rollercoaster

Published on Sep 29, 2021 in CalFresh, Federal Advocacy

What changes can you expect?

Starting in October, almost all CalFresh households will see a modest increase in their benefits—the exact benefit amount will vary and will be determined by the household size, income, and allowable deductions.

Why are CalFresh benefits going up?

CalFresh benefit amounts are based on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which was recently updated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The release of the updated methodology fulfilled the congressional directive of the 2018 bipartisan Farm Bill to re-evaluate the TFP. The new changes, which better take into account the cost of a healthy diet, will significantly increase the purchasing power of CalFresh benefits. 

Why will Californians only see a modest increase in benefits? 

The change to the Thrifty Food Plan will increase the average CalFresh benefit amount by about 27 percent. But at the same time the additional benefits kick in, the pandemic-related 15 percent boost to CalFresh benefits will expire. Because the pandemic boost will end at the same time the changes go into effect, Californians will see a much more modest increase in their October CalFresh benefits.

Maximum CalFresh Allotment Comparison Table
CalFresh Maximum Benefit Comparison Chart 9.29.2021

The table above provides data on federal maximum household allotment levels from multiple sources, including for federal fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022. For additional information on the federal fiscal year 2022 benefit changes read the California Department of Social Services's recent All County Informaiton Notice

What additional changes are ahead?

During the pandemic, emergency allotments raised each California household's monthly CalFresh benefits to the maximum allowable based on the household's size. But the emergency allotments are temporary and will sunset when either state or federal pandemic health emergency declarations are no longer in effect. When the emergency allotments end, some households will be significantly impacted by the reduction of resources.

Californians rely on CalFresh to try to make ends meet, these unprecedented times will require continued robust investments, so Californians with low incomes have a fair shot at recovery. 

How can you help address the looming benefit cliff?

Right now, Congress is focused on the Build Back Better Act and passing a bipartisan infrastructure package. Once they are successful, they will turn their attention to many other investments and opportunities, including potential changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known in California as CalFresh). As they prepare for what is next, it is critical they hear from you what changes you would like to see. We encourage you to take action and tell your members of Congress to raise CalFresh benefits and help avert the impending benefit cliff. 

 “As millions struggle to keep food on the table during this pandemic, it is more critical than ever that we ensure access to healthy food, As a single mother raising two boys, I know the tough decisions that families face when paying for food and other necessities. SNAP was a bridge over troubled water to help feed my family, and the same is true for countless others.”

Barbara Lee, Congresswoman for the 13th district of California
On the need for greater access to our state's most powerful anti-hunger tool, SNAP

Take Action

4.3 million Californians rely on CalFresh to try to make ends meet. These unprecedented times will require continued robust investments.

Ask your members of Congress to prevent the looming benefit cliff and raise CalFresh benefits permanently.