Winter storms and flooding prompt additional food benefits for California families

by ZeuCer

MENDOCINO Co., 5/16/23 — Families in Mendocino, Mono and Madera counties who were financially impacted by severe weather between February 21 and March 22 may be eligible for disaster food benefits from CalFresh. Families and households that lost money or work due to storms may be eligible to apply, as well as households that had to spend money as a result of the disasters. Households that lost food because of power outages or evacuations may also be eligible. These one-time benefits could be as much as $939.

The deadline to apply, however, is Friday, May 19. Interested Mendocino County residents are encouraged to contact the county social services office by phone at 707-463-7700 or 877-847-3663. Applications can also be filed online at

Regular recipients of CalFresh are unfortunately not eligible for Disaster CalFresh benefits.

In addition, residents of 15 California counties including Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt, who are currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP\CalFresh) are able to use those benefits to purchase hot foods from any retailer that accepts them due to a temporary waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This waiver only applies through the end of the month, and usual restrictions on SNAP\CalFresh spending resume after May 31. For more information, check out the press releases below:

USDA Approves SNAP Hot Food Waiver for California Counties Due to Severe Storms and Flooding

SAN FRANCISCO, May 8, 2023 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a temporary waiver that will allow participants in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/CalFresh in impacted California counties to buy hot foods with their benefits through May 31, 2023.

Due to severe storms and flooding, and effective immediately, retail food stores licensed by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and located in the following California counties may accept SNAP benefits in exchange for hot foods and foods intended to be consumed on retailer premises: Alpine, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, and Tuolumne.

USDA emphasized the importance of the waiver, noting that many California residents evacuated to shelters cannot store food and lack access to cooking facilities as a result. Under normal circumstances, hot foods cannot be bought using SNAP benefits. SNAP authorized retailers have been notified of the approval.

USDA’s FNS is ready to consider additional waivers that may be needed to help program participants who have lost food due to the disaster and to simplify the application process for affected households, upon request from the California Department of Social Services. Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1. For more information about California SNAP, visit

FNS works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of more than 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit and follow @USDANutrition.

Here’s the press release about disaster benefits available to residents of Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties:


Disaster CalFresh Offered in Madera, Mendocino, and Mono Counties

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) today announced that individuals and families affected by the recent severe winter storms in Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties may be eligible to receive Disaster CalFresh food benefits as part of continuing disaster recovery efforts.

A family of four with a monthly income up to $3,130 per month may be eligible to receive up to $939 in food benefits through this program, which is available to those who lived or worked in Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties between February 21, 2023 – March 22, 2023.

Those who already receive regular CalFresh food benefits will not be eligible for Disaster CalFresh.

The Disaster CalFresh program will be operated by phone, online, and in-person.  Please call your local county social services office for in-person hours or in-person assistance.


To be eligible for Disaster CalFresh benefits, a household must have lived or worked in a disaster-impacted county on the date that the disaster began.  Any individuals and families who lived or worked within Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties between February 21, 2023 – March 22, 2023, may be eligible for Disaster CalFresh food benefits if the household experienced at least one of the following as a direct result of the severe winter storms:

  • At least one person in the household was not getting regular CalFresh food benefits,
  • Money was spent because of the storms or related power outage,
  • Money was lost from work because of the severe winter storms,
  • Money was spent because of damage to a home or business, or
  • Food loss alone.


Households may apply between May 15, 2023 – May 19, 2023, by calling their local county social services office, submitting a paper application, or submitting a pre-registration application online.  In most cases, Disaster CalFresh food benefits will be available within three days of the date of a qualifying interview.

Online pre-registrations will be available beginning May 13, 2023, and will be accepted in Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties at BenefitsCal.  Pre-registrations received May 13-14, 2023, will be considered as received on Monday, May 15, 2023.

Disaster CalFresh food benefits will be provided via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is like a debit card that can be used to purchase food items at grocery stores and other authorized retailers.  If applicants are approved, their county will tell them when and where to pick up their EBT card.

On May 10, 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture approved California’s request for Disaster CalFresh food benefits to enhance recovery efforts in Madera, Mendocino, and Mono counties.  The program is known nationally as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP.

Additional information is available at: CalFresh Disaster Response.


Clients may reach their local county social services office by calling 877-847-3663 (FOOD) for more information.  For more information about Disaster CalFresh for impacted counties, call your local county social services office:

  • Madera:  559-675-2300
  • Mendocino:  707-463-7700
  • Mono:  760-924-1770


Previously, CDSS announced the availability of Disaster CalFresh food benefits in other counties.  Most recently, CDSS announced the availability of Disaster CalFresh food benefits for those who lived or worked in San Bernardino County between February 21, 2023 – March 22, 2023.  The application period for that county closed on May 9, 2023.

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