The coronavirus outbreak has made it harder to get and afford groceries and prepared meals. If you or someone you know needs help getting food, here are some resources available to you.
Emergency food and food benefits
CalFresh food benefits
CalFresh provides food benefits to help people buy most foods at most grocery stores and farmers markets. People and families with low income can apply for CalFresh any time. If you have a change in income, even a temporary one because of the coronavirus, you can apply for CalFresh food benefits.
CalFresh benefits (sometimes called SNAP or food stamps) are issued on an EBT card each month. This card can be used to buy groceries online at Amazon and Walmart. See frequently asked questions about using EBT online.
Local food banks and pantries are open and operating across California. Find a local food bank near you.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food benefits
WIC helps families get access to healthy foods and a lot more. WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and benefits for healthy foods. WIC can also help with finding health care and other community services.
WIC serves babies and children up to age 5, pregnant women, and new mothers. Parents, grandparents, foster parents, or guardians can enroll children up to their 5th birthday. Working families and migrant families are welcome to apply too.
If you recently lost your job because of the coronavirus, you can apply for WIC. You can also apply if your income has changed or you are unable to work, even temporarily due to COVID-19. Find out if you qualify at MyFamily.WIC.ca.gov, or call 1-888-942-9675 (1-888-WIC-WORKS) for more information. WIC locations have procedures to get you WIC benefits quickly, even when closed to the public. Please call before visiting.
Families with school-aged children
School meals and the ‘CA Meals for Kids’ app
The CA Meals for Kids app can help students and families find meals during COVID-19 emergency school closures.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)
Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school can get extra benefits to help buy food when schools are closed due to COVID-19. These food benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT. Families can use P-EBT benefits to buy food at most grocery stores and farmers markets, and to buy groceries online at Amazon and Walmart.
Families can get up to $365 for each child who is eligible for P-EBT benefits. The total amount depends on how many eligible children are living in your home. Students can still pick up to-go meals even if they are receiving P-EBT benefits.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits are available for eligible families starting May 2020. If you don’t get a P-EBT card in the mail, you must apply online by June 30, 2020. If you didn’t get a P-EBT card in the mail and don’t apply by June 30, 2020, you won’t be able to get P-EBT benefits.
- Families who get CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits don’t need to apply. Most families will get their P-EBT card in the mail. If you haven’t received your P-EBT card, you may need to update your current address. Call the EBT Customer Service Center at 1-877-328-9677. Don’t apply online.
- Families who applied for CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits after their school closed will get their P-EBT card in the mail before June 30, 2020.
- Families who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and don’t get CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits must apply online before June 30, 2020. The online application is available now at ca.p-ebt.org.
Great Plates Delivered: Home meals for seniors
Seniors and other adults at high risk from the coronavirus will soon be able to get daily meals delivered to their homes from local restaurants through this program. Check Great Plates Delivered (formerly known as Restaurants Deliver) for information and updates.
Home-delivered meals for older adults
Older adults (aged 60+) who live at home and find cooking difficult may be able to receive prepared meals delivered to their home, regardless of income level. And seniors who used to visit community meal sites can have those meals home-delivered instead.
To find more information about services available for older adults, adults with disabilities, and family caregivers, see the California Department of Aging or call the California Aging and Adult Info Line at 1-800-510-2020.
To connect with more services and support in your local area, visit Find Services in My County.
Food bank food for older adults
Older adults (aged 60+) can get a box of nutritious food to help supplement their diets through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). The listed Food Banks are distributing the CSFP boxes. Please call the listed food bank in your area for more information on how you can participate in the program.
Statewide COVID-19 information hotline
This COVID-19 hotline connects seniors to vital state and local services and resources, as well as answers general questions about COVID-19. It’s a part of an ongoing effort to provide reliable, trusted information and support to any Californian who needs it.
California COVID-19 Hotline: 833-422-4255 (833-4CA-4ALL)
The call center is open 7 days a week:
- Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time
- Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time
211 is a free and confidential information and referral service that connects people to local resources. It is available in more than 100 languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A program of the AARP Foundation, Connect2Affect helps seniors find support services in their area, such as food and medical care.
The site also has tools for evaluating isolation risk, reconnecting to community, and reaching out to those who may be feeling lonely.
GoGoGrandparent is a paid service that people can use to order meals and groceries for home delivery with a phone call. You don’t need a smartphone to use it. To sign up, call 1-855-754-5328 or register online.
Once registered, you can get delivery from most local grocery stores and restaurants. If you must leave your home and need transportation, you can also use GoGoGrandparent to get a ride. To keep your family and loved ones notified, add their contact information to your GoGoGrandparent account. They will get a text message with details about the driver and the car, and when the ride started and ended.
You can speak to a GoGoGrandparent operator 24/7 at 1-855-464-6872.
Grocery delivery options
Walmart grocery delivery service
Walmart grocery delivery service lets you shop online and schedule a drop-off to your home. Find a Walmart near you to schedule a grocery delivery.
Target same day delivery
Target same day delivery service lets you shop online or through their app to purchase groceries and supplies to be delivered to your home. Find a Target that delivers in your area.
Safeway lets you choose a delivery time for drop-off to your home. Find a Safeway that delivers in your area.
You can use TaskRabbit to find immediate help with everyday tasks, including food and pharmacy delivery. A 5% discount for seniors is available. Visit the TaskRabbit website or download the free app for your smartphone from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store.
Many other retailers and grocery stores have delivery options. Please check with your preferred store to find out if they deliver.
How you can help
Many programs are redirecting food that would otherwise go to waste to help feed children and families during the COVID-19 crisis. Some accept cash and surplus food donations.
- The California Association of Food Banks’ (CAFB) Farm to Family Program works with farmers, ranchers, packers, and shippers to get California farm products from the field to 40+ food banks throughout the state. You can donate money or surplus crops through the CAFB website.
- Hidden Harvest is a produce recovery program in Coachella Valley. Contact them to donate money or volunteer.
- Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States and is accepting cash donations to their COVID-19 Response Fund.