CalFresh customers can now use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase nutritious food online from Amazon and Walmart, as California continues to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The CalFresh Program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used at many markets and food stores. The program helps to improve the health and well-being of qualified households and individuals by providing them a means to meet their nutritional needs. For every dollar of CalFresh money spent, $1.79 is generated in local economic activity, according to California Department of Social Services.

State officials began offering some online shopping access to CalFresh customers in late April. More than 265,000 people in Riverside County currently receive CalFresh benefits, which brought more than $30 million to local communities and retailers in April. Supplemental food benefits are also helping thousands of local families hit hard by pandemic job losses. Emergency allotments were recently issued to more than 70,000 Riverside County CalFresh customers, representing $12.6 million dollars.

“Essential, nutritious food can be purchased safely from home while stay-at-home orders are in effect,” said Allison Gonzalez, assistant director with DPSS’ Self Sufficiency Division. “The state is actively working to expand the number of stores that accept EBT online in the future.”

Both Amazon and Walmart are federally authorized Food and Nutrition Services retailers with the technology and oversight structures in place to support the statewide pilot as California works to build its list of online grocery retailers.

“I am glad to see technology utilized to support vulnerable residents in buying groceries online, adding one more option for safe shopping,” stated Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, chair of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

While customers can have their orders delivered, fees may apply for purchases less than $35.

Riverside County residents who have experienced a change in their circumstances and need additional help can apply for CalFresh at or by calling the DPSS Customer Service Center at 800-410-8827.

Since DPSS office locations remain closed to the public to limit further spread of COVID-19, we encourage customers to go online or call us to apply. More information on EBT online purchases can be found by clicking here.

Image Sources

  • Walmart: Shutterstock