CSAC Bulletin Article

Guidance for Processing CalFresh Applications Released

April 9, 2020

Last week, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) released an All County Welfare Directors Letter (ACWDL) providing guidance to County Welfare Departments (CWDs) on implementation of three approved federal waivers from the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The waivers requested by CDSS will provide flexibility for initial federal application requirements for California’s SNAP program, CalFresh. CSAC was supportive of these waiver efforts, which will help counties process the surge of new applications for CalFresh in a timely manner and meet the food assistance needs of county residents.

In response to an extreme uptake in CalFresh applications due to the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDSS received the temporary approval to waive the initial application interview, waive the recording requirement for telephonic signature when certain criteria is met, and waive the face-to-face interview requirement. For CWDs to waive the interview requirements CDSS instructs counties to accept any available documentation to verify an applicant’s identity. Additionally, at initial application, when an application is submitted over the phone or when a paper application is submitted without a signature, the federal requirement for an audio recording of a telephonic signature has been waived for CWDs when they do not have the method for a telephonic or other electronic signature and a wet signature has not been provided by the client.

California has requested other COVID-19 related flexibilities from FNS for CalFresh, child nutrition programs, and the WIC program. The FNS website has current information on the status of all COVID-19 nutrition related waivers California has requested.

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