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Food Stamps In Kern County: Eligibility, Types, And Resources

Written by: Dane Groves
Last updated: November 2, 2023

In the heart of California, Kern County stands as a testament to community resilience and support. As the economic challenges rise, ensuring that every resident has access to nutritious food becomes paramount. This comprehensive guide delves into the food assistance programs available in Kern County, from the intricacies of the CalFresh program to the innovative Healthy Restaurant Initiative. 

Whether you're a resident in need or simply seeking to understand the breadth of resources available, this article provides a detailed overview of the food stamps Kern County, eligibility criteria, types of benefits, and additional resources tailored for low-income individuals and families in the region.

Overview Of The Food Stamp Program In Kern County

The Food Stamp Program, also known as CalFresh in Kern County, is designed to assist low-income individuals and families in purchasing groceries. The program provides benefits that can be used at various food stores. These benefits are issued on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which functions similarly to a regular credit card. The amount of benefits an individual or family receives is determined by factors such as family size, income, and monthly expenses.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for food stamps Kern County, it’s important to first meet the eligibility criteria:

Overview Of Eligibility Guidelines

To be eligible for the CalFresh program in Kern County, applicants must meet certain criteria. These criteria are based on the individual's or family's income, resources, and household size. The program is specifically tailored to assist low-income individuals and families, ensuring they have access to nutritious food.

Documentation Necessary To Qualify For The Program

To apply for the CalFresh program, applicants must provide the following minimum documentation:

  • Name: The full legal name of the applicant.

  • Mailing Address: A valid mailing address where the applicant can receive correspondence related to the program.

  • Signature: The applicant's signature to verify the information provided.

It's essential to note that while these are the minimum requirements, additional documentation might be requested during the application process to verify the applicant's eligibility.

Application Process And Timeline For Approval

There are multiple ways for residents of Kern County to apply for the CalFresh program:

  1. Online: Applicants can sign in using an existing account or create a new one at and submit their application.

  2. Mail: Applications can be mailed to P.O. Box 511, Bakersfield, CA. 93302-9985.

  3. Phone: Interested individuals can call 661-631-6062 or the CAT line at 1-877-410-8812. The phone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm.

  4. Fax: Applications can be faxed to 661-633-7342.

  5. In Person: A drop box is available at any DHS office for application submission. These boxes are checked daily to ensure timely processing. Alternatively, applications are available at the door of all DHS offices from Monday to Friday, 7:30 am - 4:00 pm. Click here to find the nearest office.

Once the application is submitted, it undergoes a review process. The timeline for approval can vary, but applicants are typically notified of their status within a few weeks. If approved, the benefits are loaded onto an EBT card, which can be used to purchase groceries at participating stores.

Types Of Benefits Available

In Kern County, residents have access to a range of benefits designed to support their nutritional needs. These include the CalFresh program, which provides funds for groceries, the Restaurant Meals Program that allows certain eligible individuals to purchase hot meals from participating restaurants, and pet food assistance programs ensuring that even our furry friends are not left hungry. Each program has its own set of eligibility criteria and aims to ensure that all residents, regardless of their financial situation, have access to nutritious food options.

SNAP Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is a federal assistance program that provides eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. In Kern County, like in other parts of California, SNAP benefits are distributed through the CalFresh program. Recipients receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card and can be used at most grocery stores and some farmers' markets.

Hot Food Options In Kern County

For those who are homeless, elderly (60 years or older), or disabled, the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) allows CalFresh recipients to use their benefits to purchase lower-cost prepared meals at approved participating restaurants. This program is especially beneficial for those who may not have the means to prepare meals at home. As of September 1, 2021, the RMP has expanded to a statewide program managed by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Here are some of the restaurants in Kern County that accept CalFresh EBT:

  • Burger King: Multiple locations including Bear Mountain Blvd, Arvin, and Olive Dr, Bakersfield.

  • Denny’s: Locations on Rosedale Hwy and Gosford Rd, Bakersfield.

  • El Pollo Loco: Several locations in Bakersfield including Stockdale Hwy and California Ave.

  • Frosty King: Locations on Columbus St and Auburn St, Bakersfield.

  • Papa John’s: Locations on White Ln and China Lake Blvd, Bakersfield and Ridgecrest respectively.

  • Subway: Multiple locations in Bakersfield including Brundage Ln and Union Ave.

It's important to note that the list of participating restaurants may change, and it's always a good idea to check with the restaurant before making a purchase.

Pet Food Assistance Programs

Kern County Animal Services recognizes the importance of pets in our lives and the financial strain that some residents may face in providing for their furry friends. The Pet Food Safety Net program was initiated in 2020 in response to the hardships many pet owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was made possible through a grant from Maddie’s Fund and a donation from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Now, the program is supported by community members through their donations of dog and cat food.

The program offers assistance to unincorporated Kern County residents at the KCAS Bakersfield shelter on the last Sunday of every month, from 8 am to 12 noon. Some of the program's restrictions include:

  • A state-issued identification must be shown at the time of pickup.

  • Assistance can be provided for up to 4 animals.

  • Assistance can be provided up to six times, with at least 14 days in between each time of assistance.

  • Eligibility is determined at the sole discretion of Kern County Animal Services.

Additionally, the Bakersfield Pet Food Pantry provides emergency pet food for long-term pets on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. This service is available at 4500 Shepard, Bakersfield, CA.

Other Resources Available To Low-Income Individuals In Kern County

Kern County offers a variety of resources tailored to assist low-income residents. From free or low-cost grocery stores ensuring food security to initiatives promoting healthier food options at affordable prices, the county is committed to supporting its community. Additionally, various government agencies provide specialized food assistance programs, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their financial situation, has access to nutritious meals and essential resources.

Free Or Low-Cost Grocery Stores In Kern County

Kern County offers several resources for individuals and families in need of food assistance. One of the prominent organizations is the Golden Empire Gleaners, which provides the Senior Sack Program. This program offers low-income seniors aged 60 and above with two bags of groceries twice a month. To avail of this service, seniors need to register with a one-time $2.00 membership fee. For those interested, they can reach out to the program at (661) 324-2767 to find the nearest location.

Another significant resource is the Kern County Food Bank, operated by the Community Action Partnership of Kern. They distribute government surplus food to low-income individuals every month. To benefit from this service, individuals need to present a two-year pre-registration card along with their current address. This card can be obtained by showcasing a current food stamp card or by verifying one's income

For more details on the next distribution date, location, and other related information, individuals can contact the food bank at (661) 398-4520. The food bank also offers emergency food boxes for seniors and, in some cases, home delivery options.

Healthier Foods Offered At Lower Prices

The Kern County Department of Public Health has initiated a program called the Healthy Restaurant Initiative. Over the past five years, this initiative has seen 31 local restaurants offering healthier menu options. These establishments have collaborated with the Department of Public Health to provide what they term as "certified healthy foods." For instance, Nature's Food Market and Juice Bar in Bakersfield is one such establishment that offers a range of healthy foods, including organic fruits and vegetables sourced from local growers like Cal Organics. 

The Public Health's criteria for certifying a restaurant as healthy emphasize aspects like sodium content, calorie count, saturated fat, availability of vegetarian options, and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in menu items. The initiative aims to combat health issues prevalent in Kern County, such as diabetes, by providing healthier food options to the community.

Other Food Assistance Programs Available Through Government Agencies

In Kern County, the California Department of Aging (CDA) offers the Supplemental Food Assistance program. This program, in collaboration with Golden Empire Gleaners, Inc., provides the Senior Sack Program, which caters to low-income seniors. The program provides two bags of groceries twice a month for seniors aged 60 and above. A minimal one-time membership registration fee of $2.00 is required.

Additionally, the Kern County Food Bank, facilitated by the Community Action Partnership of Kern, distributes government surplus food to low-income individuals monthly. To avail of this service, individuals need a two-year pre-registration card and proof of their current address. This card can be obtained by presenting a current food stamp card or by verifying one's income. The food bank also offers emergency food boxes for seniors and some home-delivery options.

For those seeking more information about the Healthy Restaurant Initiative and the list of Kern County restaurants offering certified healthy menus, they can visit the Public Health's Certified Healthy Restaurant webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you better understand food stamps Kern County, we've answered some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is the CalFresh program in Kern County?

CalFresh in Kern County is the local implementation of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It's designed to assist eligible low-income individuals and families by providing them with electronic benefits that can be used to purchase groceries at various food stores.

How can I apply for the CalFresh program in Kern County?

Residents of Kern County have multiple avenues to apply for CalFresh. They can submit their applications online through the BenefitsCal website, send them by mail, make a phone call to the designated numbers, fax their applications, or personally drop them off at any DHS office in the county.

Are there restaurants in Kern County that accept CalFresh EBT?

Yes, Kern County participates in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), which allows certain CalFresh recipients, like the homeless, elderly, or disabled, to use their benefits to buy prepared meals from approved restaurants. Participating restaurants include chains like Burger King, Denny’s, and El Pollo Loco, among others.

What is the Healthy Restaurant Initiative in Kern County?

The Healthy Restaurant Initiative is a program spearheaded by the Kern County Department of Public Health. Its primary goal is to collaborate with local restaurants to introduce and promote "certified healthy foods" on their menus, ensuring residents have access to nutritious and affordable dining options.

Are there any programs in Kern County that assist with pet food?

Absolutely! Kern County Animal Services offers the Pet Food Safety Net program, which aims to support pet owners facing financial hardships. This program provides pet food assistance to eligible residents, ensuring that their furry companions are well-fed.

What other resources are available for low-income individuals in Kern County?

Beyond the CalFresh program, Kern County provides a plethora of resources for its low-income residents. These include free or low-cost grocery stores, the distribution of government surplus food, and various food assistance initiatives managed by both local and state government agencies.

Get Food Assistance With Food Stamps Kern County

Kern County's commitment to ensuring food security and promoting healthier food choices for its residents is evident in the myriad of programs and initiatives available, such as food stamps Kern County. From the CalFresh program to the Healthy Restaurant Initiative, the county provides a holistic approach to addressing the nutritional needs of its community. Whether you're a resident seeking assistance or someone looking to understand the resources available in Kern County, this guide offers a comprehensive overview. Remember, in times of need, the community stands together, and Kern County is no exception.

Discover more food assistance programs by reading our comprehensive guide to navigating the application process for food stamps Alabama. Visit Gov Relations to find more information and browse through the available resources.

Dane Groves
Dane Groves is the senior writer of Gov Relations. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from National University. During Dane’s whole five years with the company, he has helped train and guide new writers. Dane works closely with Dulcie to ensure that new writers are able to produce content that is of high quality and engaging, relevant, and informative to readers.
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