EBT: A Solution for Balancing Finances

EBT: A Solution for Balancing Finances

Photo Credits: KIYOMI WATSON / AGGIE

Students discuss how CalFresh takes the financial pressure off them

CalFresh, also referred to as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), is a statewide program that allows individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle without having to worry about the often higher price of nutritious foods. Eligible students receive an EBT card, which is essentially a debit card with a monthly balance that helps students buy groceries. Students can get up to $192 per month from the government, which helps tremendously with their food bill.

This money can be used at most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Costco. The program can be applied to online and even has an office in the MU at which students can stop by and ask questions. Students are eligible for the service based on certain criteria, such as if they work more than 20 hours a week or have federal grants for tuition. 

The application includes an in-person or phone call interview, as well as forms that detail financial and personal expenses. The application takes about twenty minutes to complete, making it a viable option for even the busiest of students. If accepted, students need to reapply for the program every six months, to ensure that the benefits are going to eligible people.

Fourth-year statistics and managerial economics double major Mary Vang was directed to CalFresh by relatives and upperclassmen in the Hmong Club during her freshman year.

“As a college student balancing rent, utilities, insurance and other bills, I found EBT to be tremendously helpful because it took care of my finances for food,” Vang said. “I would say that it has positively impacted how I manage my college experience! It’s something less I have to worry about and allows me to focus more on my studies.”

Third-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major John Liu found out about CalFresh through Aggie Compass, the center for CalFresh in the MU. He discussed how the program allowed him to eat healthier and be more relaxed. Liu encourages students to apply. 

“I eat healthier for sure because it only works at grocery stores, so I actually cook my own food which is better for me than eating out,” Liu said. “I don’t have to worry as much about relying on my jobs to pay for my food, which lets me focus on schoolwork more. I still work to earn money, but I won’t freak out if I need to drop a shift to study for a test.”

Fourth-year cognitive science major Elsa Jimenez also found EBT to be incredibly helpful. She learned about the program through friends and applied online.

“UC Davis has an EBT representative on campus that is helpful to students who may not have access to the internet and can apply in person,” Jimenez said. “It’s been a huge relief and helps monthly, I no longer have to budget for groceries which is so nice. EBT has helped ease a lot of financial stress.”

Programs like CalFresh can help college students maintain a balance between schoolwork and a healthy life. By being aware of programs that can create an improved state of living, students are better able to maneuver both the stress and freedom that college generates.

Written by: Athena Aghighi — features@theaggie.org