CalFresh was formerly known as Food Stamps. It is an entitlement program set in place by the U.S. government to help low-income households purchase food and maintain the right nutritional levels through monthly benefits. The amount given differs from state to state, with states such as California having a maximum allotment of $281 per person and roughly $939 for a four-person family.
Our article will look at some of the common questions in CalFresh interviews to help you prepare adequately if you qualify for the program. Use our responses to come up with unique answers. Let’s get started.
1. Tell Us About Your Current Living Situation
I live with my sickly mother and three children in a rented two-bedroom apartment in a low-income neighborhood. My mother uses one of the bedrooms, and I share the other with the kids. We have a small backyard where the children can play. The children also use the community playground to play with other children. I have to work two jobs to fend for the children and my sickly mother and barely make ends meet since they are minimum-wage jobs.
2. Are You Receiving Any Government Assistance At The Moment?
No. I am not receiving any government assistance at the moment. I didn’t need to apply for one since we could afford most things by combining incomes with my mother’s. However, things have been tough ever since she fell sick, as I have to fend for the family with my income. I will consider applying for housing assistance if situations do not get better in the near future.
3. How Much Do You Have In Debt Or Outstanding Bills?
We don’t have any debts or outstanding bills, as we paid everything on time when things were okay. We would combine all the money we got from our different jobs and budget for utilities such as rent, electricity, and water and leave the rest for other basic needs such as food and clothing. I had to cut down on some of our spendings when things got tough to ensure that we lived without incurring too much debt.
4. What’s Your Total Monthly Spending On Food?
I spend roughly $600 a month on food, given that I live with two kids and my sickly mother. It caters to household supplies, and groceries, and occasionally purchases special diets for my sickly mother. I also spend on occasional takeaways when I cannot make it back home to cook for the family, given that I have two jobs. I cook at home as much as possible to cut down the budget. Additionally, I normally look out for sales, especially on groceries.
5. Have You Ever Applied For Any Food Support Program Before?
Yes. I applied for food stamps when I was laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic, before which I didn’t need government support since I had a good job. My smallest child was only three years old, so I needed all the help I could obtain. When the pandemic ended, I moved in with my mother and started combining incomes and therefore stopped applying for food stamps. However, I am struggling to make ends meet again since my mother is bedridden.
6. How Do You Support Your Family At The Moment?
As I mentioned, I have two jobs. I work in a local burger shop which pays minimum wage, from 6 am- 1 pm, and then report to duty at a local clothing store from 2 pm- 7 pm, which also pays minimum wage. I occasionally work overtime on weekends when I find someone to look after the kids, usually a friend or a relative. I also tried online transcribing, which I found impossible, given my tight schedule.
7. Are You The Only Member Of Your Household With A Job?
Yes. I am the only family member with a job at the moment. My husband was laid off a while back and has been struggling to find a sustainable job. The rest are children who must be catered for. Despite having a job, I am struggling to make ends meet, a situation we managed to avoid when my husband had a job as we had joint utilities and monthly expenses accounts. My salary will only be able to sustain us for a short time since all the savings we have dried up.
8. Have You Or Any Of Your Household Members Been Charged With A Drugs-Related Offense?
No. We are law-abiding citizens with no criminal record. We have never been charged for any offense, let alone a drug-related one. No one in my household also does drugs as we are committed and practicing Buddhists, a religion that outlaws intoxicants. I’m confident you will confirm all these when you look up our records.
9. Do You Have Any Dependents?
Yes. I have five children who fully depend on me, given that the youngest is not yet eighteen. My husband died during the Covid-19 pandemic, and life has been one struggle after another since then. Despite all that, I could still fend for the family and keep the children comfortable since I had a well-paying job. However, I was laid off a few months ago, and things haven’t been rosy since I am still struggling to find a job. We’ve even had to move out of our house and downgrade to a 2-bedroom apartment where I share one bedroom with the two youngest children and the other three stay in the other bedroom.
10. Do You Have Any Medical Or Disability-Related Expenses?
Yes. My wife had to leave her job because of a chronic health condition that has worsened. Since I am the only provider, I have to find funds for regular medication and check-ups, which take up a large chunk of my monthly earnings. I also have a daughter who needs medication and regular doctor appointments because of a stubborn growth in her left leg which can’t be operated on at the moment. I barely have enough to pay rent and food after paying for all their medications; therefore, a little support would be great.
11. What Is Your Household’s Total Gross Income?
My household’s gross income is $2,300 a month, which comes from my wife since I am not employed at the moment and have little help getting a good job. I may chip in on some months with $1,000 or thereabout, which is not usually assured. Most of the money she makes is spent on rent, utilities, and paying medical covers for the kids, leaving us with less than enough to get through the month. I recently started working at a restaurant, but the wage is minimum and therefore caters to small daily needs.
12. Has Your Household Experienced A Change In Income Lately?
Yes. My wife recently lost her job after the company downsized, leading to a significant reduction in income. Situations have become even tougher since I also lost my job at the start of the year and therefore had to start working two jobs, after which we would pool our income and pay for expenses and utilities. The burden of catering for the family and paying for all expenses now lies squarely on me, and soon we’ll have to move to a smaller apartment unless we receive additional support such as CalFresh.
13. Do You Have Any Household Member Enrolled In A Job Training Or Education Program?
Yes. My spouse is currently enrolled in a job training program to help him find a stable job since he hasn’t been lucky since he was laid down during the pandemic. He has been taking classes to make him more skilled and improve his qualifications for consideration by employers. I, therefore, have to cater for 90% of the expenses in the house, which has become quite challenging, especially with a new addition to our family following the birth of our last born.
14. What Is The Total Amount Of Assets Your Family Owns?
We only have a few assets at the moment, as we had to turn to our savings accounts when things got tough. It has dried up first and currently stands at $3,000. We had a decent amount of stock investments and had to liquidate a significant amount after my spouse lost her job. At the moment, we only have stock investments worth $2,000. Lastly, we bought two cars before one of us lost a job, now valued at roughly $5,000. Our total assets, therefore, cost $10,000 or thereabout, at the moment, a value destined to spiral down further if things remain the same.
15. Are Any Of Your Household Members In The Military?
Even though I appreciate our military’s role in defending our country and keeping us safe from outside attacks, no one from my household has ever considered joining the armed forces. None of us is in the military, except for my brothers and extended family, who are not currently part of the household.
16. Does Any Member Of Your Household Receive A Pension Or Retirement Income?
We used to stay with my spouse’s mother, who received monthly pension income, but she has since moved out and is currently living in a different state. My husband is still young, doesn’t have a job, and does not receive or qualify for any pension income. We only rely on the money we make every month which has since become scarce owing to the significant reduction in income ever since my spouse lost his job.
17. Are You Or Any Members Of Your Household Experiencing Any Type Of Financial Hardship?
Yes. Times have been tough, and there has been no sign of things changing for the better ever since I lost my job. My spouse has to pay for almost all the expenses in our household since I am currently undergoing job training to improve my skills and qualifications, which should increase my chances of landing a job. We barely have enough to eat and survive the month once all the bills and medical expenses have been paid. A CalFresh benefit would therefore come in handy.
18. Are You Or A Member Of Your Household Dealing With A Mental Or Behavioral Issue?
I come from a family with a long history of mental health issues. I have therefore suffered from depression and anxiety for quite a long time to the point of being rendered unemployable at one point. However, I am currently in therapy and under medication, which has helped me manage my condition relatively well. My husband also developed anxiety disorders but got help relatively fast, learning to fully control his condition before it worsened. Overall, we are managing our conditions well and haven’t had any issues in a long time.
19. Is Any Member Of Your Household Pregnant?
Yes. I have a pregnant wife who is due to have our child in a couple of months, adding to the number of people in my household. Even though we had planned for the child, things took a drastic turn when the doctors discovered that one of our children had a chronic condition. We spent most of our money and savings on treatment and even had to liquidate some of our assets for her medication. My spouse lost her job shortly after, and things haven’t improved.
20. Are Any Of Your Household Members In School Or Vocational Training?
Yes. I am currently enrolled in a job training program sponsored by a local charity organization to help me improve my skills and qualifications and give me a shot at a job. I also have four kids in school; the eldest is in college and working towards his degree. The role of provision falls on my husband, who had to look for an extra job to make things work. Getting CalFresh benefits would therefore be a great relief for us.
21. Are Any Of Your Household Members Currently Experiencing Abuse Or Domestic Violence?
No. None of my household members is being subjected to abuse or domestic violence. I have a great spouse who has never laid hands on me or abused me physically or verbally. We solve most of our disagreements without fighting or shouting to set a good example for the kids. We have also raised our children without verbally abusing or physically hitting them and protected them from abuse. Regardless of the current financial hardship, we remain a peaceful family that condones any form of abuse or violence.
22. Are You Or Any Of Your Household Members Experiencing Or On The Verge Of Homelessness? How Is Your Housing Security?
Even though we are in a tough financial position, I am thankful we have a place to live. The money I make from working two jobs can pay for the apartment I live in with my three kids and a few utilities. The only problem is that we are left with barely anything to buy food and pay for other expenses once the rent and utilities are paid. Therefore, I have to work overtime during the weekends, which is quite challenging since I have to find someone to stay with the children until I return.
23. Are Any Members Of Your Household Receiving Alimony Or Child Support?
Not at the moment. I used to live with my sister, who received alimony from her ex-husband but has since remarried and therefore moved out. I am living with my old and sickly mother, whom I have to care for alone. I am unmarried with no children and do not receive any alimony or child support. Even though I make enough money to pay for our one-bedroom apartment, I have to work an extra job over the weekend to afford food and her medication. Qualifying for CalFresh benefits would therefore be a great relief.
24. Are Any Of Your Family Members Experiencing Any Legal Challenges Or Issues?
No. None of my family members is experiencing any legal challenges or issues at the moment. My spouse has never had any run-ins with the law and is always keen to remind the children never to do anything illegal. I have had no problems with the law, except for a few packing tickets I wasn’t responsible for. I also live with my spouse’s sister, who has no legal issues or challenges and has never had any problem with the law.
25. Are Any Of Your Family Members Experiencing Any Harassment Or Discrimination?
Fortunately, no. We live in an awesome neighborhood with kind and well-mannered people who are welcoming to everyone regardless of background, race or culture. Our kids play with other children at the community playground without any of them being sidelined, even though we just moved recently. Our only problem is a significant reduction in income owing to my spouse’s ill health, which this program can help us manage.
Even though you will most likely be asked only some of the above questions, it’s important that you adequately prepare for all of them. Note that you should only use our answers as guides to help you answer the above questions rather than as the correct responses since situations vary. We wish you all the best in your interview and hope you will be considered for the program.