Income Support

Food and Income Support Caseloads continue to Decline

Public income support and food subsidies provide a critical safety net to those living in or at risk of poverty. These supports can work against the negative pressures of poverty, including the stress and strain on family relationships that can result from the challenges of paying for basic needs. To assess the demand for these services, this indicator measures caseloads of two core public assistance programs, CalWORKs and CalFresh.

Income Support Piggy Bank

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

CalWORKs and CalFresh Average Caseload

San Bernardino County, 2014-2018
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Note: Annual caseloads are from September to October each year.

Source: San Bernardino County Human Services

CalWORKs and CalFresh caseloads continued to decline in 2019:

  • After peaking in 2016, CalFresh caseloads fell for the third consecutive year, dropping from 178,986 cases in 2016 to 150,863 cases in 2019.
  • This represents a decrease of 16% from 2016 to 2019.
  • CalWORKs caseloads have also continued to decline, dropping 28% in five years, from 49,731 cases in 2015 to 35,757 cases in 2019.
  • While San Bernardino County is home to 4.8% of Californian’s household, 7.7% of the 1.29 million California households receiving cash public assistance or CalFresh reside in San Bernardino County.1
  • Most CalWORKs recipients are children (82%) and just under half of CalFresh recipients are children (48%)
  • Veterans make up only 1% of CalFresh recipients and even fewer (less than one-half of a percent) of CalWORKs recipients.

San Bernardino County Ranks 7th for Access to CalFresh

The California Department of Social Services calculates the percent of eligible people who are accessing CalFresh – in other words, the reach of the program. This calculation is called the Program Reach Index. San Bernardino County has a very high Program Reach, at 94% in 2017, and is 7th among California’s 58 counties.

Source: California Department of Social Services, CalFresh Data Dashboard

CalFresh Program Reach Index by County

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Program Descriptions

CalWORKs provides cash benefits for the care of low-income children.

CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) provides low-income households with assistance for the purchase of food.

Most programs require income and asset limitations, as well as citizenship or permanent legal resident status. Other eligibility factors may apply such as county or state residency, age, or time in the program (time-limits).

Enrollment in CalWORKs by Age

San Bernardino County, 2017/18
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Enrollment in CalFresh by Age

San Bernardino County, 2017/18
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12017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B19058 ( 2To calculate the PAI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses a formula that excludes certain groups that receive other benefits. The formula is available at