Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)

EBT Small Logo

What Is EBT?

Small EBT Card

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is part of the 1996 federal welfare reform entitled Personal Responsibility Work Reconciliation Act.  The act identified food stamp coupons as too expensive to manufacture, distribute, and destroy.  They also believed moving to an electronic system would reduce fraud.  All states were required to implement and be operational with EBT by October 2002.

EBT is the benefit delivery system that allows CalFresh, CalWORKs, and other program recipients to use a card, much like a debit card, to access their food and cash benefits.  Additionally, EBT cardholders are able to use their benefit cards for online purchasing at Safeway, Amazon, Walmart, and more.For additional information regarding online purchasing, please visit the EBT Online webpage.

EBT in California is run by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) with technical support through the Office of System Integration (OSI).  CDSS contracts with private vendors to run the technical operations of the program.  Each county determines benefit eligibility for applicants. Once determined, the county sends the eligibility information to the state EBT vendor where it is process and ultimately disbursed to recipients EBT accounts.

For more information, please visit The EBT Project.