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Food Stamps

General information

Food stamps are also known as the benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income individuals and families gain food security (regular access to food). In California, SNAP is known as the CalFresh Program (California Department of Social Services, CalFresh Program). Food insecurity can impact health; nutrition is known to have a strong relationship with preventable diseases and mental health (Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, Applying Social Determinants of Health Indicator Data for Advancing Health Equity: A Guide for Local Health Department Epidemiologists and Public Health Professionals).

Key Findings

  • 6,438 households in San Mateo County, or 2% of households receive CalFresh.
  • Neighborhoods with the highest percentage of households on CalFresh are located in South San Francisco, San Mateo, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto.
  • Neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of households on CalFresh are located in Hillsborough, Belmont, San Carlos, Atherton, Woodside, and Portola Valley.


  • Data were obtained from U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates at American FactFinder. 
  • Data were mapped using ArcGIS for Desktop.
  • Data included all households.


  • The percentage of households using CalFresh may not accurately reflect the percentage of households that are eligible for and in need of the program.
  • Approximately 295,000 households are selected to participate in the annual American Community Survey, or less than 1 percent of all households in the U.S. 
  • Data were estimates based on survey responses, and not actual counts.  
  • Estimates have some chance of error.