Inflation relief debit cards to be sent out to Californians starting today
Thousands of Californians who rely on food banks or other financial institutions for payment will be able to use their existing Visa card to purchase food from supermarkets and small businesses as early as Friday.
The program designed by the state Department of Social Services will allow people who earn less than about $160,000 a year to obtain food from larger retailers such as Safeway, California Market and Target.
Those who exceed that income threshold can use a debit card to pay for food and non-essentials, such as toiletries and prescriptions.
On Tuesday, Californians will be mailed a new version of the state’s “Inflation Relief Program” debit card. But shoppers won’t find any new features or functions as they will with the debit card being mailed out today.
Instead, shoppers will receive an electronic coupon in the mail. They can use the coupon to purchase about 90 per cent of items offered by the grocery stores and other businesses that participate in the program.
It will be up to customers to pay for the rest themselves by using cash or a check.
The “Inflation Relief Program” debit cards are issued in cooperation with the California Department of Consumer Affairs to cover the cost of the groceries, non-essentials and other necessities for people who earn between $100,000 and $160,000 a year.
The cards are available to Californians who sign up at www.inflationreliefprogram.ca.gov/index.shtml.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched the program in 2012 as a way to help those earning up to $150,000 a year. In September, the government issued guidelines for the program in a bid to ensure the cards are used responsibly.
The government is still working out some technical details, including the amount of money a person must save.
Once people have signed up to use the debit cards, an agency employee will visit them at their home or place of employment to help them enroll. The agency will also help people fill out the necessary forms.
A spokesperson for the bureau said the final version of the debit cards should be mailed out to consumers this week.
The debit cards