What are Food Stamps – How to Apply SNAP, Eligibility, Benefits

What are Food Stamps?

United States Department of Agriculture is running a Food scheme or food assistance program for low-income families in the country. This scheme is currently known as SNAP which is short for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP was earlier known as the ‘Food Stamp’ program and it got its current name i.e SNAP in the year 2009. This Food Stamp scheme also provides help to those people in the USA who are affected by Pandemics or natural disasters like Hurricanes, Cyclones, etc.

Under this Food Stamps Program or SNAP, Food Assistance is also provided to those citizens of the USA who have lost their job due to some economic crises in the country.

How Do Food Stamps Work?

The benefits of Food Stamps are provided to those citizens who are eligible for this scheme. The eligibility criteria for this program will be discussed later. For now, we will explain the functioning of Food Stamps and how they work.

With the help of Food Stamps or SNAP a beneficiary will get financial assistance i.e some fixed amount of money into his EBT card. An EBT card stands for ‘Electronic Benefits Transfer’. EBT Card is simply like a normal Debit or ATM Card. As clear from its name, the Food assistance is transferred to this card by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The money transferred into your EBT card under Food Stamps Program can be used in any grocery shop or supermarket for purchasing Food. Using EBT you can purchase any Food item and make the payment in a similar way you do it through your Debit or ATM Card.

An important thing to note here is that you can’t get the benefit of an EBT Card through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for purchasing all kinds of Food and beverages. There is some specific types of Foods that you can purchase under the Food Stamps program.

Some of the popular types of Food items that you can purchase through Food Stamps using EBT card are:

  • Dairy Products
  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Fish, Meat
  • Poultry etc.

The assistance provided by Food Stamps is not applicable at all on the purchase of the following items.

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Cigarettes, Tobacco
  • Medicines
  • Hot Foods, Pet Foods

How to Use EBT Cards for Food Stamps?

As mentioned earlier EBT Card works similarly to a Debit or ATM card, so to buy any Food items at any store through EBT Card under the Food Stamps program you can follow the same process as Debit Card. We have explained the process of purchasing Food Items through an EBT Card below:

  • Each EBT Card has a PIN number associated with it which can be created by visiting your nearest SNAP office.
  • You can also create this EBT Card PIN number by calling the Toll Free Customer Care number of SNAP.
  • Simply go to your nearest Grocery or Food Store.
  • Select a Food item to purchase through the Food Stamps program.
  • The cashier will ask for your EBT card.
  • He/she will swipe your EBT card into the machine and ask you to enter your PIN number.
  • After entering the PIN number, the money will be deducted from EBT Card.

So you are done with the Food purchase through EBT Card.

What is the Eligibility for Food Stamps?

There are some eligibility criteria associated with getting the benefits of the Food Stamps or SNAP program. Only those persons who fulfill this eligibility criterion can take benefits of this program. Many updations and expansions have been done in the SNAP scheme during the recent Pandemic time and this scheme has already provided relief packages during the Pandemic.

The food Stamps program has provided support to the people who got affected during the Pandemic. The food Stamps program is not only beneficial to those who were hit by the Pandemic, other people can also take the advantage of it for that they have to check the following eligibility criteria.

Gross Income

  • If there is one member in a Family, then his/her income must not exceed $1473 per month to take the benefits of the Food Stamps program. In other words with a Gross income of more than $1473 per month and $17676 per year, you won’t be eligible for the SNAP program if you have a family size of 1.
  • For a family size of 2, the Monthly Gross income must not exceed $1,984 and the Annual Gross income must not exceed $29,940.
  • If the Family size increases then Gross income eligibility also increases and is listed in the below table:
Family Size Monthly Gross Income* Annual Gross Income*
1 $1,473 $17,676
2 $1,984 $23,808
3 $2,495 $29,940
4 $3,007 $36,084
5 $3,518 $42,216
6 $4,029 $48,348
7 $4,541 $54,492
8 $5,052 $60,624
Each additional person $512 + $6,144 +

If there is any disabled member in a Family or any elder person age 60 or above, then the eligibility guidelines for Monthly and Annual Gross income are different which have listed in below table depending upon the family size.

Eligibility of Food Stamps for a Family with Elderly or Disable Person

Family Size Monthly Gross Income* Annual Gross Income*
1 $2,265 $27,180
2 $3,052 $36,624
3 $3,839 $46,068
4 $4,625 $55,500
5 $5,412 $64,944
6 $6,199 $74,388
7 $6,985 $83,820
8 $7,772 $93,264
Each additional person $787 + $9,444 +

How to Apply for Food Stamps?

To get the benefits of the SNAP scheme, you will have to apply for this which can be done in a number of ways. Although the process of applying for the Food Stamps program is not much difficult still it can be time-consuming and may require more effort depending upon the area you are residing.

In some states, you can apply for the Food Stamps program online by filling out the online application form through the local SNAP office website.

There is a local SNAP office located in almost all states of the USA which lets you apply for the SNAP program easily. To apply for the Food Stamps program you can follow the below steps:

  • First of all, you have to search for the nearest SNAP office.
  • After finding your nearest SNAP office visit there.
  • You will have to ask for the Food Stamps Application form.
  • Fill in the application form completed by entering the required details.
  • You will also have to attach or submit various documents along with this application form. Once you have filled out the form, you have to submit it to the SNAP office.
  • You will then be asked to appear for an interview in which all the details including your eligibility will be verified.
  • Once you clear the interview and all your details are verified, you are ready to get the benefits of the Food Stamps Program i.e SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

The benefit of Food Stamps is transferred to your EBT Card each month which you can use for buying your desired Food items.

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