Top 3 Things to Know About SNAP Food Stamps

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), in 2021 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helped an average of more than 41 million low-income people in the United States United so that each month they could pay the cost of nutritious food. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the SNAP program, which aims to help prevent malnutrition and hunger by providing benefits to eligible low-income families. Read on for the top 3 things you need to know about the SNAP program.

1. Receive SNAP food stamps by EBT card

Food stamp recipients no longer receive stamps or paper coupons. All participants in this program use an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works similar to debit cards. Those people receive food stamps in the form of money deposited into an EBT account every month. The money received varies by household.

2. Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements

To receive food stamp benefits, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • Have US citizenship;
  • Be an immigrant who is legally in the country;
  • Be a refugee; either
  • Be an asylee (an asylee is someone who has been granted asylum in the US).

A household must meet the income and resource limits (when visiting the link, select translate to Spanish) to be eligible for SNAP. Income requirements refer to the maximum monthly income received depending on the size of the members of a household. Resources are things that can be counted, such as the amount of money in a bank account, stocks; or bonuses.

Households can have as much as US$2,750 in countable resources as a limit. If the household includes adults over 60 years of age or persons with disabilities, the limit is increased to US$4,250. Also, everyone in the household must have a Social Security number.

You need to find out if you are eligible to apply for the program before you submit your SNAP application. The request can be submitted in the following ways:

  • Online;
  • By mail;
  • At a local office;
  • By a mobile application; either
  • By fax to the telephone number 202-671-4400.

College students who participate in a federal work-study program for at least 20 hours per week receive Title IV-A type program benefits. Also if they care for a child who is dependent or are a single parent who attends school full time.

3. What you can buy with food stamps

A person can only use program benefits to buy SNAP food at stores that accept the EBT card. Most supermarkets and convenience stores accept food stamps, as do participating vendors at farmers’ markets.

On the list of allowed foods are:

  • Fruit,
  • Vegetables,
  • Meats,
  • Birds,
  • Fish,
  • Breads,
  • Cereals and more.

It is also possible to buy edible plants and seeds to grow fruits and vegetables. Food stamps can also be used to buy baby formula, spices, distilled water, and healthy foods, such as organic produce.

Each state has a special program with its own details on requirements and benefits, and even in some cases even in the name. For this reason, in some states people can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in different ways. In Arizona, for example, participants can use their benefits for the Restaurant Dining Program. This part of the nutrition program allows families to eat out at participating restaurants.

In California, participants can use program benefits at some farm stands that accept food stamps. Some of the farmers markets participate in a program called Market Match, which doubles the SNAP benefits that are allocated to the participant. In this way, people can get more fresh fruits and vegetables and farmers can sell their products.