Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): get help with food costs
Wondering if the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is right for you? Check out our guide to see who is eligible and how to apply.
by Suzana Brito
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Learn more about eligibility and how to apply
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can help you afford the food you need to stay healthy.
It’s important to know that SNAP benefits are not just for unemployed people or on welfare.
If you have a low income, you may be able to get help with your food costs through SNAP.
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What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the United States federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
It is a means-tested program that provides supplemental nutrition assistance to low-income and needy people in the United States.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The program was created in 1964 to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance to low-income families and individuals.
Since then, the program has also expanded and accepted people with disabilities and seniors.
To be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, households must meet certain income and asset guidelines.
Households that meet the income guidelines but have assets above the limit may still be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance if they have high expenses, such as medical expenses or child care costs.
SNAP pays the benefits through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used like a debit card at participating retailers.
The benefits can purchase food items, but not alcohol, tobacco, or hot foods that are ready to eat.
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How much money can participants receive through the program on average?
The total benefits an individual or a family can receive is an allotment.
The amount of SNAP benefits a family gets is based on how much money they have each month.
However, SNAP families must spend about 30% of their own income on food.
So, the government calculates how much money the family can spend on food by multiplying their monthly liquid income by 0,3, less the maximum monthly allotment for your household size.
You can find this table available on the SNAP website.
These are the allotments for households in the 48 states and Washington D.C. The allotments are different in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
|People in family||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person||+$188|
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What can you purchase with SNAP?
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can purchase food items at eligible retailers.
Some of the eligible foods are:
- Bread and cereals;
- Seeds and plants produce food for the household to eat;
- Fruits and vegetables;
- Dairy products;
- Meats, fish, and poultry.
However, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase:
- Tobacco products;
- Hot foods;
- Pet food;
- Non-food items include cleaning supplies, paper products, and health and beauty products.
In addition, SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for a service, such as ordering food at a restaurant or having someone else cook meals for you.
You can find the stores that sell products online and in-store for SNAP on their official website.
Who is eligible for SNAP benefits?
To be eligible for SNAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and should meet certain requirements.
They differ from state to state, but in general, the requirements involve having a low income and being enrolled in an approved state or local public assistance program.
There are also special rules for disabled and aged people. However, only the states will decide if you are eligible to apply for SNAP.
In general, there are some resource limit requirements families must reach:
- Gross income: The total amount of money a household makes before any taxes or other deductions are taken away;
- Net income: The amount of money you make after taking away the money you are allowed to deduct.
The table below provides information about SNAP benefits for households in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.
The information is for households that apply for SNAP between October 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022.
|Family size||Gross monthly income (130 percent of poverty)||Net monthly income (100 percent of poverty)|
|Each additional person||+$492||+$379|
*SNAP gross and net income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.
Want to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits?
You can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in the state you currently live in.
Each state has its own application and qualification form. So, in order to apply, a member of your family must contact a federal agency directly.
You can contact a state agency by visiting the local SNAP office, visiting their website, or calling SNAP on your state’s free line.
Depending on the website, you may complete the application online on the state agency website.
All things said that’s a lot of information to take in. Still, hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is, who is eligible and how to apply.
We know making ends meet can be tough, so if you think SNAP could help make your life a little easier, don’t hesitate to reach out to an office and apply.
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