Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, is the new method by which the government provides money-for-food under the federal food stamps program. When an individual is deemed eligible to receive food stamps, the government electronically transfers funds into a special account set up for the individual. Those funds can only be accessed using an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, or EBT card, when purchasing food at qualifying establishments.
In past years, when an individual became eligible for food assistance, they were sent paper food stamps, which could then be used at grocery stores and markets to purchase food. In recent years, to save money and minimize fraud, the government switched to the Electronic Benefit Transfer system. EBT allows the government to more easily track payments and expenditures, and to ensure that food stamp funds are used appropriately.
In order for you to receive electronic benefits under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAPS), you must submit an application to the local Social Security or food stamps office and be available for a face-to-face interview (or in some cases, a phone interview). If you are a U.S. citizen and your household income and resources are under a predetermined level, you will be deemed eligible to receive electronic benefits for food. The amount you receive depends on your level of need.
Once you are approved for food stamps, you will be sent an EBT card in the mail. Each month, the government will add your approved amount to the EBT account, and you can use the EBT card like a debit card to purchase food at qualifying establishments, such as grocery stores, markets and convenience stores.