Food Stamp Facts

Food stamps are government-issued financial aid given to low-income individuals and families for the purpose of buying food. Food stamps are administered by the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service to over 40 million people per year in the United States. Food stamps are now known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAPS, but the mission of food stamps has remained the same. Through SNAPS, food stamp aid is distributed to qualifying low-income people through Electronic Benefit Transfer accounts, or EBT cards. EBT cards operate like debit cards and can be used to purchase food at approved food establishments, such as markets, groceries, convenience stores, co-ops, and some restaurants. Paper food stamps are no longer used to disseminate food stamp aid.

In order to qualify for food stamps, your household is allowed no more than $2000 in "countable" resources. Countable resources include bank accounts, but exclude resources such as a home and property. If at least one person in the household is age 60 or older, you are allowed up to $3000 in countable resources. Your household must also have a gross monthly income that is 130% or less of Federal poverty guidelines, which includes all cash payments to your household. Your net household income must be 100% or less of Federal poverty guidelines. Net income is total gross income minus approved deductions for child care, shelter costs and other expenses.

The amount you receive in food stamps depends entirely on your income, resources, and family size. The lowest-income, highest-need participants can receive hundreds of dollars per month in food stamp benefits, in addition to other government assistance. To apply for food stamps and find out how much you are eligible to receive, you can obtain a food stamp application from any Social Security office, and some states provide applications online. The Social Security office will help you fill out the food stamp application and send it to the food stamp office for you.

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