October 25, 2020

Introduction to Food Stamps

The Food Stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal assistance program that allows you to purchase groceries to feed your family. Not all items found in grocery stores can be purchased with food stamps, but the following are acceptable:

  • Breads and cereals;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Meats, fish and poultry;
  • Dairy products;
  • Seeds or plants that produce food.
  • food stamps

Food stamps cannot be used to purchase certain items. These items include:

  • Beer, wine or liquor;
  • Cigarettes or tobacco;
  • Pet food;
  • Paper products and household supplies;
  • Medicine;
  • Hot food or food that will be consumed in the store.

How do food stamps work?

Once your application for food stamps is approved, you will be given an account that acts in a similar way to a bank account. You will also receive a plastic card called the Mass Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT card). Each month, your food stamp benefits will be deposited into your account. When you use your EBT card to buy food, your account will be debited.

Note that if you do not use all of your benefits for any given month, you will not lose the unused benefits.

Who is eligible to receive food stamps?

People of all ages and from all walks of life are eligible to receive food stamps.

Those living alone, with roommates and entire families are eligible to participate in the program. Eligibility is based on the size of your household, your citizenship status, the income that your family receives and various other expenses.

Both the employed and unemployed may receive food stamps. Should you be unemployed, you may be required to participate in an employment or training program prior to receiving assistance.

Some students may also be eligible to receive this benefit. These individuals will most likely be required to be a participant in a work-study program, work a minimum of twenty hours per week, or be responsible for the care of a household member.

How do you apply for food stamps?

In order to receive food stamps, you must first submit an application. Since these applications are reviewed by each individual state, you should contact your local SNAP office to begin the process. To locate your local SNAP office, click on the following link: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/outreach/map.htm.

Some states allow you to apply for food stamp benefits online. For a list of those states and a link to their online applications, click on the following link: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/applicant_recipients/apply.htm.

If your food stamps benefits claim is denied, can you appeal the decision?

In order to appeal a claim that has been denied, one should contact their local SNAP office. A hearing may be scheduled to review your case.

Also, should you feel that you are not receiving enough benefits or that your benefits were unrightfully taken away, you may contact your local SNAP office to inquire about an appeal. Locate your local SNAP office at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/outreach/map.htm.

How much might you expect to receive in food stamps benefits each month?

In the year 2008, the average benefit received per person was $101.00. That same year, the average benefits received per household was $227.00.

Questions about food stamps?

Should you need assistance with or have questions about your food stamp benefits, you can access a list of hot line numbers at this location:


Additional information at: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/foodstamps/

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