Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a food program funded by the federal government, which used to be called “food stamps.” The purpose of the SNAP program is to reduce hunger and malnutrition among those in financial need. The goal is to provide a higher level of nutrition by giving eligible families more money to purchase healthy food.

SNAP Eligibility

Eligibility for SNAP benefits is based on several factors, including household size, income, assets like bank accounts, cash, investments and certain other personal property. The only way to know if you are eligible for SNAP benefits is to apply for them. Members of the same household must apply together, such as spouses living together, children under 22 living with their parents and minors under 18 living with their parent or person who provides parental control. If non-related members of the same household buy the majority of their food together, they must also apply for SNAP together.

SNAP Benefits

The SNAP program issues you monthly electronic benefits that can be used like cash at authorized retail food stores. You receive a benefit card that contains the amount of your SNAP benefit. The amount of benefit you receive depends on your household size, income and other factors. SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase food and seeds or plants that produce food, as well as some nutritional supplements. SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items, like diapers, cleaning products, toiletries, alcohol or cigarettes.

There are also emergency SNAP benefits that you can receive within five days if you qualify.

Legal Editor: Lisa Pearlstein, City Bar Justice Center

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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