Many families across America struggle to cover the cost of groceries. If this sounds like you, you might be feeling a bit hopeless. But you don’t need to! Did you know that there are many federal programs that help those who are struggling financially? You can find federal programs that help with housing, healthcare, and even food support.
This article will tell you about a particular program that offers food assistance. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers monthly funds, or allotments, to those who qualify through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. These cards can be used to buy approved groceries from supermarkets that accept these cards. We’ll explain everything you need to know about SNAP and EBT cards in this article!
Understanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is a federal food assistance program that offers individuals and families with limited resources monthly benefits for groceries. However, only those who qualify can get SNAP benefits, which includes the following:
- Households with kids
- Senior citizens
- Those with disabilities
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is responsible for this program. The amount of SNAP benefits a recipient can get will be based on their current circumstances. The funds from SNAP will be loaded onto an EBT card that recipients can use to buy eligible groceries. Actually, since 2004, these cards have been the only method to use SNAP funds.
However, there is a limit to how much you can receive in benefits. You should know that these amounts will vary, but these amounts apply for Oct. 1st, 2022 until Sept. 30th, 2023. A one-person household can get a maximum amount of $281. As for families with 2 people, they can get a maximum amount of $516. Furthermore, a household with 3 people can get a maximum amount of $740, while families with 4-people can get a maximum amount of $939.
A household with 5 people can get a maximum amount of $1,116 and families with 6 people can get a maximum amount of $1,339. Additionally, a household with 7 people can get a maximum amount of $1,480, while families with 8 people can get a maximum amount of $1,691. Finally, any extra person in a household of 8 people could receive a maximum amount of $211 per person.
Apply for SNAP To Get an EBT Card
Before anything happens, you need to qualify and go through the application process to get SNAP benefits. The first step would be contacting the SNAP agency of your state. Even though the federal government funds the program, states are responsible for running it. However, each state has its own version of the program. So, one state’s SNAP can work differently than another state. That’s why you should contact your state’s SNAP agency, which can happen online, in-person, or on the phone.
Typically, the local or state SNAP agency processes your application within 30 days after you submit it to find out if you qualify. If the program accepts your application, then you will find out the amount of time you will receive SNAP benefits for (also known as your certification period). Some recipients are lucky enough to find out within 7 days, rather than 30 days. As part of the application process, you will need to complete an eligibility interview and offer evidence proving your financial status.
Let’s say that you get benefits from SNAP, you’re probably wondering how long these benefits last. Once the certification period expires, the program will notify you to go through the re-certification process. To re-certify, you will need to show that you still qualify and that you are still in need of assistance.
If You Disagree With The SNAP Decision, Then You Can Do The Following
If SNAP refuses your application and you do not agree with the decision, then you can ask for a fair hearing. A SNAP official will look through your case again, as a legal obligation. To get a hearing, you should submit a request online, over the phone, or in-person. However, there is a deadline that comes with submitting a request! You will need to submit the request within 90 days of SNAP’s decision to refuse your application. Generally, the official will look through your case and make sure to give a fair judgment.
What to Know About Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards
Now that you know about SNAP, we’re going to dive deeper into what EBT cards are. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program was created as well. As a way of helping those struggling through lockdown, EBT cards were used as a form of temporary assistance. There are currently several states that have approval to run the program in the 2022-2023 academic year.
SNAP helps families pay for groceries each month, but recipients cannot buy just anything at any supermarket. Firstly, you can only buy groceries from stores that accept these cards. Secondly, only some foods have been approved for purchase. Things recipients cannot buy are certain live animals, hygiene products, supplements and more. On the other hand, recipients can buy fresh produce, different kinds of meat, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, to name a few. To learn more, SNAP offers a list of the foods that can and cannot be bought with EBT cards.
That’s basically the most important information you should know about EBT cards! These cards are available thanks to SNAP. SNAP helps people who have limited income afford groceries every month. However, you should check with your state’s SNAP agency before you apply for accurate information that applies to you and your family.
As we mentioned above, there are other federal programs out there that can help you out, other than food support programs. If you want to know more about these programs, then you can do your research and explore your options! The best thing about these programs is that it won’t cost a thing to apply. So, you won’t lose anything if you just try!