One expense that cannot be avoided, however, is food. Here’s how SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, can help ensure that your family stays fed.
When money runs low, what do many people do? They look for ways to supplement their income, either by working extra hours or finding a second job.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has made such moves extremely difficult, as a majority of businesses have temporarily closed down to help with social distancing.
If supplementing your income via work isn’t an option, what’s your next move? Making tough decisions on where your remaining money should go. And while you could put bills like your cable and phone on the backburner, the same can’t be said for food.
Although coronavirus stimulus checks and unemployment compensation may soon save the day, you should try to boost your household’s resources as much as possible. And when it comes to food, SNAP may be one of your best options.
If you’ve never applied for SNAP benefits before, this brief guide will give you a background to how this food assistance program works so you can apply as soon as possible.
The SNAP Application Process
Applying for SNAP is accomplished on a state level. As such, each state may have its own specific requirements and application forms. To contact the SNAP office nearest you, go here.
Applying for SNAP is usually done via in-person visits, over the phone, or online. Due to the coronavirus, the government is shifting towards less face-to-face contact, so you may find that you can apply without having to leave your home.
If you want someone else to apply on your behalf, they can do so. You will have to designate them as your authorized representative, however, in writing.
When you apply for SNAP, the process usually begins with contacting your state agency and completing and submitting your application.
While your application is processed, which usually takes 30 days, you will have to verify the information you provided. You will also have to complete an interview.
Once everything is complete, you will be sent a notice that will tell you if you were accepted or rejected for SNAP benefits.
Some cases may be processed in less than 30 days. For instance, you may become eligible within seven days if your housing and utility expenses exceed your monthly gross income and liquid resources. Or you can become SNAP-eligible within a week if your liquid resources are less than $100, and your monthly gross income is less than $150.
Your state will determine your eligibility according to income and other factors. Since
requirements may differ between states, contact your local agency for specifics.
Besides income, work may be used to determine your eligibility, although that may change due to COVID-19. Typically, some states require SNAP applicants or recipients to at least try to find work or participate in state-assigned employment and training classes.
The amount of SNAP benefits you receive (allotment) will depend on how many people are in your household and your income. Ask your state agency to provide you with a benefits chart.
If accepted, your SNAP funds will be distributed onto an EBT card. You can use it like a debit card to buy groceries at specific food stores and retailers.