What Food Stamp Programs are available?
The United States government is devoted to assisting children, low-income families and individuals with two programs directed at trimming back hunger and providing food and sustenance to people across the country. These programs were historically known as the Food Stamps Program, a fitting name since the program provided stamps that had a dollar value which could be used to purchase food and groceries. The use of actual stamps has more recently been replaced by EBT and Debit cards.
The modern names for the two major food stamp programs in the United States are the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) programs. Applying for SNAP and WIC is usually a simple process that requires a visit to a state-run agency, but it is advisable to first get educated on about the programs and their prerequisites prior to applying.
What is SNAP?
Although the name SNAP may be unfamiliar to many, most people will recognize it by its other name, the Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp Program was implemented in 1939 and has been extending services to people across the United States since its beginning. The name of the federal program was changed to SNAP as of Oct 1, 2008 ; individual states may help the program under a different name. The SNAP program provides a way for low-income families and individuals to buy nourishing food that they would not otherwise be able to afford. The benefits that are given to participants change based on factors such as family size, income, and assets. Participants in the SNAP program may buy food and seeds to grow their own food by shopping at participating stores. Items that may not be bought include hot and prepared food, cigarettes, alcohol, personal care items, paper commodities, pet food, household supplies, and medication.
How do I use SNAP or WIC benefits?
Instead of paper food stamps, all states at present employ Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). The EBT system permits participants to buy food using a card that functions like a debit card ; EBT cards can be used in any state in the country at locations that are qualified to accept SNAP benefits. In order to be accepted into the program and receive an EBT card to buy food, it is necessary to first apply at your local state-run office that facilitates the SNAP program.
Am I eligible for SNAP?
Different states have different prerequisites and applications for eligibility, but to get a general idea of whether or not you could be eligible to receive food stamp benefits, as well as the amount of help you could get, utilize the SNAP Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool. Based on the results of the pre-screening tool, you should then click the link to your state below to learn more about the SNAP program in your state, including how to apply. After applying, applicants will in all likelihood need to furnish extra documentation during an interview with a state case worker and fit all prerequisites set forth by the state on an ongoing basis in order to continue receiving benefits.
What is WIC?
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Children, and Infants, or WIC, is a program that focuses on the special needs of pregnant and lactating low-income women and children. Supplemental foods are provided to women and children in order to guarantee nutrition during this delicate time. Although coverage for women terminates shortly after giving birth, benefits can be retained until six months after the birth of a child if the woman is breastfeeding. WIC also provides formula for babies, in addition to basic foods such as bread, cheese, and milk for children up to age 5. In addition to supplying supplemental foods, WIC also supplies nutritional guidance and referrals to other health and social service agencies.
Who can get WIC?
The eligibility prerequisites for WIC are based on category (women, infants, children), state of residence, income, and nutritional peril. Applicants who have SNAP benefits, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Medicaid are automatically eligible, but extra factors may determine whether or not an applicant is accepted into the WIC program. Additionally, plan participants may need to complete educational training or office visits in order to obtain future benefits. Most WIC benefits are supplied with paper checks that must be redeemed for items that conform to the stated qualifications at vendors that accept WIC. A small number of states have enforced an EBT program for WIC benefits, while more states are working on making the switch from checks to EBT. For more information, click on your state below to get in contact with your local WIC office.