All about the SNAP Benefits Program


Everything you need to know about America's Largest Anti-Hunger Program

Why do we need SNAP Benefits?

SNAP benefits and other anti-hunger programs are vital to ending hunger in America.

The first food-stamp program was created in 1939. Decades later, food stamps have become the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We’ve made strides in feeding our neighbors since the Great Depression, but hunger still persists in every school, every neighborhood and every community across our five-county service area today.

SNAP benefits and other anti-hunger programs are an incredibly important resource for our neighbors who may be recovering from a tough break and need a little temporary help getting back on their feet, or who need support during a crisis. These programs are efficient and effective. Feeding America is the largest anti-hunger charity in the United States, but all of our good work is only a fraction of what the federal anti-hunger programs accomplish. For every meal, Feeding America provides, SNAP provides nine.

Who does SNAP help?

SNAP helps our neighbors put food on the table during difficult times. Mainly, SNAP serves children, seniors, and people with disabilities. In fact, nearly half of the people receiving SNAP are children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP is helping people who suddenly found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of not being able to put food on the table for themselves or their families.

How does SNAP work?

SNAP is available to people living in households with low incomes. Those who qualify for SNAP receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, loaded with benefits that are timely, targeted, and temporary. Benefits are about $1.40 per meal or around $127 per person per month. SNAP benefits can only be spent on food.

How does SNAP help the economy?

Households usually spend their monthly benefits right away, so SNAP provides quick support to local economies. And that support is significant, as every dollar in SNAP benefits helps generate between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity.

What happens if we don't increase SNAP benefits for the duration of the economic downturn and beyond?

If we don’t increase SNAP benefits for the duration of the economic downturn and beyond, food banks will continue to face unprecedented demand for food assistance. In 2023, Gleaners Community Food Bank shared more than 50 million pounds of food with our neighbors in need.

What can I do to support SNAP?

Send a message to Congress asking them to increase SNAP benefits for all recipients and to help provide important food for families struggling during the pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions about SNAP Benefits:

Am I eligible for SNAP?

Your household must meet certain requirements to be eligible for SNAP and receive benefits. If your state agency determines that you are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you will receive benefits back to the date you submitted your application.

How do I apply for SNAP?

You must apply for SNAP in the state where you currently live. Because each state has a different application form and process, a member of your household must contact your state agency directly to apply.

You can contact your state agency by visiting your local SNAP office, visiting your state agency’s website, or calling your state’s toll-free SNAP Information hotline. Some states have online applications that can be completed from the state agency website.

What happens when I apply for SNAP?

In most cases, once you submit your application, your state agency or local SNAP office will process it and send you a notice telling you whether or not you are eligible for benefits within 30 days.

During the 30 days, you will need to complete an eligibility interview and give proof (verification) of the information you provided. The interview is typically completed over the telephone or in-person. If you are found eligible, you will receive benefits based on the date you submitted your application.

You may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits within 7 days of your application date if you meet additional requirements. For example, if your household has less than $100 in liquid resources and $150 in monthly gross income, or if your household’s combined monthly gross income and liquid resources are less than what you pay each month for rent or mortgage and utilities expenses. Contact your state agency for additional details.

How do I receive SNAP benefits?

If you are found eligible, you will receive SNAP benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. Benefits are automatically loaded into your account each month. You can use your EBT card to buy groceries at authorized food stores and retailers.

How long will I receive SNAP benefits?

If you are found eligible, you will receive a notice that tells you how long you will receive SNAP benefits for; this is called your certification period. Before your certification period ends, you will receive another notice that says you must recertify to continue receiving benefits. Your local SNAP office will provide you with information about how to recertify.