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Your Guide to Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is federally funded, and managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP provides nutrition benefits to help support families in need.

To receive SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state you currently live and meet the requirements, including income limits.

SNAP can help families buy these food items:

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Meat, poultry, and fish

  • Dairy products

  • Breads and cereals

  • Snack foods

  • Non-alcoholic beverages

  • Seeds and plants

You cannot use SNAP benefits to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco

  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements

  • Live animals

  • Foods that are hot at the point of sale

  • Any non-food items, such as pet foods or cleaning supplies

To ask a question about food eligibility, visit Ask USDA and type your question, or chat with an agent.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

In most cases, eligible families must meet both gross income and net income limits. Gross income is a household’s total income before any deductions (e.g., taxes). Net income is the amount the household earns after taxes and other deductions. To learn more about income limits, contact your state’s SNAP agency.

There are special SNAP rules for households with elderly or disabled members.

How do I apply for food stamps?

To apply, contact your state’s SNAP agency. Fill out an application at your local SNAP office, on your state agency’s website, or call your state’s SNAP agency. Some states have online applications that can be filled out on the state agency website.

How do I use SNAP benefits?

If your application is accepted, you will receive SNAP benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Benefits are automatically loaded into your account each month, and you can use your EBT card like a debit card. Learn more about EBT cards on USDA’s website.

How long will I receive SNAP benefits?

Each case is different. If you are eligible, the Food and Nutrition Service will send you a notice of how long you will get SNAP benefits. You will get a second notice before your SNAP benefits end that will give you the option to reapply to continue receiving benefits. Your local SNAP office can give you information on how to do this.

If you are not eligible for SNAP, there are many other programs that may be able to help. Browse our Food and Nutrition category or take the Benefit Finder questionnaire to find other related benefits you may be eligible for.


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