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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Benefits


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The amount of benefits an eligible household receives depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of income the household has. The dollar amount of food stamps that can be used in a month is called the "allotment."

Food stamps can be used to buy any food or food product for human consumption, as well as seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits cannot be used to purchase tobacco products or alcohol among other items.

Instead of actual stamps or other paper, food benefits are accessed through an Electronic Benefit Transfer System (EBT) which uses a plastic card that looks and acts like a debit card.

At the option of each state, disabled recipients who can't cook -- and even homeless people who aren't disabled -- can apply to use their food stamps at approved restaurants. Only the following states have adopted this feature, and even then, few restaurants participate: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

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Federal Food Assistance/ Nutrition Programs

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