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Content Overview

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (Formerly Food Stamps)



The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP: formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is a federal government program which helps U.S. citizens and some non-citizens with low income and resources buy the food needed for a healthy diet. The program is joint between the federal government and state and local government. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets eligibility requirements. The program is operated by State and local welfare offices.

To be eligible for SNAP, you, and the household you live in, must meet certain eligibility standards which include work, income and resources.

  • A "household" is basically the people you live with - whether you're related by blood or marriage or not. 
  • Allowable income levels vary if your health condition makes you disabled within the definition of SNAP. 

The USDA has a pre-screening eligibility tool to help determine if you are eligible. (The tool is just that, a tool that can help. It is not an application). For more information, click here.

There is only one form to complete when applying for SNAP. Before completing the form, it is advisable to read the tips included in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: How To Apply.

SNAP benefits start when your application is approved, which must be within 30 days after you submit your application - unless you ask for Expedited Service (see below).

If you need immediate access to food, look for a local food bank, go to offsite link and click on Find A Food Bank. 

To learn about other federal food assistance programs see: Federal Food Assistance/ Nutrition Programs.

NOTE: Some states provide a State Supplemental Payment (SSP) benefit to supplement the amount paid by Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In California and Wisconsin, a food allowance is included in the SSP amount so people collecting SSI/SSP are not eligible for SNAP.

For additional information, see:

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