What is SNAP and How Does it Work?

doing shopping


Thanks to programs like SNAP, low-income individuals and families can afford nutritious food.

But What is SNAP and How Does it Work?

In this article, we’re going to explain our researchers first hand experience with apply and qualifying for SNAP. We will enlighten you on the meaning of SNAP, how it works, who needs it and how to apply.

SNAP is short for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and was created to provide nutritional support for individuals, households, disabled people, and senior adults who live on low incomes.

It works by providing financial benefits to people who are having difficulty paying for their nutritional needs( I.e putting food on the table).



Individuals and families who receive SNAP will be given a plastic card that resembles a debit or credit card. The card is called an EBT card and pre loaded with funds (money) that can be used to buy certain food items at grocery stores that accept SNAP.

All you have to do is know what foods SNAP covers and then swipe the EBT card at the check-out line and input your PIN.



What Does SNAP Pay for?



With SNAP, you can pay for the following food items:



  • Dairy products
  • Bread and cereals
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Seeds and plants that can produce food for the household to consume
  • Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages



SNAP does not allow you to buy alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food, and any food that will be eaten on-premises.

Other non-food items such as foods for pets, medicines and vitamins is not covered by SNAP.



Although energy drinks count as edible, SNAP only allows you to purchase energy drinks that have nutrition facts label, and not supplement facts label.

Live animals are also generally not eligible for purchase with SNAP, but you can buy live seafood such as fish, lobsters and shellfish.



Gift baskets that contain a mix of food and non-food items with the non-food items exceeding half of the basket, can’t be purchased with SNAP, and neither can ornamental pumpkins.

SNAP allows you to purchase birthday cakes, as long as the non-edible decorations don’t exceed half of the cake’s price.



Why is SNAP Important Now?



In critical times like this COVID19 pandemic, when families and individuals are struggling to survive and afford necessities, SNAP is very helpful in ensuring people still get the basic nutritional foods.

The program is designed to respond to changes in times of crisis and is currently serving as a way to curb the economic and health effects of the 2020 pandemic. You can learn more about the ease of SNAP rule due to the impacts of COVID-19 Here



How Much Does SNAP Give You?



The amount of money you receive from SNAP depends on the size of your household and your net income. There is a maximum amount of SNAP benefit for different family sizes.

A family of one can receive a maximum of $194, while a family of seven can receive a maximum of $1018. You can see a list of the SNAP benefit for different household sizes here.



SNAP benefit is calculated based on the household’s monthly net income. Households are expected to spend 30% of their net income on food, and the SNAP benefit is calculated subtracting 30% of the net income from the maximum benefit.



For example, if a household of four has a net income of $310 (minus all allowable deductions). The amount of money they’d receive from SNAP would be 30% of $310 which is $93, subtracted from $646 which is the maximum benefit for a household of four, to give $553.



Currently, as a result of the pandemic, families receiving SNAP benefits are being issued the maximum benefit amount for their household size to help curb the effect of the crisis.



What is the Income Limit for Food Stamps (SNAP) in 2020?



Food stamps are meant to assist low-income households, and for this reason, there are income limits for different household sizes.

A household of one would be eligible for food stamps if the monthly gross income is not above $1354. The income limit for food stamps in 2020 is listed here.



Are SNAP and Food Stamps the same?

Yes, SNAP and food stamps are the same. SNAP benefits are often referred to as food stamps, and they come in the form of debit cards loaded with a maximum amount of money that can be used to purchase food items at grocery stores and farmers markets.





In conclusion, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a program that offers financial assistance to low-income families to enable them to afford nutritional food and has indeed been beneficial to many during the 2020 pandemic crisis.

How to Apply for SNAP EBT Card

To apply for SNAP and other nutritional assistance programs you will need to contact the SNAP office in your state. 

You can do so by following this link. You will be able to apply online for a SNAP EBT card. Simply fill out the SNAP application through your state’s SNAP website. 

For immediate assistance dial  National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273).

Agents are available Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern Time.

If you want to know more about SNAP, please visit our Quick Guide.