How to Use Your Benefits
If your SNAP office approves your application, you will receive a plastic electronic card in the mail. This card contains your benefits and can be used anywhere that accepts EBT payments. This card works like a debit card and is automatically loaded with your benefit amount each month on the date given to you by your caseworker.
Examples of items that you can purchase:
Fruits and vegetables
Meats and dairy products
Seeds and plants that may produce food for the household
Examples of items that you cannot purchase:
Vitamins or medications
It’s a simple system, and most retail outlets that handle food are familiar with the EBT cards and their uses.
Your Responsibilities As A SNAP Benefit Recipient
Once you receive benefits, you have certain responsibilities. Those who do not follow these rules may lose their benefits and even face prosecution, so it’s important to understand what those responsibilities are. The main points are pretty simple:
Be honest on your application.
Report changes in household circumstance promptly to the SNAP office.
Do not use someone else’s name or possessions to obtain benefits.
Only buy eligible items.
Do not sell, trade or give away your benefits or cards.
We can’t stress this enough: Follow the rules. No matter how easy it seems to hold information back or cheat, even in a small way, don’t do it. People do get caught, and the penalties can be severe.
How To Renew Your Benefits
Once you have begun receiving benefits, you will eventually be required to recertify. Recertification can come up anywhere between 30 days to a year after benefits start, depending on your situation. Your caseworker will tell you how often you need to recertify. It is important to remember that if there have been any changes since your last application, you will need to submit verification. You must report changes in salary, someone moving into or out of your household, changes in medical condition, and any similar event. If you’re not sure if you need to report something, ask.
If you do not complete the recertification process, your SNAP office will cancel your benefits, and you will have to reapply. For more details, you can read our renewal guide.
SNAP Disaster Program
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has also coordinated with local, state and voluntary organizations to provide the following assistance to individuals in a disaster situation:
Provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites
Hand out food packages to households in need
Issue Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits
If you have been affected by a natural disaster, consider these benefits.
Not Eligible? Here Are Some Other Options:
If your family needs food and are ineligible for SNAP, still in the application process, or if SNAP is not providing you with enough food related items, please consider these additional services:
The Salvation Army and similar organizations with food relief programs
Free meals provided by churches or other organizations
You can also check our Charities Database which contains listings of charity organizations in your state. These charities offer help and hope to millions of Americans in need each year, regardless of economic or social background.