Benefits to Buy Healthy Food

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program that helps low-income individuals buy healthy food through cash benefits. Formerly known as Food Stamps, SNAP provides cash benefits each month that can be used to buy food at supermarkets, grocery stores and some farmers’ markets.

This program can be a vital resource for older adults and people with disabilities who may be living on a fixed income. Families enrolled in SNAP may also be prequalified for other assistance programs, such as receiving school lunches at a reduced price or for free.

Older adults may also be eligible for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This provides eligible recipients with vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at local, authorized farmers markets. Local agencies likes senior centers and social services offices distribute these benefits.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for SNAP benefits is based on family income and resources.

Generally, the household’s total monthly income cannot exceed 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For most households, this is based on the gross income, the amount before taxes and deductions.The FPL is set annually so the amount changes. Current eligibility information can be found here.

In households that include at least one person who is age 60 or older or receives disability income, the income limit is based on net income limits, the amount left over after certain allowable deductions. There is no asset limit for SNAP except for households with gross income above 185% of the FPL. For those households, assets cannot be more than $3500.

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

Must be age 60 or older and have income not exceeding 185% of the FPL. Must be participating in another program that verifies income (such as Renter’s Rebate).

Services and Fees

SNAP provides a monthly cash benefit that is accessed through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card each month. Funds are automatically loaded between the 1st and 3rd of every month.

The EBT card can be used at any participating store similarly to a debit card to purchase food including:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat

There are some restrictions on what can be purchased with SNAP benefits. These include non-food items, alcohol, pet items and hot prepared foods.

Benefits are determined by the size of the household. For households of 5 or more, call 1-(800) 842-1508 for information on income limits and benefit amounts.

Annually, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides an $18 check booklet containing six checks valued at $3.

Find in Your Area

Individuals can apply for SNAP benefits by completing a state application form. This form can be done online, mailed, or dropped off at a local Department of Social Services Regional Office. Once the form is complete, an eligibility worker will interview the applicant to continue the application process. Find your local office.

Eligible older adults can apply for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program at agency sites across the state.

Apply for SNAP. Click on ‘Apply for Benefits’ on the right side of the page. Or download the form.

Find your agency site for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.