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Food Stamps (SNAP) Application & Elgibility Info

Updated on November 24, 2017
Rachelle Williams profile image

I'm Rachelle, a.k.a "TheMotleyChick," a lover of eclectic but ordinary people, situations & topics and I love sharing helpful resources.

Food Stamps Back in the Day
Food Stamps Back in the Day

What is SNAP?

In early 2009, the food stamp program was officially renamed the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP for short.

Most people are already familiar with the food stamp program, but many people are surprised to learn that they qualify for SNAP benefits even if they have a job.

The best way to find out if you are eligible for snap benefits, is to contact your local human services department for an application, or visit the food stamp eligibility website.

At the bottom of this food stamp guide, you will find links to every human services agency contact in this country, as well as a link to the SNAP eligibility website, where you can find out if you qualify before you apply.

Before you apply for benefits, you should make sure you know as much as you can about how the program works.


Texas EBT Card
Texas EBT Card

What is EBT?

As you can see from the picture above, food stamps used to be issued as paper food coupons.

The program has come up in the world. SNAP benefits are now issued on a plastic debit card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card or EBT Card.

The EBT card looks and works just like any other debit card. These days, there are no more embarrassing ordeals with having to count paper coupons at the checkout.

You simply go to the checkout, swipe your card, enter your pin, and off you go with your food (hopefully, nutritious food).


What Kind of Food Can I Buy With Food Stamps?

In most states, you cannot buy hot, prepared food with SNAP benefits. For example, you cannot buy food that is cooked in the deli if it is hot - but when food from the deli is pre-packaged, and it has been refrigerated (cold deli foods), it can be purchased.

In some states, you will find that there has been recent exceptions to the fast food rule. If you read the next section in this hub, you will find out about these exceptions.

The obvious restrictions apply and they will probably never be changed: you cannot purchase alcohol, or any non-food item such as paper goods and cleaning supplies. Thousands of consumers and store owners are convicted of food stamp fraud each year - make sure you're not one of them.


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Certain States Allow the Purchase of Fast Food with Food Stamps

Not all states allow it, and not all restaurants are eligible. But, believe it or not, there are a couple of places where you can purchase fast food with SNAP benefits.

Furthermore, many well-known fast food restaurants have applied to be able to accept EBT cards.

Currently, there is a bit of an uproar because some folks are angry that the purchase of fast food with government aid is being allowed.

Currently, the fast food stores in the following states will allow you to purchase their meals with food stamp benefits:

  • Arizona: Domino’s Pizza, Golden Corral, Southern Cuisine, Rally’s Hamburger
  • California: Jack in the Box, Subway, El Pollo Loco, Papa Murphy’s Pizza.
  • Florida: KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy’s Pizza.
  • Michigan: Church’s Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Subway, Grandma’s Famous Chicken, Eight Mile Pancake House, Mr. T’s BBQ, Vito’s Pizza.

*In the case of franchised restaurants, not all locations participate.

*It appears that Yum Brands is pushing really hard to get approval to participate. Most of the stores that currently participate, belong to Yum Brands.


SNAP Eligibility Online


Just like with any other form of government aid, eligibility for SNAP benefits is based on your income.

You can use the food stamp eligibility tool to check to see if you are able to get them without having to go down your local human services office to apply.

If you have low income and the food stamp eligibility tool says that you are not eligible, you need to apply anyway because the tool is not perfect.


How Do I Apply for Snap Benefits?

In many places, you can apply completely online - getting SNAP is now a snap!

To find out how to apply for food stamps in your area, please click on the SNAP Application Office Location Finder tool.

*In certain situations, if you have very low income and almost or no money, you can receive expedited SNAP benefits in as little as five days.


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