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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.


Sound Off

Do you think people should be able to buy fast food with food stamps?

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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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    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      mawmaw -

      I have friends and family members who were homeless. I know it is impossible to cooking without a kitchen. I still don't think SNAP funds should be spent on fast food.

      Because the money won't go far enough to feed someone for a whole month if it is spent on fast food. And although fast food may taste good, it is not nutritious, especially for growing children.

      Much better food and much more food for the same amount of money can be found in a grocery store, even if you have no kitchen. It is possible to feed a family nutritios and tasty food without a kitchen.

      Anyone wanting to get the most food for their SNAP funds and concerned about nutrition and good health could select a few items from List 1 and plan to eat them at the very next meal.

      Then select a variety of items from List 2, enough to last the next four to six days. A family could have more food and eat better quality food with a great deal of variety by shopping once a week.

      For example, these items need to be consumed within a couple of hours of being purchased:

      List 1: Cheese – any variety, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, sliced turkey – ham – bologna – corned beef, egg – tuna – chicken – ham salad (plastic tubs), from the deli – roasted chicken, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese – baked beans – green beans – other vegetables, deviled eggs, and cold slaw.

      And the following items do not need to be refrigerated and will last from four days to ten days:

      List 2: Crackers, pop tarts, pretzels, cookies, chips, cereal, bread, peanut butter & jelly or jam, apples- oranges – peaches – apricots – grapes – bananas - pears, canned mixed nuts, fruit cups, raisins, cranberries, dates, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, carrots., cucumbers, and fruit juices.

      I am not saying it will be easy and it will take some planning, but it can be done. It will make things much easier if all the “perishable food” is bagged together and items that will last for awhile are bagged separately and kept in a book bag, gym bag, or box in the car or tent or temporary shelter.

      My heart felt prayers and best wishes go out to you and to the many, many families around the country who find themselves in terrible and difficult circumstances. Please, for the sake of your children, do not feed them a steady diet of fast food.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      mr/mr phdast7 how bout let me have someone take your job, take your home, remove any way you have of cooking any type of food, which in my opinion that is WHY they have started allowing this. There are 1,000

      's of good, hard working people that are either living IN their cars, or in big tent cities now heck as lazy as that is (NOT) you cant cook in those places..thank you and have a wonderful day

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How can apply for stamps off my phone

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you for an informative hub and for informing us of the ridiculous and insane regulations which permit people to spend SNAP dollars (tax payer money) on fast food. I am appalled and angry. Great Hub. Sharing.

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      @ pamelareads - yea, it is causing quit the stir. I'm glad you found the article informative.

    • pamelareadz profile image

      Pamela Cornes 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Hey Rachelle...again, this article was very informative...I didn't know about the fast food in those states either!

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      @ Ktrapp, I'm with you, I think what people buy should be their choice as well. However, thousands of people are in a huge uproar about it.

      @ Peter Lumetta - Thank you for the compliment, I am hoping that it will be useful to someone in need.

      @ justmesuzanne - Thanks for the Vote Up.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      9 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Good and timely information for the depression.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Rachelle - This was really interesting. I am wondering why the government won't allow people to buy hot, prepared meals in the deli. Why shouldn't someone on assistance be able to have a hot prepared meal from the grocery store? I doubt it would be used a lot for that since it would take more money, but I think it should be their choice.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      9 years ago from Texas

      Excellent information! Voted up, useful and shared! :)

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      LOL! @ Stayingalivemoma. I'm glad you found this article useful.

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 

      9 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      You are on a roll girl! I live in Arizona and I didn't even know that! Can't wait to tell my sweetie pie that we're gonna eat some fast food!! Yay!!


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