Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the country's most important anti-hunger program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. SNAP helped provide a nutritionally adequate diet to 40 million Americans (low-income) a month in 2018. SNAP is a federal program that helps low-income families and individuals buy food. It is also known as the "Food Stamp Program". Paper food stamps were supplemented in 1990 by electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, linked to profit accounts, similar to debit cards. It took until 2014 to completely phase out paper stamps.

SNAP (benefits card) cards are filled out monthly and can be used to purchase food items at farmers markets and in retail outlets. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used to buy vegetables and fruits. Meat; milk products; poultry and fish, bread and cereals; SNAP is also used to purchase other foods (such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages), seeds and plants that can be used to make food. SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages; Cigarettes, medicines, vitamins, and live animals, supplements; Non-food groceries (such as household supplies, hot food, and pet food).

An estimated 41 million people receive SNAP benefits whose income is below the federal poverty threshold. Snap provides vital nutritional support for low-income senior citizens, low-wage working families, people with fixed income disabilities and low-income families/individuals. The most responsive federal program is to provide additional aid during an economic downturn.

One-third of Snap's participants are in households with disabilities or seniors, and more than two-thirds of participants are in families with children. The full cost of SNAP benefits is paid by the federal government and the federal government splits the cost of operating the program with the states that operate the SNAP program.

Across the United States, 9.5 million children and families are using SNAP to buy food. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the largest program working to fight hunger in America. Snap helps people stretch their budget because they can use the money they use on food to pay for utilities, medical bills, and other needs like rent.

How does SNAP work ?

People using Snap receive monthly money through benefits cards (similar to debit cards) to buy groceries, at local stores or farmers' markets. The amount received every month depends on the size of the family and your income.

The Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) program responds to sudden food emergencies arising from natural disasters such as volcanoes, hurricanes and fires and provides temporary food allocations. D-SNAP facilitates access of benefits to those who have suffered significant losses.

How is SNAP Funded ?

When the first federal food stamp program was launched in 1939, as the country was emerging from the Great Depression, the program aimed to help people in need of food and to harness the growing agricultural surplus caused by consumers not being able to buy food. . The program was abolished in 1943 due to declining unemployment levels and the use of agricultural surpluses for the war effort. Today's SNAP, enacted in 1964, is basically the same over the years, although some rules have changed and the budget has contracted and expanded based on economic or political changes.

The federal government splits the cost of operating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program with the states and pays for the full cost of SNAP benefits. The SNAP program is operated by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its nationwide network of regional offices.

Local FNS field offices are responsible for licensing and monitoring the retail food stores participating in SNAP. State agencies issue a monthly allocation of benefits and determine eligibility for SNAP benefits.

Key Points of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a government program that helps people buy the food they need for a healthy life.
  • SNAP Often referred to as the "Food Stamp Program," paper stamps have been replaced by electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, similar to debit cards, since 2014.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered by the states and financed by the federal government.
  • Snap helps provide food assistance as well as training and employment programs for individuals and families (low-income).
  • Families that participate in SNAP often face many obstacles to self-reliance.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides funds or benefits to people whose income is below the federal poverty threshold for food purchases.
  • Counties (in county-administered states) often contribute substantial local funds toward administrative and supplemental costs of the SNAP program.
  • Flexibility and increased funding for the SNAP program are critically important in meeting local needs for county human services agencies.

Special Features of SNAP

SNAP's core purpose is to help provide adequate food for low-income disabled people, families, and the elderly, with SNAP promoting other goals :

1) Protecting Families from Hardship and Hunger :
SNAP responds effectively and quickly to support low-income families and communities in times of increased need. Snap helps families overcome temporary periods of family distress and unemployment. Snap can help feed the children of parents with low-paying jobs or unemployed families, until their circumstances improve. Snap helps families with limited resources buy enough food.

2) Protecting the Overall Economy :
Snap benefits are one of the most effective and fastest forms of economic stimulus because they get money into the economy quickly during a recession.
Generally, low-income individuals spend all their income on meeting daily needs such as food, shelter and transportation. Snap is available to low-income families that enable the family to spend extra dollars on their food or other items.
Moody's Analytics estimated that during 2009, when the economy was in recession, every $1 increase in SNAP profit generated approximately $1.70 in economic activity, and the CBO found that Snap had a wide range of opportunities to stimulate economic growth. The biggest among the series is "bang-for-the-buck".

3) Lessening the Extent and Severity of Poverty and Hardship :
About 92 percent of SNAP benefits go to families below the poverty line, and 55 percent to households at or below half of the poverty line. This means Snap's full focus on the poor, a feature that makes Snap a powerful anti-poverty tool. A CBPP analysis, correcting for under-reporting in government surveys, found that SNAP kept 7.3 million people out of poverty in 2016, including 3.3 million children. Snap also helps ease food insecurity and other difficulties, such as hassles of paying bills or rent.

4) Supporting and Encouraging Work :
In addition to acting as a safety net for people with disabilities, the elderly and temporarily unemployed, Snap is designed to supplement the wages of low-income workers. Millions of Americans work in jobs with unpredictable schedules and low-paying jobs, all of which contribute to the unemployment spell. Snap offers monthly benefits that help fill in the gaps for inconsistent and under-paid workers. Workers who participate in SNAP typically work in service occupations (such as cooks or home health aides and sales businesses such as cashiers) that are often jobs with low wages and fluctuating income. For Snap families, the program acts as an income support, making it easier for families to buy food. States support work through the SNAP training program and employment program, which funds work activities for unemployed adults receiving SNAP.
SNAP serves all eligible applicants. Individuals who lose the participant job can apply for SNAP and get it quickly. Workers who participate in SNAP do not run the risk of their total income (income plus SNAP) being reduced if growth is promised.

5) Supporting Healthy Eating :
Snap enables (low-income families) to buy more healthy foods. Snaps promote household food purchases so Snap benefits can only be spent on food. SNAP All states operate SNAP nutrition education programs to help participants make healthier food choices.

6) Responding Quickly to Disasters :
SNAP acts as a responder to natural disasters and provides vital food assistance to vulnerable families. After disasters, the USDA and states work together to provide quick assistance. This may include providing temporary disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits to non-participants, replacing participants' benefits to compensate for lost food, and easing program requirements to remove undue burdens on employees.

Purpose of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is a federally funded program administered by the Cayuga County Human Services Department (United States) for the Department of Agriculture. The SNAP program aims to provide income-eligible or low-income families or individuals with a higher level of nutrition by increasing their ability to purchase healthy food.

Who is Eligible for SNAP ?

SNAP is for everyone - seniors, families, unemployed, disabled people, salaried people and ex-servicemen or active military. SNAP is here to help you whenever you need it. If you want to apply for SNAP you have to meet certain eligibility requirements. Every state has different eligibility requirements. These requirements may include the following :
  • Household income must be at or below a certain level.
  • Household assets or resources (such as savings and bank accounts) must be less than a certain amount.
  • at least one US A person with citizenship or eligible immigration status must live in the home.
Contact your local food bank or your local Snap office for help figuring out if you're eligible. No risk to see if you are eligible for Snap.

SNAP is available for low-income families. Under federal rules, families must meet the following criteria to qualify for SNAP benefits. The income federal poverty threshold for receiving SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2022 is as follows:
  • Gross monthly income should generally be 130 percent of the poverty line or For a three-person family earning no more than $2,379 ($28,548 per year) per month and a three-person family with an adult or disabled member. 
  • For individual families, the limit is $1,830 per month ($21,960 per year). 
  • The maximum monthly allocation for nutritional benefits is $250 for a family of four, $835 for a family of four, and $1,504 for a family of eight.
  • Families with a disabled or elderly member are not required to meet this limit.
  • Income after deductions or net monthly income applied for items such as higher housing costs and child care must be less than or equal to the poverty line.
  • The limit is $2,250 for families with or without a disabled member, and $3,500 for those with a disabled or elderly member.
Most adults, unemployed and childless are limited to three months of benefits, unless they are participating in an eligible job or work and training program or working at least 20 hours per week. States may seek temporary exemptions for areas with high unemployment where qualified jobs are scarce. In order for states to receive the exemption, they must provide detailed Labor Department unemployment data for regions within the state that demonstrate sustained levels of high unemployment.

Most college students, strikers, some legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants are ineligible for SNAP, regardless of their assets or income.

Benefits of SNAP

SNAP is an entitlement program. The SNAP Program is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps communities and changes lives. SNAP Benefits are as follows :
  • With Snap you can buy food items at retail stores.
  • You can buy vegetables and fruits using SNAP.
  • You can purchase seeds and seedlings with SNAP.
  • You can use manufacturer's coupons with your SNAP benefits.
  • You can use SNAP benefits at farmer's markets.
About the SNAP program that includes retailers and farmers markets where you can access your benefits at the Temporary and Disability Assistance Office.

How Much Benefit Do Families Get Under SNAP ?

The SNAP recipient received approximately $127 per month (or approximately $4.17 per day, $1.39 per meal) in fiscal 2018. The SNAP benefit formula targets individual or family benefits as needed. Because very poor families need more support to get enough food, very poor families receive more benefits than families close to the poverty line. According to the benefit formula, with a family spending 30 percent of their net income on food, Snap makes up the difference between that 30 percent contribution and the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan. Hence, the family with no net income gets the maximum benefit amount.

What Can You Buy with SNAP ?

You can use SNAP to buy many things such as :
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, fish, and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Bread and cereals
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Seeds and plants to grow food for your family
Snap Benefits cannot be used to purchase :
  • Alcohol or tobacco products
  • Non-food items such as cleaning supplies, pet food, household supplies (such as toilet paper) and hygiene items (such as menstrual products, shampoo, infant formula or diapers)
  • Vitamins and medicines

Where Can You Shop Using SNAP ?

You can buy food using SNAP from many convenience stores, local grocery stores, farmers markets, and even some online delivery services like Walmart and Amazon.

How Much Does SNAP Cost ?

In 2018, the federal government spent $68 billion on SNAP and other related food assistance programs. 7 percent of SNAP spending went to state administrative costs, which included employment or training, eligibility determination, nutrition education and anti-fraud activities for SNAP families, and 92 percent of SNAP spending went directly to benefits, which included households buying food. and 1 percent went to federal administrative costs. The SNAP budget includes about $2.5 billion in other food assistance programs, including the purchase of items for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and block grants for food aid in Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

How Do People Apply for SNAP ?

Each state sets up its own SNAP application process following federal guidelines. But in most states, families apply in person at the local Snap office, although applications may also be by mail or fax or online. Applicants must attend an eligibility interview to be held over the phone.

Applicants are required to document many aspects of their eligibility, including their identity, household composition, immigration status, residence, income/resources and deductible expenses. Families found eligible receive an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card filled with benefits once a month. Household members can use the card to purchase food at any of the retailers participating in the program. More than 80 percent of profits are redeemed at the supermarket or superstore.

Families must reapply for SNAP periodically, usually every 6 to 12 months for most families and every 12 to 24 months for people with disabilities or seniors.

How to Apply for SNAP ?

Apply in your state of residence : To find FNS offices in a particular state, click a state on the map provided by the USDA on its FNS website. It shows the phone numbers, addresses and website links of the FNS office. State websites contain lists of local offices, information on employment training programs, online applications, and other services.
  • The fastest way to apply for SNAP benefits is to apply electronically at New York My Benefits
  • Visit or contact the SNAP office
  • For help applying, contact the Food Bank of Central New York. Their team will connect you to an Outreach Coordinator who will assist you in applying for SNAP benefit. (866-839-7304)
  • If you are interested in nutrition education to help your family eat better for less, you can go to
  • Sponsored by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or contact Eat Smart New York (NY), free to all SNAP households at 315-255-1183 at the Cayuga County Cooperative Extension.
For additional information on the New York State (NYS) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) :
  • For the NYS Growing Up Healthy Hotline Call : 800-522-5006 
  • Text the word food to 877-877 and receive a text back with open site information
  • Visit Summer Meals New York

Individuals with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (such as large print, braille, audio tape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the state or local agency where they applied for SNAP benefits.
Individuals who are deaf, speech impaired, or have hearing difficulties may contact the USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

How to File a Program Complaint ?

To file a program complaint of discrimination, fill out the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) online at or at any USDA office, in letter to USDA Provide all the information asked for in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to the USDA by:
  • Mail : U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 
  • Fax : (202) 690-7442    
  • E-mail : 

SNAP Program FAQ's

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ?
The SNAP program is a federal program administered in collaboration with states to help low-income families purchase food for a healthy diet. SNAP is also often referred to as the "Food Stamp Program".

Who is eligible for Snap Pay ?
Anyone earning 130% or less of the federal poverty level is eligible for SNAP. The amount of benefit depends on the size and income of the household and also on whether there is an elderly or disabled member.

What can Snap buy me ?
SNAP's list includes fruits and vegetables, dairy products, bread, cereals, meat, poultry or fish, and other foods. Snap can be used to buy things that are used to make food.

How can you apply for Snap ?
You may be able to apply for Snap by mail, phone, and online. However, we recommend connecting with your local food bank for complete details as each state has a different application form and process. After you submit your Snap application, it may take up to 30 days for your local Snap office to process your application.