If you need financial help to afford your groceries, the federal government may be able to assist you. Depending on your income and other personal factors, you may qualify food stamps or WIC.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a financial assistance program from the federal government designed to help low-income individuals and families purchase nutritious foods. Also known as food stamps, qualified applicants receive money on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card that they can use to purchase qualified foods at participating locations.
WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is a branch of SNAP dedicated to helping pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women as well as needy children up to 5 years of age.
Both of these financial assistance programs are geared toward individuals and families with low incomes. As such, you must meet the income limits determined by your state. These limits vary across the country due to differences in cost of living. However, you must generally have a total household income at or below 130% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Also, the more family members you have, the higher your income may be to qualify.
You must also reside in the state in which you apply for assistance. There are other slightly different qualification requirements for each program.
To qualify for financial help through WIC, you must meet certain non-financial related criteria. For example, you must either be pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding. Children are eligible to receive WIC funds until they reach age 5.
All WIC applicants must undergo a health screening to determine nutritional risk. To receive financial assistance, WIC applicants must have at least one of the medical or dietary conditions on their state’s list of WIC nutrition risk criteria.
To qualify for financial assistance through SNAP, you cannot have more than $2,250 in countable resources. These include things such as cash or money in a bank account. If you have a family member who is 60 years of age or older or who is disabled, you cannot have more than $3,500 in countable resources.
The maximum amount of financial help you can receive through SNAP depends on your income and your family size. The government calculates your benefit amount as 30% of your monthly income. For example, if your monthly income is $1,000, the maximum amount you can receive each month is $300.
Specific benefits vary for each program. WIC financial assistance is subject to designated food packages. Each package outlines the approved food categories and the maximum amount that WIC applicants may receive.
Through SNAP, families can only use EBT cards to purchase approved foods in designated amounts.If you are approved for financial help through either of these programs, your state will supply you with a resource guide you can use to find and purchase approved food.