The United States Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; previously known as food stamps) helps over 41,207,000 million households buy food each year and around 658,000 Missourians, or 1 in 9 of the state population. SNAP helps low-income people buy nutritious food to stay in good health.

SNAP eligibility is primarily determined through household income and expenses. You may be eligible for SNAP benefits if you:

  • Don’t exceed the current income limits;
  • Work part-time or receive low wages;
  • Receive other public assistance payments;
  • Are a non-citizen who meets other qualifications;
  • Are elderly or disabled and have a low income; or
  • Are currently homeless.

Some people don’t know about it, or they think it’s too hard to sign up for SNAP. This federal program is open to all households that meet eligibility requirements. Education is important around these issues, so that people feel empowered when they need to apply or re-certify for SNAP.

Redeeming SNAP dollars is easy. Each month, benefits are loaded onto an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card that is swiped at the checkout terminal just like a credit card or debit card. If there are sufficient funds on the EBT card balance, you can use it to cover eligible grocery purchases. If you receive SNAP, you can use your balance at local farmer’s markets in Missouri. Farmer’s markets are great source for healthy foods. You can double your dollars for buying fruits and vegetables with your EBT card, through the Double Up Food Bucks program

Families can use SNAP to buy certain foods for the household, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, breads and cereals. You cannot use SNAP to purchase ready- to- eat hot foods, alcoholic beverages, or nonfood items like cleaning supplies.

Many people fall into poverty after a job loss, losing a partner or spouse, or a major illness or accident. For many low-income workers, employment does not offer a pathway to a stable income. They may have been born into poverty and remained stuck there largely due to circumstances beyond their control. SNAP is an extremely vital component to food security, it reduces poverty, and is associated with improved health for many Missourians. The SNAP program is an invaluable resource to our communities. If you are interested in applying or learning more about SNAP, please contact your local food bank or, 573-355-1204.