The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which commonly referred to as food stamps, helps low-income American individuals and families afford groceries on a monthly basis. The program administers benefits through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card and is overseen at the state level by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Families who receive SNAP benefits are able to use their EBT cards in the same manner that they would a debit or credit card. Every month, new funds are transferred to their account, allowing these families to purchase a wide array of food that meets their needs.
On the other hand, be mindful that there are certain items that are off-limits from EBT purchases, despite being sold in grocery stores. Therefore, it is important for beneficiaries to understand what is and what is not eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits. Read on to learn more about the benefits of the food stamps program in Florida.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Florida?
The Florida food stamps program is designed to help families put food on the table on a monthly basis. Therefore, all “staple foods,” which are the foods that make up the majority of a healthy diet, are available for purchase using food stamp benefits. Staple foods include:
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables
- Bread and cereal
The other category of food that you may purchase with SNAP assistance in Florida is referred to as “accessory foods.” The category of accessory foods typically includes items that fall out of the staple food groups, such as snacks and desserts. In addition, accessory foods encompass items that complement meals, such as seasonings, oils and even cooking ingredients like flour.
Furthermore, you may purchase seeds and plants using food stamps, so long as they are used to grow food for the household. Lastly, be mindful that accessory foods also include non-alcoholic beverages, such as soda. To learn more about what you can purchase using food stamp benefits, download our free guide.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Florida
Certain products are ineligible for beneficiaries to purchase using SNAP assistance in Florida. This includes any non-food items, such as:
- Pet food
- Household products
- Hygiene and cosmetic products
- Alcoholic beverages
- Medicines, vitamins and supplements
- Prepared or hot foods
- Live animals
It is important to keep in mind that certain items that you think are eligible may not qualify for SNAP benefits, because they are considered supplements rather than food. One strategy for identifying whether or not an item is eligible for purchase under the SNAP program is to look at the product label.
As a general rule, if the product has a “Nutrition Facts” label, then it is likely eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. Alternatively, if the product has a “Supplement Facts” label, then it is likely not eligible for purchase. For example, gummy fruit snacks are eligible for purchase, whereas gummy vitamins are not.
Moreover, any food that is designed to be consumed in the store is not eligible to be purchased with SNAP food benefits. To help you identify these products in stores, look for labels that read “grab and go” or “hot and ready.” Be mindful that this limitation also includes food sold in restaurants. Even if you do not intend on consuming food in the store, you will not be able to purchase it.
Finally, you are generally not able to purchase live animals for slaughter using SNAP benefits. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. You are still able to purchase shellfish, fish taken out of the water and animals that are slaughtered before pickup using SNAP assistance.
How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Florida?
Your total amount of food stamps benefits in Florida will be based on your household’s annual income and family size. In any case, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determines maximum allotments for a family based on its size. However, this is only part of how you may determine your possible allotment.
In general, families are expected to contribute 30 percent of their net monthly income to food. Therefore, to determine how much your family should expect, calculate 30 percent of your net monthly income. Then, subtract that figure from the pre-determined maximum allotment for your household size. Generally, this will result in the amount of SNAP benefits your household may qualify to receive.
To help you determine the total amount of benefits that you may receive, consider using a food stamp calculator. This tool is available online and helps you determine a possible allotment amount. To use a SNAP calculator, simply input your household’s demographics and income information. Then, the calculator will be able to provide an estimate of what you should expect each month. For more information on how SNAP benefits, download our free guide.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Florida?
It will take up to 30 days for the state to process your application after all the required materials are submitted. Once your application is processed, you will be notified of the amount of Florida food stamps benefits you have been allotted. You will also receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that allows you to use your SNAP benefits at participating locations.
If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for expedited processing. For example, if you have the gross monthly income of $150 and less than $100 of liquid access, you qualify for expedited processing. In this case, your application will be processed in 2 weeks, and you will receive your food stamps faster.
Once your application is approved, you will receive SNAP benefits from the date when you applied. After that, you will receive your benefits once a month on your EBT card.