Michigan food stamps are used to buy different kinds of food items. Also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), this food assistance program provides funds to low-income families who cannot afford food. These benefits are accepted at most grocery stores, supermarkets and even at some farmers markets around the state of Michigan. However, knowing which food items you can buy with SNAP is important.
Understanding how long it can take for you to receive your SNAP benefits, when they will be available and the amount of benefits you will receive is also crucial. Every month, you will receive a benefit amount that can be deposited onto your Michigan Bridge card. This can be very useful depending on the circumstances you and your family are in. To learn more about how food stamps benefits function in Michigan, continue reading the sections below.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Michigan?
When receiving funds from the MI SNAP program, you will not have to worry about not having enough money to buy food. However, there are some restrictions implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA allows for households to purchase what the USDA considers staple foods in a balanced diet. Here is what the USDA allows their food stamp beneficiaries to buy:
- Dairy products (butter, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
- Bread, grains and cereal
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Non-dairy alternatives (almond milk, tofu, etc.)
- Produce, such as fruits and vegetables
You can also buy seeds and plants that produce food for the family to eat with your food stamp benefits. Additionally, the staple food items can be perishable or frozen. It is also possible to buy snacks and desserts like doughnuts and cakes. Spices, sugar, cooking oils and any food items that can be used to complement or supplement a meal can be bought with SNAP.
Another important detail to note is that any food product with a main ingredient that appears on the staple food items list is also purchasable with food stamps. If you ever wish to purchase live shellfish – such as lobster or crab – you may do so with Michigan SNAP assistance. However, any other kind of live animals cannot be purchased with these benefits.
To learn more about which products you can buy with food stamps, download our free guide today.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Michigan
Although there are food items you can buy with food stamps in Michigan, there are also food items that you cannot purchase with food stamps. The USDA has listed food items that are ineligible to be purchased with SNAP funds. Households are not allowed to buy the following items:
- Beer, wine, liquor
- Cigarettes or tobacco
- Foods prepared for immediate consumption
- Hot food
- Live animals
Exceptions to the rule for live animals includes fish removed from water or animals slaughtered before being picked up from the store. Furthermore, any item with a Supplement Facts label is considered a supplement and therefore not an eligible food item. Vitamins and medicines cannot be purchased with these SNAP food benefits. Other non-food items that you cannot purchase with food stamps include the following:
- Pet foods
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper products
- Hygiene items
It is also important to remember that you cannot buy food from restaurants with your Michigan Bridge card. If a business makes 50 percent of gross sales in heated food items, you cannot purchase items from them with funds from the food stamps program.
If you are buying these items in conjunction with your SNAP-eligible food items, just make two different transactions. Separate your SNAP items to make your first transaction and then add your ineligible items afterwards, using a different payment method for purchase.
How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Michigan?
If you want to know how much money you will receive for SNAP, consider using a food stamp calculator. The results from the calculator will show an estimate of what you will obtain in SNAP benefits on a monthly basis. The calculator is usually offered by a third party. You will most likely need the following information:
- The size of your household
- The gross monthly income of the whole household
- The status of each family member (e.g. if they are senior citizens)
- Whether anyone in the family is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
- Eligibility for these programs can change the benefit amount you receive from the SNAP program.
- Monthly rent, mortgage or utilities
- Amount paid in medical expenses
One important detail to note is that a SNAP calculator is different from the previously mentioned calculator. The SNAP calculator is a pre-screening tool used to determine whether or not you are eligible for SNAP. This calculator will ask you for the same information bulleted above. If the only item being calculated is the benefit amount, the only information needed is the household composition and gross or net income of the household.
For more information about the SNAP benefits you may be able to receive, download our free guide today.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Michigan?
Learning when you will receive your MI food stamps benefits will allow you to financially plan ahead. Generally, it takes 30 days for your benefits to become available. You will receive an approval notice and it will include the day of the month you can have access to your benefits.
It is also possible to expedite the process for your application approval if you have a very low income. Once you are found eligible, you can receive access to your SNAP benefits within seven days. Benefits will also typically become available on the same day every month, even if the day falls on a weekend or holiday.
When you are approved for SNAP assistance, you will be sent a Michigan Bridge card in the mail. This card will work just like a debit card and can be used to purchase your groceries. When your card arrives, you must call a customer service representative to create your personal identification number (PIN).