SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides eligible residents with monetary assistance to purchase nutritious foods. After acceptance into the program, beneficiaries will begin receiving their monthly allotment of funds in order to their grocery purchases. Food stamp benefits are dispersed through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system. Recipients receive an EBT debit card to be able to access these funds.
There are many foods that can be purchased with SNAP benefits. However, there are a number of restrictions as well. For instance, foods that are hot and already prepared cannot be purchased with food stamp funds. However, seeds that will produce food are acceptable. It is important to understand the limitations of SNAP assistance. Read the sections below to gain understanding about food assistance benefits. To learn more about SNAP benefits, download our free guide today.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Nebraska?
The SNAP program enables beneficiaries to purchase a wide variety of foods to feed themselves and their families. Because the goal of the program is to increase access to nutritious foods in order to promote healthy diets, most permitted foods are considered staple foods.
Staple foods permitted for purchased under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fall into several categories:
- Cereals and breads
- Fish, meat and poultry
- Fruits and vegetables
Besides fresh products such as deli turkeys and individual bananas, residents are permitted to purchase variations of the same products. For instance, instead of bagged rice, recipients can purchase a frozen meal with rice. Likewise, SNAP benefits will allow a participant to purchase fruit cups rather than fresh fruit.
The varieties of staple foods that are acceptable allow SNAP participants to have a healthy diet while still being able to make choices about their meals. Moreover, these options allow beneficiaries with dietary restrictions to still benefit from SNAP assistance. For example, instead of dairy milk, residents can purchase almond-based milk.
Additionally, certain plants and seeds can be purchased with food stamps. Eligible seeds include those that will produce edible foods. This includes tomato, potato, carrot or beet seeds.
Foods purchased using SNAP food benefits must be from participating and eligible retailers and farmers markets. Most chain supermarkets and grocers accept EBT cards. Additionally, many gas stations and convenience stores are also authorized to take food stamps.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Nebraska
While recipients of food stamps benefits in Nebraska are able to purchase a wide array of healthy foods, they must avoid buying many other types of foods. Some products are easy to identify as ineligible while others are easily confused. SNAP assistance forbids the purchase of non-food items. This includes:
- Hygiene items like soaps and shampoo.
- Cleaning products.
- Paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels.
- Pet food.
Certain products that are made to be ingested are also prohibited. This includes vitamins, medication and supplements. That is because these items are not considered dietary staples by the SNAP program. To identify if a product falls into this category, residents can check to see if the package has a Supplement Facts label.
It is important to remember that alcoholic beverages and products, such as wine, beer and liquor, are prohibited from purchase. Cigarettes and tobacco are also not permitted. Moreover, buying any illegal products is a violation of SNAP food benefits.
While some items are more easily determined to be unqualified for purchase, others are easily confused. For instance, while most foods with a nutrition label are eligible for purchase with SNAP food stamps, many others are not. Foods that are prepared for immediate consumption are one type of product that cannot be purchased with food stamps.
How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Nebraska?
Many residents wonder how their NE SNAP benefits are calculated and why they receive a certain amount. A number of factors are considered when the Department of Health and Human Services decides on a household’s benefits.
The primary factor used in calculating food stamp benefits is the total net income. This is the amount earned by all participating members in a household. The number of members in the home is also essential, as households with additional qualifying members receive a greater amount of benefits.
Prospective beneficiaries may be able to use a food stamp calculator to estimate their benefits. However, it is important to remember that recipients will only know how much they qualify for after the DHHS approves their applications.
You can obtain an approximation of the benefit amount your household can receive by using the net income of all the members in the household. According to food stamps program regulations, participants are expected to utilize 30 percent of their income on groceries. Thus, an estimate can be obtained by multiplying the net income by 30 percent.
While an estimate can be helpful, the Department of Health and Human Services uses more complex and exact formulations. Thus, the estimate may be significantly more or less than the actual amount allotted.
To learn more about the food stamps you may receive, download our free guide today.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Nebraska?
SNAP benefits in Nebraska are allotted to accepted households. However, it takes some time for the DHHS to complete the application process and review verification documents. The process can take 30 to 45 days from the date of submission.
Once approved, a participating household will begin receiving benefits for the month in which it meets the requirements for benefits. If that is the month in which they applied, then SNAP food benefits will be available for that month. Typically, when residents apply later in the month, they will receive reduced benefits for that month but their full allotment the next month.
Applicants who demonstrate an immediate need for food assistance and qualify for the expedited process can obtain benefits within seven days of application submission.
After participants begin receiving their food stamp benefits, they will continue receiving them on the same day each month. The specific day that benefits are disbursed depends on the participants’ Social Security number (SSN). These funds will be automatically deposited into an EBT account and available for immediate use.
Last Updated: February 24, 2023