The Vermont Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is known as 3SquaresVT. The program is often referred to nationally as food stamps. Even though the program is administered at the state level by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), it is regulated at the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Food stamps benefits in VT help low-income families across the nation access groceries on a monthly basis. Families qualify for benefits based primarily on their income level. These benefits are delivered through an electronic balance transfer (EBT) card that may be used in the same way as a debit card at the cash register. The amount that families are able to spend using SNAP assistance will depend on their household size and income level at the time of application.
Once you apply for SNAP benefits and are approved, it’s important to understand what your SNAP benefits can purchase. In general, you will be able to buy most food products with very important exceptions such as prepared or hot foods. Read on for more information about food stamps in Vermont.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Vermont?
Vermont SNAP food benefits are intended to help families purchase healthy meals on a regular basis. Therefore, all types of staple food items, or those that make up the majority of a healthy diet, are available to purchase using food stamps. Staple food items include:
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Dairy products.
- Bread and cereal.
- Fruits and vegetables.
You may purchase staple items fresh or in a frozen or packaged form. Because these items are essential to a healthy diet, there are little restrictions on purchasing them using food stamps.
The other category of items you can purchase with SNAP benefits is accessory food items. Accessory foods are items that do not fall within one of the subcategories above. This will include certain snack foods and desserts despite that these items are not considered healthy choices. It also includes beverages such as juices and sodas. Finally, accessory food items may include items that complement or supplement meals such as seasonings, flours and oils.
Generally, any food item may be purchased with food stamps as long as it does not have any disqualifying characteristics.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Vermont
There are certain items that cannot be purchased using your SNAP assistance in Vermont. The largest category of these products is nonfood items. Even though this may seem obvious, keep in mind that many necessary products may not be purchased with food stamps despite being sold at grocery stores. Examples of these kinds of products include:
- Household products.
- Pet food.
- Cosmetic products.
Additionally, you should be aware on the limitation on purchasing other kinds of products. SNAP food benefits may also not be used to purchase:
- Alcohol or tobacco products.
- Hot or prepared food.
- Medicines, vitamins and supplements.
- Live animals.
The food stamps program is not designed to purchase food that is meant for immediate consumption. This not only includes food served at restaurants, but it also includes prepared food items sold at convenience or grocery stores.
For example, many groceries sell rotisserie chickens that are ready for consumption at the point of purchase. This item would not be eligible for purchase using your SNAP benefits. To help you identify these sorts of items, look for labels like “hot-and-ready” or “grab-and-go.”
Be aware that many items that appear to be food items may actually be considered supplements. For example, some energy drinks are considered accessory food items while some are considered supplements.
You can tell the difference between the two by looking at the product label. Generally, if the item has a Nutrition Facts Label, it is likely eligible for purchase. Alternatively, if the product has a Supplement Facts label, you may not purchase it using your food stamps benefits.
For more information on what you can and cannot purchase using food stamps, download our free guide.
How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Vermont?
The amount of Vermont food stamps benefits you will receive is determined by your household size and income level. Overall, the USDA has preset maximum SNAP allotments for households of different sizes.
As a general rule, the DCF will not grant a monthly allotment higher than the predetermined maximum. As a SNAP benefits recipient, you are expected to contribute 30 percent of your net monthly income towards food.
To estimate how much you can expect in benefits, multiply your net monthly income by 0.3. Then, subtract the figure you get from the maximum allotment permitted by the USDA. This figure is the amount your household may qualify to receive in food stamps benefits.
Alternatively, you may choose to use a food stamp calculator to get an idea of how much you may receive in benefits if you meet the program’s eligibility requirements. This tool is free and available online. To use it, simply input information about your household income and demographic information. Then, the tool will estimate the amount of benefits you may be eligible for.
For more information about how to use your food stamps benefits, download our free guide.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Vermont?
After you undergo the application steps for VT SNAP benefits, your case will be processed within 30 days by DCF. However, in some cases, you may qualify for an expedited processing period. To qualify for expedited processing, you must have little to no income at the time of application. For example, if you make less than $150 a week, then your case will be processed within seven days.
In any case, you will receive food stamp benefits from the date when you applied. Your benefits will be delivered through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. You can use your EBT card in the same way you would use a debit card at a cash register. To do so, you will also need to select a personal identification number (PIN). Each month, your card will be reloaded with your pre-determined monthly allotment.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023