Learn About Arkansas Food Stamps

Are you thinking of applying for the Arkansas food stamps program? If so, it is important to review the eligibility requirements, application process and your rights and responsibilities if you receive benefits. Otherwise, you risk having your application rejected if you did not submit it in the correct manner or do not abide by the regulations.

This program was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP program, to help fight the stigma surrounding government benefits. In Arkansas alone, approximately 388,000 people receive benefits. More than 76 percent of Arkansas recipients are families with children, and nearly 37 percent are families with seniors or people with disabilities. These recipients have extremely low income, and SNAP helps expand their food budgets.

Learn About Arkansas Food Stamps Requirements

If you want to know how to gain food stamps eligibility, you must learn the requirements established by the federal government and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

First, you must prove that you are a resident in Arkansas and a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen. This is why the SNAP application requires you to submit the Social Security Number (SSN) of every family member who wants to receive benefits. If a family member wants to opt out of the program, leave his or her SSN section blank.

In order to qualify for SNAP food stamps in AR, your family must also meet the work requirements. In effect, every family member who is between 18 and 59 years of age must have a job. This rule does not apply to people with disabilities and people taking care of their children at home.

In addition, the food stamp qualifications state that your income may not exceed a certain amount. The maximum income limit that applies to you will depend on the size of your household. For instance, a family of four will have a higher income limit than a family of three.

The DHS does allow you to make certain deductions, including a medical expenses deduction for seniors and people with disabilities. However, certain assets will be counted towards income, including savings accounts, savings bonds, cash on hand and investments.

How to Apply for Food Stamps in Arkansas

Before you apply for food stamps in Arkansas, you must determine which submission method is best for you. There are four main ways to apply in the state:

  • By phone
  • By mail or fax
  • In person
  • Online

If you want to apply by phone, contact a DHS office. Make sure you contact the DHS in your county, as you are required to apply at your nearest office. You may prefer applying by phone if you are visually impaired, English is your second language or you simply need more assistance while completing the forms.

If you want to send an AR food stamp application by mail, you must first download the appropriate form from the DHS website. Note that the form is a dual application form, and you may apply for another assistance program at the same time. Once you fill out the correct form, mail or fax it to your local DHS office.

You may also fill out this form ahead of time and bring it to your DHS office if you are applying in person. Otherwise, you may request a form directly from your office. Be sure to check the office business hours in advance and make an appointment, if need be.

If you want to apply for food stamps online, visit the DHS application site for federal assistance programs. The site will prompt you to enter a user ID and password, or to create an account if you do not already have one. The online application will ask the same questions as the mail-in application.

In general, it is faster to submit an application online, in person or by fax than by mail. It is important for your DHS office to receive your application as soon as possible, so that you will receive a decision more quickly.

After you apply for SNAP, you are required to complete an interview over the phone or in person. The DHS recommends that you select the family member most knowledgeable about your case to complete the interview. It may be helpful to bring the following documents to the meeting:

  • Proof of your SSN and the SSN of each family member
  • Documentation of your legal presence in the country, if you are a non-citizen
  • Proof of residence
  • And more

You must wait a certain amount of time before receiving an approval or denial decision. You can download our free guide to get the latest information on the SNAP application process.

Find Out About SNAP Benefits in Arkansas

Arkansas SNAP benefits are distributed through electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. These cards look and work like debit cards, which allows recipients to have discretion and helps speed up the check-out process.

If you qualify for benefits, you may use your EBT card at authorized grocery stores and farmers markets. In addition, the AR DHS has a farmers market and farm stand initiative, which allows you to receive a one-to-one dollar match on the farmers market and farm stand products you buy.

If you receive food stamp benefits, remember that you may use them to purchase only approved food items. For instance, you can use your EBT card to buy:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat, poultry and fish.
  • Meat substitutes, such as tofu or bean burgers.
  • Dairy products.
  • Breads, grains and cereals.
  • Snack foods and desserts.
  • And more.

Note that condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar and jam may also be purchased with an EBT card, even though they do not fall into the staple foods category. You are also allowed to buy seeds to grow food-producing plants on your property.

Your AR SNAP food benefits may not be used to buy:

  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Tobacco products.
  • Vitamins, medicines and supplements.
  • Live animals.
  • Hot foods and prepared foods.
  • Cleaning supplies, toiletries and cosmetics.
  • And more.

However, there are certain exceptions for live animals and prepared foods. You may purchase live shellfish from a seafood counter, as it is meant to be prepared and consumed at home. You may also purchase dessert and bread items from the bakery section of a market, even though most prepared foods are prohibited.

The rules of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also state that foods with supplement labels instead of nutrition labels may not be purchased with an EBT card. For example, you may buy regular gummy bears, but not vitamin gummy bears. You can download our free SNAP guide to discover more about the foods you can buy with benefits.

Contact Information

Name: DHS Divisions and Offices

Phone Number: 501-682-1001

Address: Donaghey Plaza, P.O. Box 1437, Little Rock, AR 72203

Director: Keesa Smith and Daan Stehle