Florida’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps, helps the state’s residents afford groceries every month. The program is administered on the state level by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). However, the program must meet the guidelines and regulations set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The SNAP program determines eligibility and allocation of benefits primarily on a household’s size and income. However, there may be other considerations taken into account when an applicant applies, such as monthly expenses or citizenship.
Applicants will need to provide detailed information about their household demographics, income and expenses during the application process. Once receiving benefits, beneficiaries must be aware of what products they are able to purchase. Read on to learn more about the food stamps program in Florida.
Learn About Florida Food Stamps Requirements
The main food stamp qualification is based on your household’s income and size. In order to have SNAP eligibility in Florida, your household must meet the SNAP income guidelines for both gross and net monthly income. Gross monthly income includes all sources of income that your household acquires within in a month, including paychecks and other sources of income, such as child support.
Net monthly income is the income left over after taxes and deduction are taken out. Income limits for gross and net monthly income are calculated using the federal poverty level (FPL) standard.
In general, food stamp income guidelines require that a household not exceed 200 percent of the FPL. However, certain households will have to adhere to different requirements. For example, if a household has a disqualified member, then its gross monthly income may not exceed 130 percent of the FPL. Additionally, households with a person who is 60 years of age or older or who has a disability only need to meet net income requirements.
For more information on SNAP income requirements, download our free guide now.
In addition to income, food stamps eligibility includes citizenship and residency. Only individuals who are U.S. citizens or maintain acceptable immigration status have food stamps eligibility. Individuals who live in the country without authorizations are ineligible for any SNAP assistance. Additionally, non-citizens with legal status may need to meet additional criteria before achieving eligibility. The non-citizen must meet one of the following criteria:
- Has lived in the U.S. for at least five years
- Is a child younger than 18 years of age
- Already receives assistance for a disability
- Is a refugee or asylee
Finally, able-bodied individuals who are 18 to 50 years of age are required to perform at least 80 hours of work or participate for an equivalent amount of time in the state’s work program. These work requirements are part of the SNAP eligibility requirements and must be met unless an individual meets certain exemptions, such as being declared mentally or physically unfit for work. Individuals who do not meet these requirements will not be eligible for more than three months of assistance within a 36-month period.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Florida
In order to apply for SNAP in Florida, you will need to provide information about each member of your household, including their citizenship and income. You may apply in one of the following ways:
- By mail
- By fax
- In person
If you do not apply for food stamps online, you will need to locate the local customer service center for the Department of Children and Families. This is where you will submit your application if you choose not to do so online. If you apply by mail, by fax or in-person, be sure that you complete the correct food stamp application form.
For more information about how to apply for food stamps, download our free guide.
After you submit your application, you will be notified within five days if you need to provide an interview. In the interview, you will be asked questions about your household situation, and you may be asked to provide additional documentation, such as proof of income or citizenship. You will be notified in writing of any additional information you need to provide.
It may take up to 30 days to process your application after you apply for SNAP. In that time, you may check your application status through the state’s online portal or by calling their automated service system.
Find Out About SNAP Benefits in Florida
Once your application is approved, you will be issued an electronic balance transfer (EBT) card so that you may use your SNAP benefits at any participating store. EBT cards are used the same way you would use a credit or debit card.
It’s important to keep in mind that your food stamps benefits will only allow you to purchase certain goods. These benefits are designed to help families access healthy meals. Therefore, staple foods, or foods that make up the majority of a healthy diet, are all available for purchase with SNAP benefits. Staple foods include:
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Dairy products.
- Produce such as fruits and vegetables.
- Bread and cereal.
You may purchase staple foods fresh, but frozen and packaged foods are also acceptable. You may also purchase accessory food items with your food stamp benefits. Accessory foods include snacks and dessert items. This also includes food that supplement and complement meals such as seasonings and oils.
Although there is a wide array of items eligible for purchase using food benefits, there are some items that are ineligible for purchase under the program. These include all non-food items, even if these items are also sold in a grocery store. In general, you may not purchase the following items using SNAP food benefits:
- Non-food items, such as:
- Pet food
- Household products
- Live animals
- Prepared or hot food
- Supplements, medicines or vitamins
However, your SNAP benefits can be used to purchase plants and seeds that you can use to grow food for your household.
Name: ACCESS Florida Customer Service
Phone Number: 1-866-762-2237
Address: P.O. Box 1770, Ocala, FL 34478