Food stamps in Iowa aim to help families and individuals who are struggling to afford food on a monthly basis. Formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), this benefit is extended to approximately 380,705 residents in the state.
The SNAP program is a federal nutrition program that provides funds through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to millions of low-income individuals and families who are deemed eligible. In Iowa, the state Department of Human Services (DHS) administers these benefits to qualifying residents.
With SNAP assistance, you can receive help to afford a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables and poultry. Not only does this allow you to stretch your food budget, it also helps you achieve a balanced diet. Fortunately, the application process is fairly simple and can be completed in several different ways. To learn more about this nutrition program in Iowa, continue reading below.
Learn About Iowa Food Stamps Requirements
General requirements for food stamps eligibility in Iowa include:
- Being a state resident in Iowa
- Being a U.S. citizen or legal noncitizen
- Having a low income that does not exceed the pre-determined income limits
The SNAP program sets income limits every fiscal year according to the changes related to the cost of living. While gross income limits are set at 130 percent of the federal poverty level, net income limits are set at 100 percent of the poverty level. In Iowa, households are eligible for SNAP benefits if their monthly income does not exceed 160 percent of the poverty level.
In order to qualify for this program, you must meet both gross and net SNAP income guidelines. Your gross income is the amount of money you make before taxes, while your net income is what is left after certain deductions have been made. Allowable deductions include but are not limited to:
- Housing costs, such as electricity and water
- 20 percent of your earned income
- Medical expenses for seniors and/or people with disabilities
- Court-mandated child support payments
Additionally, you must not have more than $2,250 in countable resources. This amount totals $3,250 if there is a senior or person with disabilities in your household. These resources include any cash, bank accounts or vehicles you may have. Certain resources, like your real estate property and pension plan, do not count as countable resources.
In addition to these income guidelines, you must meet certain employment requirements to meet SNAP eligibility in Iowa. For example, you must already work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours per week in order to be able to maintain benefits for more than 3 months.
On the other hand, you will not be subject to these employment requirements if you are younger than 18 years of age, a senior, a pregnant woman or have a disability that limits your ability to work. Download our free guide to learn more about SNAP requirements.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Iowa
All low-income households can apply for food stamps online, in person or by mail, depending on their preference. The DHS application allows families and individuals to apply for the Family Investment Program (FIP), SNAP and Child Care Assistance (CCA) programs simultaneously.
Before applying online, you can complete an assessment that tells you which programs you may qualify for. Despite the fact that this is not a required step, it can help you determine whether or not you meet SNAP eligibility. You also have the option submitting an online application directly. The process takes about 10 to 25 minutes to complete. By registering online, you can save your application as you go and return to it at a later time.
You also have the option to apply for SNAP by downloading the application from the official state portal and mailing it to the address listed on the form. Moreover, you may visit your local DHS office in person and submit the application or request further assistance.
When filling out the food stamp application, you will need to provide personal information such as your name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN). You will also need to provide the SSNs of all the members of your household who plan to receive assistance. Even if you are not applying for a certain member of your household, you will still need to list his or her name, date of birth and relationship to you.
During your food stamp application, you can expect to be asked questions regarding your criminal history. You will also need to answer questions about your household’s combined income, expenses and financial resources. Download our free guide to learn more about the SNAP application process.
Find Out About SNAP Benefits in Iowa
If you are deemed eligible for the nutrition assistance program, you can expect to receive SNAP benefits in 30 days. In some cases, you may be able to get food assistance in seven days. However, in order to qualify for this emergency service, you must meet certain qualifications. For example, you can receive expedited benefits if your household gross monthly income is lower than $150 with assets.
The total amount you can receive in food stamp benefits is dependent on your household’s size and income. The lower your income, the more you can expect to receive from the maximum benefit amount. If you are a household of four, you can get up to $642 in benefits, depending on your income. On the other hand, a household of one can receive up to $192 in benefits.
Iowa SNAP food benefits will be transferred to your EBT card on the same day of every month. You can use your card at any approved grocery store, convenience store or farmers’ market to buy a variety of nutritious foods. While SNAP encourages a healthy diet, you can also purchase certain junk foods and sweets with your food stamps. However, there are certain food and nonfood items that are off-limits with SNAP benefits.
Name: Iowa Department of Human Services
Phone Number: 1-877-347-5678
Address: 2309 Euclid Ave, Des Moines, IA
Director: Gerd W. Clabaugh