The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known by its previous name food stamps, is a government assistance program that helps low-income families afford groceries on a monthly basis. Although this is a federal program that is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP is administered in Utah by the Department of Workforce Services.
Applicants are eligible for the food stamps program based primarily on income and household size. However, other criteria, such as whether or not all capable members of the household are working, are also taken into account when determining eligibility. The application process requires applicants to provide proof of their income, expenses and citizenship. Once they complete their application, they will receive a decision within 30 days. Read on to learn more about food stamps in Utah.
Learn About Utah Food Stamps Requirements
The primary qualification for food stamps is income. The USDA creates SNAP income guidelines based on household size for both gross and net monthly income. Gross monthly income refers to all of your household’s funds before taxes and certain expenses are deducted. Your income includes all incoming funds, including those that come from employment and those that come from other sources such as child support. Net monthly income is your household’s funds after taxes and expenses are deducted.
Most households will need to meet both net and gross income requirements in order to have food stamps eligibility in UT. However, households that have an elderly or disabled member only need to meet the net income requirements.
In addition to the income requirements, food stamp qualifications include citizenship and residency status. In order to be eligible, you must have U.S. citizenship or acceptable immigration status. Acceptable immigration status includes:
- Green card holders.
- Certain victims of domestic violence.
- Victims of human trafficking.
Keep in mind that some of your household members may be eligible for SNAP assistance in UT while others are not. However, eligible members may still receive benefits. For example, if a parent does is not eligible for food stamps, but his or her children are, the parent may apply for SNAP on the children’s behalf.
For more information about the requirements for food stamps, download our free guide.
In order to maintain SNAP eligibility guidelines, all able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) will have to meet work requirements. An ABAWD is anyone between 18 and 59 years of age who does not meet certain exemptions such as being declared unfit to work or being the caretaker of a dependent who is six years of age or younger. In order to meet these requirements, ABAWDs must either work or participate in a training program for at least 20 hours a week. Without meeting these requirements, an ABAWD may not receive benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Utah
You may apply for food stamps in UT in one of three ways. You can submit an application:
- Online through the state’s online portal.
- By mail.
- In-person at an employment center.
On your food stamp application, you will need to provide information about your household, income, expenses and more. Be prepared to provide:
- Your contact information.
- Social Security numbers (SSNs) or Alien Registration Numbers (A -Numbers) for each member of the household.
- Income of every member of the household.
- Household expenses.
After you submit your application for SNAP assistance you will receive a list of items that you need to complete your file. These items will likely include proof of income and expenses. It is important to make sure you return the items to the Department of Workforce Services by the date they provide to you. You may also have to attend a SNAP phone interview. In the interview, you will answer specific questions about your household situation.
In most cases, you will receive a decision about your case within 30 days after you apply for SNAP in Utah. However, if your household has little to no income, then you may receive your benefits in as little as seven days.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in Utah
After you are approved for food stamp benefits in Utah, you will be issued an electronic balance transfer (EBT) card. This card can be used in the same manner as a debit or credit card. Your SNAP allotment will be added to your card on a monthly basis for you to use.
The amount of SNAP benefits you receive will be determined by both your income and your household size. The USDA has preset maximum allotments based on household size. The program also expects households to spend at least 30 percent of their net monthly income on SNAP. Therefore, to calculate the amount of benefits your household will receive, simply calculate 30 percent of your net income and subtract that number from the USDA maximum allotment for your household size.
Once you begin to use your SNAP food benefits, keep in mind that you may only purchase certain items. SNAP may be used to purchase both staple and accessory foods. Staple foods are those that make up the majority of a healthy diet, namely:
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Dairy products.
- Bread and cereals.
- Fruits and vegetables.
Accessory foods include foods outside of the staple category such as snack foods and dessert foods. However, they also include foods that supplement or complement foods including cooking ingredients such as seasonings, oils and flours. All of these items are available for purchase with food stamps. For more information about SNAP benefits, download our free guide.
It’s also important to note that some items are not eligible for purchase under the SNAP program. This includes items such as:
- Pet food.
- Household items.
The program also prohibits participants from purchasing alcoholic beverages, live animals and prepared or hot foods. Any food that is designed to be consumed in the store is not eligible for purchase. This includes both foods served in restaurants or take-out items such as those labeled “hot-and-ready” and “grab-and-go.”
Finally, you may not purchase any medications, vitamins or supplements with SNAP benefits. Although this rule may seem obvious, many times items that may be mistaken as eligible are actually not. For example, some teas are considered supplements instead of food. The easiest way to make this determination is to look and see if the product has a Supplement Facts or Nutrition Facts label. If it has a Nutrition Facts label, it is likely eligible for purchase.
Name: Department of Workforce Services
Phone Number: (866) 435-7414 or (801) 526-0950 (for Salt Lake area)
Address: 720 South 200 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Executive Director: Casey Cameron
Last Updated: February 27, 2023