The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on a national level. The program is designed to help low-income Americans afford groceries on a monthly basis and has historically been referred to as food stamps. In Vermont, SNAP is referred to as 3SquaresVT and administered through the Department for Children and Families (DCF).
Eligibility for the assistance program is based primarily on a household’s size and income levels. Applicants will be required to provide detailed information about their sources of income, household expenses and demographics. Once a family is approved for benefits, they will be issued an electronic balance transfer (EBT) card that can be used in the same way as a debit or credit card. Read on for more information about SNAP assistance in Vermont.
Learn About Vermont Food Stamps Requirements
The easiest way to determine if you are eligible is to apply. However, Vermont food stamps eligibility is based primarily on income and household size. The SNAP income guidelines are based on the federal poverty level (FPL) for varying household sizes. In general, households will need to meet both gross and net monthly income limits.
Gross monthly income refers to all the funds your household makes before taxes and certain deductions are taken out. To qualify, most households may not exceed 185 percent of the FPL in gross monthly income. In net monthly income, the most a household can obtain is 100 percent of the FPL.
In addition to income, there are additional food stamp qualifications to consider. For instance, to be eligible for food stamps you must either be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. Individuals who do not hold proper immigration documentation are not eligible to receive benefits. Additionally, non-citizens with legal status may have to meet additional requirements before achieving full SNAP eligibility. The non-citizen must meet one of the following requirements
- Has lived in the U.S. for at least five years
- Is a child younger than 18 years of age
- Is a refugee or asylee
- Is already receiving assistance because of a disability
Keep in mind that not all members of a household may be eligible for assistance. However, this will not keep eligible members from receiving assistance. For example, if a parent does not have eligibility, but his or her child does, then the parent may apply for SNAP benefits on the child’s behalf.
Finally, in order to maintain food stamps eligibility, all able-bodied individuals without dependents (ABAWDs) in a household must meet specific work requirements. An ABAWD is any individual between 18 and 50 years of age who does not meet specific exemptions such as being declared unfit for work or being the primary caregiver of a child who is six years of age or younger. The ABAWD must participate in at least 20 hours per week in one of the following:
- Work or employment
- A work training program
- Volunteer work at a non-profit
Any ABAWD who fails to meet this requirement will lose his or her SNAP eligibility and be unable to receive benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Vermont
In order to apply for food stamps, you will need to complete multiple steps. First, you must submit an application to the DCF. You may submit an application:
- Online through the state’s web portal.
- By mail.
- In person at a local district office.
In order to submit an application, you must provide certain information. This includes:
- Date of birth for each member of the household.
- Social Security Number (SSN) for each member of the household.
- Pay stubs from income earned from employment.
- Check stubs from unearned income, such as child support.
- Information about the household’s resources.
- Household expenses.
You may choose to submit a partial application with just your name, address and electronic signature if you apply for food stamps online. However, keep in mind that you will still need to provide all of the necessary information for your file to be complete and considered for SNAP assistance. For more information on how to apply for food stamps, download our free guide.
After you submit your application, you will be contacted within seven days by a representative from your local district office to provide any additional information. You will also have to schedule an interview either in person or by phone. The interviewer will ask questions about your specific household situation.
After you completed all the necessary steps to apply for SNAP, your application will be processed within 30 days and you will begin to receive benefits.
Find Out About SNAP Benefits in Vermont
Once you are approved for SNAP benefits, you will receive an EBT card so that you may make purchases. Each month, benefits will be allocated to your card for you to use. The EBT card may be used in the same manner as a debit or credit card.
It is important to be aware of what items your food stamp benefits can and cannot buy, as the rules are very specific. Food stamps are generally able to buy both staple and accessory foods. Staple foods include those that make up the majority of a healthy diet, including:
- Dairy products.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Bread and cereals.
You may purchase these items fresh or in frozen and packaged form. All staple foods are eligible for purchase under the SNAP program. Accessory foods include desserts and snack foods. Even if the food is not considered healthy, it may be purchased using your benefits. Accessory items also include items that supplement meals or are used as ingredients, such as spices.
For more information on what you may purchase using SNAP benefits, download our free guide.
On the other hand, there are some items that are prohibited from purchase using SNAP food benefits. These include:
- Non-food items.
- Medicines, vitamins and supplements.
- Alcohol or tobacco products.
- Live animals.
- Prepared food.
- Hot food.
Prepared or hot food items are prohibited because beneficiaries may not purchase items that are designed to be consumed immediately in-store. While this includes restaurant items, it may also include grocery items such as those labeled “hot-and-ready” or “grab-and-go.”
Name: Department of Children and Families Economic Services Division
Phone Number: 1-800-479-6151
Address: 280 State Drive, HC 1 South, Waterbury, VT 05671-1020
Commissioner: Sean Brown