With the pandemic raging on, you may be wondering how to obtain emergency food stamps. You’re already struggling with finances and scrambling to keep your family afloat amid these uncertain times. Keeping everyone nourished, especially when money is scant, can be extremely stressful. Waiting for more money to appear on your EBT card when you desperately need it can be equally stress-inducing.
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Thankfully, there’s hope. You can apply for emergency food stamps without having to wait for your EBT card to get a monetary boost. First, let’s dive into what food stamps are, how you can obtain emergency food stamps, and who qualifies.
What Are Food Stamps?
Food stamps are part of S.N.A.P (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). It’s the federal nutrition program that provides a monthly stipend to low-income families that qualify based on a myriad of prerequisites. States have income limits, so be sure to check out your state’s specific S.N.A.P. requirements.
S.N.A.P. eligibility is determined via your household income and whether you fall below the federal poverty level. To apply for S.N.A.P. benefits, you must do so through your own state. You have to contact your state agency directly to apply, since guidelines vary from state to state. Click here to find a S.N.A.P. state directory. You can also click here to get the S.N.AP. Retailer Locator, to see where you can use those benefits.
If you’re eligible, you’ll receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Money is automatically transferred to your card every month. The amount you receive will be dependent on your income and other factors. When you receive your card depends on your income status. If you’re lower-income, then you should get it within seven days. Your benefits will start from the time you applied.
Once you’ve received your EBT card, you can use it to purchase various grocery items at certain shops and retailers. You can even utilize your card outside your state of residence.
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How Can I Get Emergency Food Stamps?
You can also receive emergency food stamps or, as mentioned on the USA.gov site, you can get “Immediate Food Assistance.” If you desperately need food now, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-800-3-HUNGRY (1-800-348-6479), which is open Monday through Friday between 7 am and 10 pm EST.
Additionally, the USA.gov site suggests that you contact “community or religious organizations to find a local food bank or food pantry.” However, the USDA also offers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which might be of more use. You may qualify for T.E.F.A.P. if you receive food from your local food bank or if you eat at an assistance facility like a soup kitchen. Like S.N.A.P., you’ll need to contact your State Distributing Agency for further aid.
Of course, emergency food stamps are essentially “expedited” S.N.A.P. benefits. If you make less money than the average S.N.A.P. recipient, then you should receive your benefits at a faster turnaround than most. You’ll find that states are currently much more lenient with the ongoing, pervasive presence of COVID-19. Again, reach out to your state’s social service agency to see if you’re eligible for expedited S.N.A.P. benefits.
Who Qualifies for Emergency Food Stamps?
Your eligibility is dependent on your state’s unique guidelines and qualifications. Your income status in comparison to the federal poverty level also plays a role. A handful of factors will determine your eligibility. If you’re approved, you should receive either an in-person or telephone interview on the same day you submitted your application.
If you fall well under the poverty line, then you’ll likely receive emergency food stamps at a faster rate. You should receive your benefits within seven calendar days from the date of your application. So, you could feasibly get your EBT card before that seventh day. The seven calendar days include weekends and holidays.
It is possible to receive emergency food stamps. Help is just around the corner. Click here to find your state social agency and get started.