It can feel like prices at the grocery store just continue to rise. With the ever-increasing price of food, goods, and products, most of us could do with a little help in the shopping department.
Thankfully, there are some government programs that are designed to provide free or low-cost groceries for families with low income who find it difficult to cover food and other basic necessities.
One such scheme is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Also known as food stamps, this program helps cover the cost of nutritious food from participating retailers.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) delivers these benefits even quicker than the normal application timeline, allowing qualified recipients to access funds for food instantaneously if they qualify for expedited benefits.
The usual application procedure for SNAP can take up to 30 days. However, the government can accelerate emergency SNAP benefits, typically delivering them in less than a week. In certain areas, recipients can access emergency food stamps within just three days.
Eligibility for SNAP is determined by the state based on your income and resources. To apply for emergency food stamps, you must usually show proof of immediate need, like a low balance in your savings account or spending more than what you earn.
The state sets income standards and may include additional criteria, like mandatory participation in job searches. Yet, emergency food assistance for seniors and those with disabilities typically does not include work requirements.
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) is an additional emergency food assistance service. D-SNAP can issue emergency EBT cards within 72 hours, preloaded with enough funds to cover a month’s food expenses. However, before D-SNAP can distribute food assistance, it requires approval from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to operate in a disaster area.
Certain individuals might be eligible for D-SNAP benefits even if they do not meet the state’s SNAP standards. Some of the qualifying conditions are:
- Expenses for home or business repairs
- Moving costs
- Temporary housing expenses
- Disaster-related medical costs, such as personal injuries or funeral expenses
- Lost income, for instance due to job loss or delayed salary payments
State announcements about D-SNAP benefits are usually broadcasted through local press and media following the declaration of a disaster.
Food Banks and Local Programs
USDA emergency SNAP benefits also extend to organizations that supply food to those in need. The government can award grants to food charities – such as “soup kitchens” and food banks – that serve the local community. These charities then have the means to purchase food, tableware, cutlery, and so on.
A food pantry is a place where you can obtain meals and food to take away. They get their supplies from food banks, which usually rely on donations from local people and volunteers. Food banks typically stock items such as:
- Canned fruit
- Canned soups
- Canned meats, like tuna, chicken, and sardines
- Shelf-stable milk
- Juice boxes
Feeding America food banks are available in almost every state, but accessibility to such organizations is not universal. For information on local food pantries, reach out to local religious organizations and nonprofits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted daily living costs. Prices for housing, food, and utilities have increased, and in some regions, a new round of stimulus checks may be forthcoming.