In 2020, almost 4% of American households had very low food security at some time. It might not seem like much, but 4% accounts for 5.1 million people. If you are struggling to pay for food, there are several government programs available to help you keep your family fed.
There are several different programs that can help pay for nutritious food including Food Stamps and WIC. Learn more about these programs below.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps, is the largest food assistance program in the country. This program offers low-income individuals and families monthly benefits for food-related expenses. The monthly benefits are deposited into an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and the amount depends on the size and income of the family.
You will need to meet specific criteria to qualify for Food Stamps in your state, including:
- income and resources limits
- citizenship requirements
- work requirements
Once you qualify, you can receive benefits back to the time you applied. Also, once your certification period (the period of time you receive benefits) ends, you will need to recertify your benefits and continue meeting the requirements if you want to keep getting benefits.
If you have a low income and children in school, you may also qualify for school meals.
If you live on a reservation and are a member of a Federally-recognized tribe, you may qualify for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. You will need to meet income requirements and recertify every year to continue receiving benefits. If your household has elderly or disabled members, you may be certified for up to 24 months.
Additionally, if you are a senior citizen and need food assistance, you may qualify for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program provides food and nutrition assistance to low-income women who are either pregnant, breastfeeding, in postpartum or have children ages 5 or younger. You will also need to meet an income standard (100%-185% of the federal poverty income guidelines). If you have applied to other programs and currently receive benefits, you could be automatically be determined income-eligible for WIC.
To apply, contact your local WIC office and set up an appointment and on the day, bring the documentation indicated. Keep in mind that some WIC agencies don’t have enough resources to help everyone, so you might be placed on a waiting list if this happens.
Depending on whether you are pregnant, in postpartum, breastfeeding or with children age 5 or younger, you may have a longer or shorter certification period.
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