Food stamps: what if you lose your eligibility?

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According to Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 18 million Americans do not have enough to eat at least some of the time in any given month, and more than 5 million are often hungry. Many of them can sum up their precarious situation like this: I earn too much for food stamps, but I can’t afford to buy food.

Find out: What is the highest income for food stamps in 2022?
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About 41.23 million people in 21.61 million households rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on their tables. But many more are excluded from the country’s biggest hunger initiative – formerly known as food stamps – because of the program’s strict income limits.

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If you’re one of the many Americans living with the uncertainty of earning too much to qualify for SNAP, but too little to pay for the food your family needs, you’re not alone.

Here’s an overview of the qualifications for SNAP, along with some of your other options.

What are the SNAP income limits?

Here are the gross and net income limits for SNAP eligibility, based on household size, in the 48 contiguous states through September 30. Thresholds are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

  • 1: $1,396 gross, $1,074 net
  • 2: $1,888 gross, $1,452 net
  • 3: $2,379 gross, $1,830 net
  • 4: $2,871 gross, $2,209 net
  • 5: $3,363 gross, $2,587 net
  • 6: $3,855 gross, $2,965 net
  • seven: $4,347 gross, $3,344 net
  • 8: $4,839 gross, $3,722 net
  • Each additional person: +$492 gross, +$379 net

Income is part of the problem, but politics also plays a role

At the start of the pandemic, Congress increased SNAP benefits by 15% and bumped all eligible recipients up to the maximum payment allowed for their household size. In 2021, the Biden administration increased additional assistance to at least $95 for each household.

Although the federal government funds it, the states administer SNAP. In states that have rescinded their own emergency declarations, residents would no longer receive the enhanced benefits.

According to Pew, at least 16 states — all led by conservative opponents of the current administration — have opted out of the enhanced benefits.

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Federal SNAP Alternatives for Struggling Households

If you earn too much to qualify for SNAP, or if your state has opted out of the enhanced benefits you need to avoid food insecurity, you may qualify for one or more of these federal programs:

  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): WIC provides dietary supplements to low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and not breastfeeding after delivery. The program also provides food for infants, toddlers and children under five. Over 50% of babies born in America receive help from WIC.
  • National School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs: The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs serve approximately 7.4 billion meals to schoolchildren in eligible households at little or no cost each year.
  • Commodity Dietary Supplement Program (CSFP): This program serves low-income seniors aged 60 and over by distributing food parcels. The packages contain USDA healthy products, but they are not intended to provide a complete diet.
  • The Emergency Food Aid Program (TEFAP): TEFAP provides temporary emergency assistance to households facing short-term food insecurity in partnership with local food banks.
  • Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP): SFMNP provides locally grown fresh food to over 800,000 seniors.
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reserves (FDPIR): If you are part of a low-income household on a reservation or other approved location, you may be eligible for the FDPIR.
  • USDA National Hunger Helpline: Call (866) 3-HUNGRY or (877) 8-HAMBER for assistance locating and connecting to meal distribution sites, food pantries and food banks.

Most aid comes from the state or local level

The USDA states that most nutrition assistance programs funded by the department’s Food and Nutrition Service are administered at the state and local levels. Visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service contact map page to find available programs in your state and all of their phone numbers, addresses, websites, and other relevant information.

You should also visit Feeding America, which is the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. A network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, Feeding America serves nearly every community in all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. FeedingAmerica.org maintains a comprehensive database of local food banks that you can search by zip code.

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Follow food purchasing best practices

Whether you have an EBT card or not, you can save money on groceries by following the most commonly cited tips from shopping and personal finance experts around the world:

  • Sign up for your store’s rewards program
  • Pay with a grocery rewards card
  • Take the time to look for paper and digital coupons
  • Buy with a list and stick to it
  • Shop the sales
  • Buy generic or store brands
  • Use rebate, cashback, or coupon apps like Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, Rakuten, and Coupons.com

We hope this will help anyone struggling with food insecurity get the help they need.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was previously one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as a business editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as an editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication at the heart of New York’s Wall Street investment community. .

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