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Food Stamps, News,

How a Tech Startup Is Helping Families Find Out If They Qualify For SNAP

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In June 2019, a House Agriculture subcommittee implored to discuss the 2018 farm bill as Democrats and Republicans instituted their opinions against Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility rules.

 

The inquiry was initiated to scrutinize the potential effect of restraining broad-based definite eligibility in SNAP, which the current administration plans to recommend this year after a related proposal was not incorporated in the 2018 farm bill. There was a hot exchange of arguments when Republicans presented a millionaire from Minnesota who allegedly got SNAP benefits to prove a point about eligibility principles. Democrats, on the other hand, declared it as a ridiculous stunt.

 

Sophisticated cat-el policy, as it’s identified, permits around 43 states to grant SNAP eligibility to families if they’re receiving a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit. Under this policy States fix the traditional asset limits for SNAP, helping more low-income households getting eligible.

Revised Guidelines

According to the adjustments in the previous guidelines issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the revised Income Eligibility Guidelines to be used to ascertain the qualification of a household for SNAP will remain in effect from 1st July 2019 till 30th June 2020 (1 year). The same will be used by the schools and other similar institutions taking part in a range of food assistance programs offered to most deserving school children and adults under the Russell National School Lunch Act.

These annual revisions are made to harmonize the eligibility standards with the yearly changes in Consumer Price Index, for free or subsidized price meals under the National School Lunch Program under the Richard B. Russell National School Act.

The said School Program consists of the School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program for Children, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program.

Income

The Federal income poverty guidelines provide a basis for the said guidelines which are calculated against the family size of the applicant household to verify their eligibility for the food assistance program. The term ‘Income’ in the eligibility manual means the total net income before paying any taxes or insurances and include:

  • Any monetary compensation i.e. wages, salary, commission or fees
  • Income from nonfarm or farm self-employment
  • Social security
  • Dividends on savings or bonds income
  • Rental income
  • Payments from welfare programs including child support payments
  • Unemployment assistance
  • Pension payments
  • Private donations from nonfamily members
  • Royalties etc.

 

But the income term is not used for benefits or cash received under any Federal assistance program which are, by law, excluded to be considered as a family’s income. Besides the price, any form of food assistance offered to children under this School program will not be counted as income when applying for any other benefit program.

Family

Similarly, for SNAP, the family size is vital to get qualify for the program and is equally important for applying families to determine who should be considered part of the family. Different benefit program has a different definition of household, SNAP considers all those living together under one roof, or preparing and buying of preparing food together as a family. For example, an adult child of a family living in the same house but purchasing food independently is not considered a member of that household in the SNAP definition.

 

A tenant whom you have rented out part of your house can not be considered family member and the rent amount will be taken as income while evaluating the eligibility.

 

There are exceptions also like dependent children and those under 22 years of age are counted as a member of the household regardless of their purchasing or preparing food with family or on their own. Another exception is for households with elderly and disabled members, who are considered family members as they are unable to cook food for themselves and the family does do for them.

 

An elderly patient living with a family but buying the food separately for himself/herself, in that case, the elderly person will be officially counted as a member of the household.

 

The given criterion of the family for SNAP is not different from other Federal assistance programs like Medicaid, where the family members are limited to those declared dependents on the tax documents. In SNAP, a friend living with a family sharing food is considered part of the household. It only requires that the proof that all those people are physically living together along with all the income coming into the house.

Eligibility Evaluation Service by a Tech-Company

 

A not for profit tech startup company called mRelief is helping people to know whether they meet the criteria for SNAP benefits. They have developed a questionnaire with 10 simple questions and an individual or a family can answer those questions to know their eligibility without spending a long time waiting in the agency’s office or making phone calls.

Genevieve Nielsen, co-founder of the company said that their goal is to provide the facility for everybody to access the safety net programs.

 

This initiative has unlocked over $91 million in SNAP benefits. There are an estimated 9 million SNAP-eligible people in the United States not receiving this vital food support just because they do not know they can receive this assistance. One-third of these non-participating eligible people live in California, where this tech company is based and where it plans to concentrate, but not limited to, offering its evaluation and information services

 

The mRelief also found massive disorganization of federally funded assistance programs offered in the city of Chicago, where according to the company, over 10,000 applied for housing assistance but only a meager 600 could qualify. The statistics reflect an immense wastage of time for those applying and staff involved in dealing with the whole evaluation process. The company focused the provision of its evaluation services on SNAP applicants and also foresees the potential for expanding their support to other similar programs.

 

According to the company’s official statement, it costs around $13 to enroll a household, whereas that household receives $1,000 in remuneration during the initial six months of this food assistance. This means that the company can provide this vital service in a highly cost-effective manner saving precious time and money for the applicants and the dealing agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Stamps, News,

Frauds in SNAP and What the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Is Doing To Guard It

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Fraud is a deliberate action that breaks federal and/or state laws, not unintentional mistakes. Certain acts, such as trafficking SNAP benefits, are always considered fraud; other acts, such as duplicate enrollment, may be the result of either error or fraud depending on the circumstances of the case.

SNAP frauds are comparatively rare, according to available data and reports. There is no single gauge that reflects all the forms of fraud in SNAP. There are some frequently cited procedures that describe some parts of the issue

The official Congressional Research Service report on the errors and frauds in The Food Stamp program, updated in September 2018 highlighted the following facts about the fraudulent practices in the program.

Frauds in SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) commonly known as Food Stamps,  is the nation’s principal food aid initiative, assisting over 42 million people (with a federal cost of around $68 Billion per month in the year 2017). The program is managed together with state agencies, which take care of most recipient functions, while the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) watch over the states and handles most retailer functions.

In a program of these proportions with various stakeholders, detecting, preventing, and addressing fraud and deception is complicated. Food Stamp program is usually been reauthorized in a farm bill roughly every five years; this happened last time in 2014.

Policymakers have long been struggling in dropping interested in dropping fraudulent practices and refining payment precision. Provisions associated with these objectives have been included in last farm bill reauthorizations.

There are four main types of inaccuracy and misconduct in SNAP:

  1. Trafficking SNAP benefits: It is the unlawful sale of SNAP benefits in exchange for cash or controlled substances (firearms or explosives etc) and it can entail both retailers and beneficiaries of the program. This is considered as one of the most serious forms of SNAP fraud that diverts federal funds from the intended purpose.
  2. Retailer application fraud: This practice generally relates to an illegal effort by a store owner to participate in SNAP when that particular store or owner is not eligible for that service. To obtain SNAP authorization, applicant retailers must meet certain requirements, including stocking and business integrity standards. Avoiding disqualification during the application’s review process can be a potential source of fraud. Another kind of this fraud entails a store owner attempting to prevent ineligibility from SNAP by engaging in a supposed sale or transfer of ownership; after which the new purported owner applies to participate in SNAP, claiming that the former disqualified owners are no longer connected with the store
  3. Errors and fraud by households applying for SNAP benefits: In addition to the above, errors and fraud can take place during the evaluation of qualification and benefit sum for beneficiaries resulting in wrong payments. These could be either deliberate or unintended violation of program rules.
  4. Errors and Fraud by state agencies:—this can either be any intentional effort by state employees or state officials to illicitly produce and benefit from SNAP overpayments to favor the applicant. If a state agency commits mistakes it results in inaccurate payments; the debate of agency fraud mainly centered on certain states’ Quality Control (QC) misconduct.

Measures to Control the Fraud

USDA-FNS has specific laws to correct the mentioned frauds and has taken a number of measures to guard the very occurrence of these above particular practices.

  1. In case a retailer accepts or redeems SNAP benefits in violation of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (FNA), that retailer may be forced to pay back the amount that they criminally transferred. USDA-FNS also has the authority to publicly reveal the store and owner name for disqualified retailers. Retailers engaged in trafficking can be criminally charged and reprimanded with fines up to $250,000 and detention up to 20 years.
  2. In the case of falsification of retailer’s application then the retailer’s application is to be denied for a period ranging between three years to a permanent disqualification depending on the severity of fraud.
  3. SNAP certification is the procedure of determination of applicant’s eligibility to receive food stamp support. It is one of the chief responsibilities of state agencies (with federal oversight). Under-issuance or over-issuance of SNAP benefits can be the possible Errors (i.e., recipient errors and agency errors) that take place during this process.
  4. Agency errors generally occur due to the fact potential human error, and training and supervision of eligibility workers is the primary measure of diminishing them.

On top of the above corrective measures, USDA works to assure that only those households receive the SNAP benefits who are qualified for that and correct amounts are provided to those recipients. Over the last many years USDA has initiated major steps to improve the service quality of this program vital for the poor and vulnerable masses. make sure that only those families who are actually eligible for the program participants, and that the correct amount of benefits is provided to them.

Consequently, over 99 percent of SNAP beneficiaries, crosschecked by SNAP’s Quality Control (QC) system, proved to be eligible. At the same time, the payment accuracy was found 96 percent.

The precious resources coming from the taxpayers’ hard earned money were saved and now payments errors are half the numbers they were a decade ago.

Through Stronger Rules and strict oversight by the federal government USDA requires state agencies involved in the SNAP program have a foolproof system of verification of documents and electronic data including the Social Security Master Death File, Social Security’s Prisoner Verification System, and FNS’s Electronic Disqualified Recipient System, prior to recommending individuals for the benefits to prevent ineligible people receive benefits aimed to help the poorest.

Food Stamps, News,

Food Stamps Are Expanding to Low-Income College Students

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SNAP for College Students

Back in November 2018, the New Jersey Department of Human Services announced new rules that will allow more poor college students to receive SNAP benefits. The food aid was planned to be offered to career and technical education students at community colleges, which is considered to be a top priority for Hunger-Free New Jersey according to the officials of the State.

It was estimated that around 67,000 poorest college students — several of whom face the awful choice of continuing their education or having something to eat- will benefit from this expansion of the program.

The Middlesex County College is among the pioneers of this new offer that opened a food pantry for students in early 2018. New Jersey Human Services Commissioner announced during his visit to the University that the SNAP will be offered to students in community college career and technical education programs. The advocates from Hunger Free New Jersey termed the condition of the low-income college students a hidden crisis on college campuses. New Jersey Human Services discussed and researched on how to tackle food insecurity among college students, expand SNAP eligibility for them, and raise understanding of food assistance on college campuses.

National studies reflected that around 40 percent of community college students reported being food insecure, which meant a not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of reasonable, nutritious food.

While addressing the students in the University Human Services Commissioner Johnson said “SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, which is a year-round problem for far too many people, including students who too often are forced to worry about food instead of their studies. Students learning employable skills in New Jersey’s community colleges should not be left behind when it comes to this crucial nutritional assistance program.”

 

Eligibility for New Jersey program

Those college students who are at least half-time students participating in state-recognized employment and training program will be eligible. The State Administration will now recognize all approved Career and Technical Education Programs at New Jersey community colleges as eligible SNAP employment and training programs.  Students qualifying for SNAP income eligibility standards and participate in these training programs will now have access to this critical food assistance.

The New Jersey’s administration, which is the first one to extend the offer to students, is committed to helping families by investing in access to quality and affordable childcare that helps allow students to attend classes and by providing this expanded and vital food assistance for eligible career and technical education students. For a lot of students, this initiative will make a remarkable difference which will not only mitigate potential barriers in the education of many but also make it possible for more college students to complete their degrees and succeed in life.

 

Proposed Bill the College Student Hunger Act of 2019’

Recently in early July 2019 a United States Senator and one of the Democrat’s presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts along with Rep. Al Lawson, a Florida Democrat introduced a bill aiming to make low-income college students eligible for SNAP benefits under.

The bill called ‘the College Student Hunger Act of 2019’ would amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to include eligible college students for a federal Pell grant or whose families are considered low-income.

While introducing the bill Sen. Warren said, “As more and more students struggle to afford college and take on a mountain of student loan debt, nearly one in three college students cannot even afford necessities like food, our bill will ensure students have the support they need to work toward a better future without going hungry.” This bill is presented in continuation of a letter signed by many Senators including Warren submitted in February 2019 requesting a study on food insecurity at universities and colleges countrywide.

According to the official statement of the US Department of Agriculture, a majority of people between ages 18 to 49, who are enrolled in college with no disabilities, are not qualified for the program, with an exception for some students in state-designated work and training programs. The proposed legislation emerged months after a Government Accountability Office report identified that 2 million at-risk college students who could be eligible for SNAP didn’t receive benefits in 2016.

The other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Ed Markey, another Massachusetts Democrat and Kamala Harris, a California Democrat also running for president. Seven House Democrats co-sponsored the legislation, including Rep. James McGovern. Democrats on Beacon Hill welcomed the proposed draft of the legislation, including Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sal DiDomenico, Sen. Anne Gobi, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, and Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy.

The Contents of the Bill

The proposed bill would lower SNAP’s current work requirement for college students from 20 to 10 hours per week as the work requirement can often cause students to drop out of college because they struggle to balance work with classes and homework. Besides, the bill requires the Education Department to notify low-income students about their potential SNAP qualification.

In addition to informing states and educational institutions about student eligibility for SNAP benefits, the bill would also require the USDA to inform and launch pilot projects to try methods to make SNAP more reachable to students, including using SNAP to buy prepared food from participating dining halls.

Rep. Lawson also echoed Warren in a statement saying “The significant increase in college tuition over the last decade has forced students to choose between buying food or paying for books and housing expenditures. This bill will help to relieve some of that financial burden for them.”

Study

Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice surveyed nearly 86,000 college students from 123 schools and established that nearly half are “food insecure.” It was also found during the research that 45% of study participants often or sometimes are nervous that they do not have money to buy food or that their food will run out before they have the money to buy more or that they do not afford balanced meals. Currently, just 60% of first-time full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A 2018 U.S Government Accountability Office report reflected that there are roughly 2 million college students in the U.S. who qualify for SNAP benefits but do not receive them. The GAO report analyzed food inaccessibility among college students in four states: California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Michigan. In Massachusetts, researchers did site visits of a two-year institution, Bunker Hill, and a four-year institution, the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

At present, SNAP eligibility differs from state to state, but the common condition is that the most non-disabled college students do not qualify unless they meet requirements beyond standards. For example, some poor students who have a disability or who are caregivers to a dependent family member can qualify for SNAP.

 

The chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy said he is aware of the issues that a huge number of college students having to choose between meals and materials for school. He maintained that with ever-increasing education costs, this legislation would provide concrete ways to assist students with the nutrition they need to thrive.

 

 

 

Food Stamps, Pennsylvania,

Pennsylvania Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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What You Need To Know

Low-income households can suffer from the absence of various necessities. To fulfill their nutritional needs, the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been set up. Originally labeled as the Food Stamp Program, the United States Department of Agriculture established this program for food benefits. This allows families to be provided with a healthy diet as well as education on food preparation. Therefore, SNAP helps them to buy eligible food in authorized retail food stores.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has been helpful in the domestic hunger safety net. It is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) which carries out various collaborations. These collaborations are down with state agencies, nutrition educators, neighborhood and faith-based organizations. These make sure that the eligible families receive proper nutrition assistance. This would help them to make informed decisions especially if they wish to apply for SNAP and enjoy its benefits.

The amount of people that SNAP is currently catering to amounts of $1.8 Million. These include children, older adults, people with disabilities and able-bodied adults without dependents. These benefits are places in an electronic account through a process known as Electronic Benefits Transfer. The qualified family receives an EBT Access card which allows them to make the necessary withdrawals for their food needs. There is a specific amount placed in the card which can be used by the family, therefore t is not to be treated like a credit card. Therefore, to check the balance of your SNAP benefits, the last receipt must be kept. You can also call the available hotline, 1-888-EBT-PENN. They have even set up an online portal where you can view your transaction history and learn about EBT.

Are You Eligible?

The first and foremost requirement for the benefits program is that you must be a resident of Pennsylvania. The annual household income then comes into play. The amount before taxes is considered and therefore, it must be less than or equal to:

Size of Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 16,237
2 21,983
3 27,729
4 33,475
5 39,221
6 44,967
7 50,713
8 56,459

In case the household size is greater than eight, then for each additional person, an amount of $5,746 is added. It is a good step to contact your managing agency for the recent guidelines. That will avoid any problems from taking place.

There is an online tool available to check your eligibility for the SNAP benefits. Making use of it may prove helpful as well. Certain local criteria must be passed for qualification as well. Therefore, it is recommended that steps be taken by the person to contact their community program. This would allow them to gain the correct information and guidance they require.

How To Apply

There are two specific ways once can go through the process of SNAP in Pennsylvania. If you believe you are eligible for this benefit program, you can pursue any option that suits you:

  • The application portal for this process is available online. Therefore it can easily be accessed by the residents of Pennsylvania if they believe they require these benefits. In case further information is required concerning the application, there is also a page available online. It outlines the Pennsylvania Application for Benefits, thus handling any confusion that the person may have.
  • In-person, the application process can also be carried out. The application can be downloaded through appropriate sites. It can be filled and then give to the county assistance office. This document is present in both English and the Spanish version to cater to the majority of the population.

To apply you must be one of the following:

  • The head of the household
  • The spouse of the head of the household
  • Any other responsible household member
  • A designated authorized representative

To make sure that households with residents above 60 or with disabilities are catered to as well, there’s an option. They can make use of the simple SNAP application. It can help them in purchases and preparations of food.

The maximum benefits that are provided depend on the family size of a household. The latest information has been given below:

Size of Household Maximum Benefits ($)
1 192
2 353
3 505
4 642
5 762
6 914
7 1,011
8 1,155

 

For Further Information

There is also a PA SNAP page available for further details. It can easily be accessed by the public for any required information. Moreover, a service center has been set up in various parts of the state which is why the county assistance office must be reached out to. Its contact information is easily found. If you wish to get in contact with your office, a contact us page outlines all the necessary details we need.

 

Food Stamps, Ohio,

Ohio Food Assistance Program

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What You Need To Know

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal benefit program known as Ohio Food Assistance Program in Ohio. Its objective is to improve the health of Ohio residents through nutritional education and other similar factors. The program provides qualified individuals with benefits that help them in the protection of their health. It eliminates the hurdles that may take place due to the low income of these people. The program hopes to provide to any household, whether there is one individual in it or many. Either way, it is for the people who purchase, prepare and eat their food together.

The administration of this program has been done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). It is monitored with the help of the Office of Families and Children. Through the use of financial aid, the food assistance program is able to provide help to thousands of people. Ohio’s low-income families take great help from the cash assistance provided. They don’t have to worry about food purchases and can instead pay off their utilities.

This financial aid is provided to people through the help of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. It is like a credit card in nature but solely for food purchases. It can be used to buy food from approved and authorized retailed. EBT provides the families to easily access their benefits whilst also remaining secure.

The amount given to each family may differ. This is because the amount provided is dependent on various factors including the individual’s income. Emergency SNAP benefits have also been set up for certain families. These households usually have no income and resources below the amount of $100. Applying for these benefits will lead to benefit collection within 24 hours.

Are You Eligible?

There is an eligibility criterion established to help out the most deserving people. The applicant must be a resident of the state of Ohio. Along with this, they must also meet one of the following aspects where they have:

  1. A current bank balance under $2,001. This includes both the savings and checking.
  2. A current bank balance under $3,001 and share the house with either
  • A person aged 60 or above
  • A person with a disability.

The annual household income is also taken into consideration. The amount before tax deductions is expected to be either less than or equal to the following figures:

Size Of Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 16,237
2 21,983
3 27,729
4 33,475
5 39,221
6 44,967
7 50,713
8 56,459

It is possible that a household may have more than eight people. In that situation, an additional $5,746 is added per person. To ensure that you are up-to-date with the most recent and accurate guidelines, the managing agency must be contacted.

Qualification is also dependent upon cooperation with child support and employment. This helps the program to make sure that the financial aid goes out to help the most worthy. Once the initial requirements are met, an interview is set up which determines eligibility.

A pre-screening tool is also available to check eligibility. It can be found on the website of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition’s Service (FNS). It is not the final application, but simply a method to check the potential of receiving benefits.

There is certain information required that is taken into account, even for the pre-screening tool. This includes the following:

  • Daycare expenses
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utility bill
  • Child Support
  • Financial Resources and assets
  • Earned Income

How To Apply

There are different ways of applying for this program. The variety allows a greater amount of people to apply for it. This is because they can simply choose the option they are most comfortable with to pursue it.

An online website is available for the application process. This makes the whole procedure easier for those who wish to apply from the comfort of their home. A local SNAP Administering Agency is present in counties to help with the application process. The directions to the local agency can be found through online resources. Lastly, there is also a hotline available which can be used for the same purposes.

For Further Information

In case of queries or confusion, online websites have been set up. They offer the information we require to make a decision. The Ohio Food Assistance information can be found on the Ohio Office of Family Assistance.

You can also have direct contact with a representative through telephone. The number available allows you to get in touch with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. They will guide you regarding the program, clarifying any information you are uncertain about.

614-466-6282

Food Stamps, New York,

New York Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

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What You Need To Know

The Women, Infants, and Children Program have been specially set up to cater to the nutritional needs of these categories. It is a special supplemental food program. This means that it aims to safeguard the health of those women, infants, and children who are at nutritional risk. The children must be below the age of 5. WIC provides various benefits to its qualified individuals. Amongst these, there is:

  • Nutritious food,
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Information on healthy eating
  • Referrals to health care.

All these services are provided to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women. Along with these, infants and children under 5 are also eligible. The information distributed by this program includes other health care data as well. It highlights where these people should apply for free or low-cost health care and other needed services. Administration of the New York WIC has been carried out by the New York Department of Health.

To avail the services of WIC, you will receive:

  • WIC food checks
  • A WIC Acceptable Foods booklet
  • A WIC ID Card
  • WIC Participant Rights and Responsibilities

If the caregiver is unable to bring their child to WIC appointments, they can authorize someone else to do so. However, it is important to make sure that the entrusted person is reliable.

Are You Eligible

The requirements for this program range from basic needs to more specific criteria. It has been listed below as:

  • You must be a resident of the state of New York
  • You must be pregnant, breastfeeding and/or postpartum woman; or
  • You must be an infant or child below the age of five.
  • You must be at nutrition risk according to the knowledge of a health professional.

The program has been set up for mainly those people whose financial situation disables them from receiving such services. Therefore, the annual household income, before any tax deductions, is expected to be less than or equal to the following:

Size Of The Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 23,107
2 31,284
3 39,461
4 47,638
5 55,815
6 63,992
7 72,169
8 80,346

In certain cases, the household has more than eight people. An additional amount of $8,177 must be added per person if this is the situation. It is vital to keep in contact with the managing area of your county. This will prove helpful as it will keep you updated about the guidelines and their accuracy.

A WIC pre-screening tool is available to check the eligibility of a person. It can be used to find out the potential of the person in qualifying for the program. It is not the final application and should not be treated as one.

How To Apply

An eligible individual can start his or her application process through the help of the closest WIC office. An appointment can be set up with them that help the person to gain guidance and assistance concerning it. This would allow the person to go through the procedure more easily. It would also lead to the chance of acceptance.

There are certain documents required to complete your application. These must be taken by the person when they visit their local agency. Amongst these documents, there must be proof of:

  • Income for everyone in the household
  • Your identity
  • Your place of residence
  • How you are one of the people served by the WIC.

There are other additional health forms also required which must be present with you. This will also lead to the quickening of the process. Once the forms and documents have been reviewed, the WIC staff will conduct a health screening. This would be required from all the family members that wish to be a part of WIC. The short health screening will include:

  • Finger stick blood test
  • Height and weight
  • A discussion of your health and nutrition concerns.

Such information will also help the WIC staff to choose the most suitable packages for you and your children. In case a mother chooses not to breastfeed, the WIC will even provide the appropriate formulas from their approved list. If you or anyone in your family has special nutritional needs, they’ll be recorded through a WIC Medical Documentation Form.

For Further Information?

The New York Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children has a website. This online page can be referred to in case of any confusion a person may have. The NY WIC has also set up a hotline to cater to the needs of people. The Growing Up Healthy Hotline will assist you in locating the nearest WIC agency as well.

1-800-522-5006

 

Food Stamps, New York,

New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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What You Need To Know

The food stamp program is labeled as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in New York. Its objective is to provide people with appropriate nutritional education. It has been administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This helps to safeguard their health as well. The benefits of the program are availed with the help of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This card is similar to a debit card or credit card. This makes the process easier and simpler in many ways. An EBT account is set up for qualified individuals. The monthly benefits allow the person to purchase the approved goods from an authorized retail food store.

SNAP benefits allow the household to mainly purchase the following goods. However, it is not limited to them:

  • Bread and cereals
  • Seeds and plants that can help to grow food for the household
  • Dairy Products
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish, and poultry

On the other hand, SNAP benefits cannot be used by the household to purchase:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Hot foods
  • foods that will be eaten in the store
  • Non-food items that include pet foods, soaps, and other household supplies or vitamins and medicines.

Are You Eligible?

There are certain program requirements of the SNAP Program. To qualify for it, you must, first and foremost, be a resident of the state of New York. Other bases for qualification include factors like

  • Household size
  • Income
  • Assets
  • Any other relevant information.

The household income and size are both considered together. This is because the annual income of the household must either be less than or equal to the following amounts. It is important to remember that the earning before any tax deductions is considered by the authorities.

Size of The Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 16,237
2 21,983
3 27,729
4 33,475
5 39,221
6 44,967
7 50,713
8 56,459

Certain households have more than eight residents. For these households, an extra amount of $5,746 is added per person. It is important to keep in touch with the managing agency in your area. they will be able to provide you with the appropriate guidance required concerning this program. This contact would also ensure that the person follows the most accurate guidelines present.

It must be kept in mind that income is not the only determinant in ensuring qualification. Other factors are taken into account to decide the allocation of the SNAP budget. Therefore, if an individual believes that they are eligible for the program, they must apply. However, no surety is given at any step.

Moreover, to make the process easier for people, a pre-screening tool has been set up online. This tool helps to determine the eligibility of the person. It is not the final application but simply a way to check the potential of qualifying.

How To Apply

You can apply for the New York State SNAP through two methods. They have been set up to cater to a large number of audiences. This way, people can go ahead with the option that suits them the best.

The first method is through an online portal. Internet is easily available to all which makes it easy for people to access the information. They can visit the appropriate site where the application can be found. This method allows you to fill the application from the comfort of your home. Once the form is completed, it is reviewed by the SNAP office. They are the ones who set up and conduct interviews in order to determine the eligibility of the household.

The program has also made it possible for people to apply through mail, fax or in person. They can simply mail or fax the application to the local Department of Social Services or SNAP office. If it is possible for you, you can visit in person to submit your application as well. The benefits program allows for a great number of people to apply for it. This is because they cater to the diverse people of the state by releasing forms in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean and Russian.

The nearest SNAP office can be found through the help of the internet. You can easily contact or approach it as you see fit.

For Further Information

To clear out any confusion, SNAP has set up a website which can be visited. It has outlined the frequently asked questions and their answers.  Information can also be acquired through the USDA SNAP hotline number. They will cater to any queries or issues that a person may have.

1-800-221-5689

Florida, Food Stamps,

Florida Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

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What You Need To Know

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been set up for women, infants and children. It helps low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or non-breastfeeding postpartum. Along with these, it also provides for infants and children below the age of five, who are at nutritional risk.  This program has been administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). It consists of federal grants which provide supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education. It can be said that this program aims to improve the nutrition and food intake of these specific individuals.

The WIC aims to safeguard low-income women, infants, and children. It achieves this by providing the following services without any cost:

  • Healthy foods
  • Nutrition education and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Referrals for health care
  • Community services

The foods involved in this program are designed to supplement a person’s diet. This is achieved through specific nutrients. Amongst the authorized foods of WIC, there is

  • Infant cereal
  • Baby foods
  • Iron-fortified adult cereal
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamin C- rich fruit or vegetable juice
  • Dairy products
  • Soy-based beverages
  • Canned beans and fish
  • Other whole-grain options

The qualified individuals of this program are able to access their benefits through an EBT card. It helps them to purchase approved foods at authorized retailers. It is vital that the balance of the EBT Card is checked before any shopping takes place. There is a toll-free number as well as a website set up for such purposes. Some stores even have a Point of Sale machine available for balance checking.

The WIC program can help to make pregnancies safer by reducing any chances of premature births and infant mortality rates. Improved nutrition for these children can also contribute to long term benefits. According to statistics, WIC candidates have had an increase in healthcare cost savings.

Are You Eligible?

There are certain basic requirements for this program. These include that the applicant must be

  • A resident of the state of Florida
  • Pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women
  • Infant or child below the age of 5
  • Labeled to be at nutritional risk by a medical professional. Two major types of risks come under this eligibility, namely, medically-based risks and dietary risks.

The household income is also considered once the above aspects are present. Therefore, the amount before tax deductions must either be less than or equal to the following figures:

Size Of Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 23,107
2 31,284
3 39,461
4 47,638
5 55,815
6 63,992
7 72,169
8 80,346

If there are more than eight residents present in a house, then an additional amount of $8,177 is added. It is advised that the person remains in touch with the managing agency in the local area. This would help in ensuring that the most recent and accurate guidelines are followed.

Eligibility for the WIC program can also be checked through the help of an online tool. The WIC Prescreening Tool will help you to find out whether or not you should go through the application process. This tool is not an application but simply a check.

How To Apply

In order to apply for the benefits of WIC, a local agency must be approached. With a properly scheduled appointment, you can approach the application process in a simple and quick manner. They will require household income as well as the medical status of each applicant. These agencies are responsible for determining the eligibility of applicants. Once qualified, they are also responsible for the benefits and services provided as well as the authorization of vendors.

It has been stated in the USDA Non-Discrimination Statement that no discrimination should take place. This includes any bias-ness that can occur regarding race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal. People with disabilities are also provided with appropriate means of communication. This helps in making sure that their needs are catered to.

For Further Information

In case of further queries or confusion, Florida’s WIC Program page is available. It can be visited through the help of the internet. As WIC is a federal program, the information concerning it can be found on USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children program page. Similarly, if you wish to converse on the telephone, a list of toll-free numbers is available. You can find it on the USDA FNS website.

In case of any problems with the EBT Card provided for purchases, customer service is available at:

1-866-629-1095

 

Florida, Food Stamps,

Florida Food Assistance Program (SNAP)

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What You Need To Know

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the food stamp program set up by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Florida, it is called Food Assistance program. It has been established to provide food benefits to the residents of a low-income household. This includes accessibility to health diet as well as education concerning food preparation and nutrition. The qualified individuals of this program make use of an electronic card to spend their benefits. It is similar to an ATM card which can be used to buy food from authorized retailers.

SNAP had been set up to help tackle any hunger problems that may take place. Therefore, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has administered it. It helps the member of the program to make more informed decisions about nutrition. In order to properly execute its operations, FNS takes the help of state agencies, nutrition educators and neighborhood-based organizations. They can also help them in ensuring that the benefits are properly accessed and made use of.

The acceptable purchases in this program are the food and plants and seeds required to grow food. It is not acceptable to purchase the following items:

  • Nonfood items
  • Pet food
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Vitamins
  • Medicine
  • Food that you will consume in the store
  • Hot foods

The applications for this program are available in English, Spanish, and Creole which helps to cater to a larger audience.

Are You Eligible?

It is vital for the applicant to be a resident of the state of Florida. Along with these, there are other certain requirements that need to be fulfilled. This includes:

  1. They must have a current bank balance under $2,001
  2. They must have a current bank balance under $3,001 and share the household with either
  • A person aged 60 and above, or
  • A person with a disability.

The annual household income is also considered. The amount before taxes must be less than or equal to:

Size Of Household Maximum Annual Income Level ($)
1 24,980
2 33,820
3 42,660
4 51,500
5 60,340
6 69,180
7 78,020
8 86,860

In case, the household size is greater than eight, an additional amount of $8,840 is considered. Therefore, it is a good step to consider getting in touch with the managing agency in your area. They will be able to provide you with the most recent and accurate guidelines.

There is also a pre-screening tool available to check the eligibility of SNAP. This tool requires you to look up the amounts of your:

  • Earnings
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utility bills
  • Child support
  • Daycare expenses
  • Medical bills, in case you are 60 or above, or disabled.
  • Any other payments.

Programs like these also offer services that have their own criteria. It is recommended that the person approaches the program in their community to gain more specific information. Low-income families who are able to fulfill such eligibility criteria can also consider other programs like

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Medicaid coverage

How To Apply

Application for this program is present on the online portal of the Florida Department of Children and Families. This makes the accessibility of the application process easier for people. They can simply apply from the comfort of their homes. They will simply be expected to enter all the necessary information into the application. Its accessibility makes it the fastest way to receive Food Stamps.

Florida agencies consider the receiving date of the completed application as the official data. The working days in this regard is considered rather than the weekend or holidays. The time duration for acceptance or rejection of the application can range from 7 to 30 days. It depends on the financial situation as well as other factors involved in the application. It is possible to also apply for the food stamp through the mail. It is easy to obtain a copy of the application through the local SNAP office. It can also be downloaded from the website. Either way, the applicant can then fax or return the form to the Florida Department of Children and Families center. In case such a customer service center is not available, other community partners can be considered.

For Further Information

In case of queries or any extra data required, General Information about Food Assistance is available on websites. Moreover, there are even other ways to contact the local SNAP office. The FNS has set up appropriate websites to help you get in contact. There is more than one way so that the person can adopt the method they feel most comfortable with.

 

Food Stamps, News,

Eligibility Guidelines for Child Nutrition Programs 2019-20 Announced

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Child nutrition programs

 

This federal program is aimed to help guarantee that children in the United States have proper access to nutritious food. The program offers meals in a variety of manners including the provision of food in schools, summer programs, childcare homes, and after school programs. The brief description of the components of this program includes;

 

  1. National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

The NSLP is a federally funded meal program working in public, not for profit private schools and childcare institutions providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day since 1946.

  1. School Breakfast Program (SBP)

This program offers reimbursement to states to provide nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), States and local food authorities manage this program at respective levels.

  1. Special Milk Program (SMP) 

This program supply milk to children in schools and childcare institutions who do not participate in other federal meal assistance programs. The schools are reimbursed for the milk they provide to children especially pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs where kids do not have the right to use to the school meal programs.

  1. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

This program also provides reimbursements for food to entitled children & adults, registered for assistance at different participating childcare centers, day-care homes, and adult daycare centers. Under this program, the centers are reimbursed for food offered in afterschool care programs, children residing in emergency shelters, seniors above 60 years or disabled.

  1. Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

This program is funded and managed by the federal government pays back operators who provide free meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income localities.

  1. Team Nutrition (TN)

This is again a USDA endeavor to assist the child nutrition programs through technical assistance for foodservice, diet education for children, their care-providers, school and community support.

  1. Office Community Food Systems (OCSF)

The Office of Community Food Systems supports program operators incorporate local foods in the programs as mentioned earlier. Additionally, OCFS staff also coordinates with tribal communities to answer to their desire to better include traditional foods into our meal programs through the provision of funding, technical assistance, and research.

Eligibility criterion 2019-20

In March 2019 the USDA food and Nutritious Service announce the eligibility criterion for the Child Nutritious Program known as the Income Eligibility Guidelines. These are used to verify the qualification of the applicants for free and subsidized price meals and free milk from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

 

These guidelines are supposed to be used by institutions and other services participating in the different components of the Child Nutritious Program. The eligibility guidelines are adjusted on an annual basis and required by section 9 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to align with the changing Consumer Price Index.

 

This current notice of adjustments in the eligibility requirements has been decided to be not significant and was not evaluated by the Office of Management and Budget. The related programs are listed in the Assistance Listings and are subject to the provisions of Executive Order, which needs intergovernmental coordination with officials at the local and state level.

 

These given eligibility guidelines are developed following the Federal income poverty guidelines with family size as a major basis in harmony with appropriate program rules.

 

What is Income

 

For the school program, as it is formally known, the Food and Nutrition Service’s eligibility manual defines ‘Income’ as the earning before any form of deduction i.e. income taxes, Social Security taxes, insurance premiums, contributions in charity, etc.

It includes;

  1. Wages, salary, commissions or fees;
  2. Income from farm & nonfarm self-employment;
  • Social Security payments;
  1. Bonus or profit on savings or bonds including income from trusts;
  2. Rental income;
  3. public support or welfare payments including unemployment assistance:
  • retirement pension payments;
  • child support payments;
  1. Private donations from persons not included in the household;
  2. net royalties; and

 

It is important to mention that “Income”, here, does not include any cash or benefits obtained under any program administered through Federal government, that are barred from consideration as income by any legal exclusion.

 

On top of this, the price of food or milk to children shall not be taken as income to their households for other benefit programs.

 

Income Eligibility

The following are the Income Eligibility conditions for the families to qualify for the Child Nutrition program for the period starting from July 2019 to June 2020. The Department’s guidelines for this federal assistance for children were calculated by multiplying last year’s minimum wages with income poverty guidelines by 1.30 and 1.85, respectively, and by rounding the sum upward to the next whole dollar.

This notice reflects only the annual Federal poverty guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as the monthly and weekly guidelines are not used to establish income eligibility.

These are rather calculated based on the following formulas:

  • For monthly income Annual income is divided by 12;
  • Bimonthly income is worked out by dividing annual income by 24;
  • Weekly income is figured by dividing annual income by 52.

 

The numbers reflected in these adjusted guidelines are for a family of four in the 48 contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Guam and the territories represent an increase of 2.6 percent over last year’s level for a family of the same size.