Learn how to get nutritious food for yourself and your family through SNAP (food stamps), D-SNAP, and WIC for women, infants, and children. Apply for school meals for your kids and supplemental food for seniors. Find out how food programs can provide emergency help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immediate Food Assistance
If you’re hungry now:
Call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273). Information is available in English and Spanish. The hotline operates Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern Time.
Contact community or religious organizations to find a local food bank or food pantry.
Food Stamps (SNAP Food Benefits)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program. Known previously as "food stamps," SNAP benefits can help you stretch your food budget if you have a low income.
Learn About the Types of Food You Can Buy With SNAP Benefits
If you’re eligible, you can purchase food using benefits that are issued to you monthly. You can use your SNAP benefits to buy a variety of foods for your household, including:
Fruits and vegetables
Meat, poultry, and fish
Breads and cereals
See the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) list of foods and products you can buy using SNAP benefits.
Find Out If You Are Eligible for SNAP
To determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you must meet certain requirements. States have income limits for SNAP recipients. They can also factor in your resources, such as money in the bank, to decide if you qualify for SNAP.
Apply for SNAP Benefits
Use the online map to apply for SNAP and to find your state and local offices and phone numbers. You may also apply in person at your state or local office.
How Your SNAP Benefits Work
Your state will issue benefits each month on a plastic electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Much like a credit or debit card, you can use your EBT card to buy eligible food items. You must buy them from:
Some states have websites set up for managing your benefits. If your state doesn't have an EBT management website, you can contact your state SNAP office to check your benefits.
File a Complaint About SNAP
Whether you currently receive SNAP benefits or you're in the process of applying, you can file a complaint using these resources:
SNAP Information For Retailers
Learn how to work with SNAP if you are a retailer or if you operate a farmers market.
Food Stamps and Meal Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be easier for you and your family to get food stamps and take part in meal programs. Contact your state's social services agency to see if you're eligible.
During the pandemic:
People can enroll in food programs remotely rather than in person. This applies to programs for pregnant women, families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Read about these and other government meal program changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WIC Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
This short-term program can help you get healthy food for yourself and your young children.
Learn About the WIC Program
Many low-income women and young children can get healthy food to add to their diet. It’s available through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC also offers nutrition counseling and referrals to health, welfare, and social services.
Find Out If You or Your Children Are Eligible for the WIC Program
If you’re applying for yourself, you must be at least one of the following:
If you’re applying for your children, they must be under 5 years old.
You must meet other WIC eligibility requirements based on your income, your health, and where you live.
Apply for the WIC Program
Contact your state or local WIC agency for an appointment. When you call, someone will tell you where to apply and what to bring with you.
Learn More About the WIC Program
Your agency may not have enough money to serve everyone who needs WIC. In that case, it will maintain a waiting list and use a priority system to decide who will get WIC benefits first.
For more information and help applying, contact your state or local WIC agency. You can also call its toll-free number.
Free School Meals for Children
These programs can help you get healthy meals for your children at their school, childcare center, or after-school program.
Learn About School Meal Programs
Children from qualified households with a low income can get healthy meals or milk.
Two programs provide free or reduced-price meals at school:
Schools that don't offer meal programs may provide milk to children at school.
The Summer Food Service Program offers free breakfast and lunch over summer break.
Find Out If Your Children Are Eligible for School Meal Programs
Your children automatically qualify for free meals or milk if:
Your children may qualify if your household income is within the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. These guidelines are based on federal poverty guidelines.
If your income is no more than 130 percent of the poverty level, they should qualify for free meals.
If your income is no more than 185 percent of the poverty level, they should qualify for reduced-price meals.
The summer food service program is open to all children and teens 18 and under at locations around the country. Find a site near you.
Learn How to Apply for School Meal Programs for Your Children
Submit an application from the school. You can do this at the beginning of the school year or at any time if circumstances change.
Learn How to Get Help or File a Complaint About School Meal Programs
Contact your local school or school district for more information.
Free Food Programs for Seniors
Two federally-sponsored programs aim to get nutritious foods to seniors with a low income.
Learn About State Food Programs for Seniors
Most states offer these programs for seniors with a low income:
Find Out If You're Eligible for State Food Programs for Seniors
You may be eligible if you're:
Learn How to Apply to State Food Programs for Seniors
To apply for either program:
If either program is not on the list, you may not live in an area that offers the program.
Other Food Programs
You may qualify for other programs like:
Check with your senior community center to learn about other local resources.
D-SNAP Helps With Food Costs After a Declared Disaster
If the president authorizes individual disaster assistance for your area, you may qualify for D-SNAP.
Learn About D-SNAP
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is also called food stamps for disaster situations. D-SNAP provides one month of benefits on a debit-type card that you can use at most grocery stores.
Once your state sets up a D-SNAP program, you have about a week to apply.
If you qualify, you receive benefits within three days.
Find Out If You Qualify for D-Snap
You live where:
The president has declared individual assistance for a disaster
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service has approved states to operate D-SNAP
Yours has requested and received approval to operate D-SNAP
You may qualify for D-SNAP even if you would not qualify for regular SNAP (food stamps) because:
If you already receive SNAP, you can apply for D-SNAP if you do not get the most allowable under SNAP and have disaster-related losses.
As a separate benefit, you may be able to get free meals for your children or your entire family. School meals programs provide these meals.
Apply for D-SNAP
Contact your local SNAP office to apply for D-SNAP or find application sites throughout the affected disaster area.
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Last Updated: August 19, 2021