Important: Emergency Snap Allotments Are Ending In December
Last year because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the federal government authorized the issuance of emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for households across the nation. These emergency benefits added to the normal amount of SNAP benefits each month as long as a state of emergency existed in our state. Tennessees State of Emergency Order ended in November 2021, so the additional emergency SNAP benefits some SNAP recipients have been receiving will end for their households as of December 31, 2021.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families. SNAP helps supplement monthly food budgets of families with low-income to buy the food they need to maintain good health and allow them to direct more of their available income toward essential living expenses. DHS staff determines the eligibility of applicants based on guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture . The primary goals of the program are to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and to improve nutrition and health in eligible households. DHS has a dual focus on alleviating hunger and establishing or re-establishing self-sufficiency.
Learn How To Apply To State Food Programs For Seniors
To apply for either program:
Select your state or territory from this nutrition programs contact map.
From the list of available programs, choose a food program for seniors:
Commodity Supplemental Food Program
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
If either program is not on the list, you may not live in an area that offers the program.
Snap Benefits And Financial Assistance Application Snap Recertification Click Here
When you submit your application, you will receive a receipt with your tracking number. This means we have received your application. DHS will contact you for your interview.
Due to the increase in applications and the subsequent workload at Processing Centers, there may be delays in processing and replies to voice mails. Providing you with timely service is very important to us.
There are 3 ways to submit your application:
*Paper form Once complete, you may print and sign the form, then mail it, or drop it off at a processing center as noted above.
Current Recipients of SNAP:
Some of the information about in-person contact below is not applicable during the COVID-19 crisis:
During normal circumstances, the form is also available for pick up from all State benefits offices. After you have filled out your application and gathered all the required paperwork to verify your information, visit the benefits office closest to your residence.
|Note: 200% BBCE MGI is based on 100% SNAP/FPL|
Monthly Application Timeliness Rates FFY 2022
Monthly Participation Rates SFY 2022
ARCHIVE SNAP Monthly Participation Rates
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You Can Apply For Many Of Our Services Online
PLEASE NOTE: DHS has implemented COVID-19 precautions for all visitors entering office lobbies across the state. These rules will impact customers coming into state offices for scheduled in-person appointments.
- Arriving alone to drop-off or pick-up documents or take part in scheduled in-person appointments.
- Answering COVID-19 health screening questions.
- Maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others.
- Not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
Some interview requirements have been temporarily waived for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits. Customers filing initial applications and recertifications are not required to visit an office provided their identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications have been completed.
First Food Stamp Program
The idea for the first food stamp program has been credited to various people, most notably Secretary of AgricultureHenry A. Wallace and the program’s first administrator, Milo Perkins. Of the program, Perkins said, “We got a picture of a gorge, with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other. We set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm.” The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture by permitting people on relief to buy orange stamps equal to their normal food expenditures for every $1 of orange stamps purchased, 50 cents’ worth of blue stamps were received. Orange food stamps could be used at any food retailers or wholesalers, but excluded achoholic beverages, concession stand meals that could be eaten on premises, and tobacco products. The blue stamps could only be used to buy what the USDA defined as surplus produce- which included items such as beans, eggs, fruit, and the like.
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And One Of The Following Exemptions Is Also Met:
- Are 17 years old or younger, or 50 years old or older
- Are physically or mentally unfit
- Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits
- Are enrolled in a TANF Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program
- Work at least 20 hours a week in paid employment
- Participate in a state or federally financed work study program
- Participate in an on-the-job training program
- Care for a child under the age of 6
- Care for a child age 6 to 11 and do not have adequate child care enabling you to attend school and work 20 hours a week or participate in work study
- Are a single parent enrolled full-time in college and taking care of a child under 12 or
- Are assigned to or placed in a college or other institution of higher education through:
- A program under WIOA
- A program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974
- An employment and training program under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 or
- An employment and training program for low-income households operated by a state or local government, so long as the program has at least one component that is equivalent to a component under SNAP E& T.
Renaming The Food Stamp Program
The 2008 farm bill renamed the Food Stamp Program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and replaced all references to “stamp” or “coupon” in federal law with “card” or “EBT.” This was done to mark a more explicit focus on providing nutrition. It was also done to reduce usage of the stigmatized phrase “food stamps”.
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Immigrant Status And Eligibility
The 2002 Farm Bill restores SNAP eligibility to most legal immigrants that:
- Have lived in the country for 5 years or
- Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits or
- Have children under 18
Certain non-citizens, such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence, may also be eligible for SNAP. Eligible household members can get SNAP benefits even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible.
Eligible Food Items Under Snap
As per USDA rules, households can use SNAP benefits to purchase:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- fruits and vegetables
Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are classified as food items and are therefore eligible items. Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items.
Energy drinks which have a nutrition facts label are eligible foods, but energy drinks which have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements, and are therefore not eligible.
Live animals and birds may not be purchased but live fish and shellfish are eligible foods. Pumpkins are eligible, but inedible gourds and solely ornamental pumpkins are not.
Gift baskets containing both food and non-food items “are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50 percent of the purchase price. Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the price.”
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Expanded Snap Eligibility For College Students During The Covid
During the COVID-19 emergency, there are new rules for the SNAP program which will allow more college students to get benefits.
- If you are a student eligible to participate in a state or federal work-study program, you may now also be eligible for SNAP, even if you arent currently employed in work-study.
- If your expected family contribution is $0, and you meet other SNAP eligibility requirements, you are eligible for SNAP.
*Your EFC is found in your Student Aid Report and it is calculated based on information provided in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid .
These new SNAP eligibility rules will last until one month after the public health emergency from COVID-19 is officially lifted. If you are able to get benefits thanks to these new rules, your benefits will last until your next recertification even if the public health emergency is ended first.
How Do People Apply For Snap
Each state designs its own SNAP application process, following federal guidelines. In most states, households apply in person at the local SNAP office, though they can also mail or fax their applications, and most states have online applications. Applicants must participate in an eligibility interview, which can often be on the phone. They must also document numerous aspects of their eligibility, including their identity, residency, immigration status, household composition, income and resources, and deductible expenses.
Households found to be eligible receive an EBT card, which is loaded with benefits once a month. Household members may use it to purchase food at one of the 263,000 retailers authorized to participate in the program. More than 80 percent of benefits are redeemed at supermarkets or superstores. SNAP cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, vitamin supplements, non-food grocery items such as household supplies, or hot foods.
Households must contact the local SNAP office to report if their income goes up dramatically. They also must reapply for SNAP periodically, typically every six to 12 months for most families and every 12 to 24 months for seniors and people with disabilities.
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Welfare Reform And Subsequent Amendments
The mid-1990s was a period of welfare reform. Prior to 1996, the rules for the cash welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children , were waived for many states. With the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform act, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 , AFDC, an entitlement program, was replaced that with a new block grant to states called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families TANF.
Although the Food Stamp Program was reauthorized in the 1996 Farm Bill, the 1996 welfare reform made several changes to the program, including:
- denying eligibility for food stamps to most legal immigrants who had been in the country less than five years
- placing a time limit on food stamp receipt of three out of 36 months for Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents who are not working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a work program
- reducing the maximum allotments to 100 percent of the change in the Thrifty Food Plan from 103 percent of the change in the TFP
- freezing the standard deduction, the vehicle limit, and the minimum benefit
- setting the shelter cap at graduated specified levels up to $300 by fiscal year 2001, and allowing states to mandate the use of the standard utility allowance
- revising provisions for disqualification, including comparable disqualification with other means-tested programs and
- requiring states to implement EBT before October 1, 2002.
Temporary Benefits Increase From April 2009 To November 2013
SNAP benefits temporarily increased with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 , a federal stimulus package to help Americans affected by the Great Recession of 2007. Beginning in April 2009 and continuing through the expansion’s expiration on November 1, 2013, the ARRA appropriated $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit levels to an average of $133. This amounted to a 13.6 percent funding increase for SNAP recipients.
This temporary expansion expired on November 1, 2013, resulting in a relative benefit decrease for SNAP households on average, benefits decreased by 5 percent. According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the maximum monthly benefit for a family of four dropped from $668 to $632, while the maximum monthly benefit for an individual dropped from $200 to $189.
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Corporate Influence And Support
In June 2014, Mother Jones reported that “Overall, 18 percent of all food benefits money is spent at Walmart,” and that Walmart had submitted a statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stating,
Our business operations are subject to numerous risks, factors, and uncertainties, domestically and internationally, which are outside our control. These factors include… changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan and other public assistance plans, changes in the eligibility requirements of public assistance plans.
Companies that have lobbied on behalf of SNAP include PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and the grocery chain Kroger. Kraft Foods, which receives “One-sixth revenues … from food stamp purchases” also opposes food stamp cuts.
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.
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Employment And Training Services For Snap Recipients
If you are approved for SNAP, you can receive employment, training, and education assistance at no cost through the:
- SNAP Employment & Training Program If you receive SNAP benefits and do not receive TANF benefits, the SNAP E& T program can help you achieve your career goals through a broad range of services focused on your interests and needs. The program is completely voluntary and participants receive reimbursements for eligible transportation, childcare, and other expenses related to participation. Loaner laptops are also available to eligible participants.
- TANF Employment Program : If you receive TANF in addition to SNAP benefits, the TEP program provides coaching towards education and employment goals, coaching for parents on goals they have for their child and families, and connections to service providers that can help you achieve those goals. Participant supports and incentives are also provided, including for the purchase of technology needed for remote participation.
Program Expansion: Participation Milestones In The 1960s And Early 1970s
In April 1965, participation topped half a million. Participation topped 1 million in March 1966, 2 million in October 1967, 3 million in February 1969, 4 million in February 1970, 5 million one month later in March 1970, 6 million two months later in May 1970, 10 million in February 1971, and 15 million in October 1974. Rapid increases in participation during this period were primarily due to geographic expansion.
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