Our focus for much of 2018 has been the Farm Bill, and the programs within it that help the low-income population. One major program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Formerly called “food stamps”, this program helps support the nutritional needs of low-income individuals and families who qualify.
SNAP is a federal program within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Michigan, it is administered through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The program is commonly referred to as “food assistance” or the “food assistance program” (FAP) in Michigan. Benefits are loaded onto EBT cards like this one.
In our state, SNAP supports over 1.4 million low-income people to help them meet their nutritional needs each month, including children, seniors, and veterans. It is the nation’s largest safety net nutrition program. It supports people who are between jobs, or have fallen on tough times; 75% of families on SNAP had at least one working member in the household in the past 12 months.
How do I apply?
If you think you are eligible for SNAP, you can apply for benefits on the MiBridges system– Michigan’s benefit application and access system. Staff at the Food Bank Council of Michigan are available to assist with completing applications for the SNAP program. Our dedicated staff are trained navigators who will help you complete an application over the phone, and help you locate other resources if you are in need. Call 1-888-544-8773 for assistance in applying for SNAP or finding a food pantry.
How do I redeem my benefits?
If you are eligible and start receiving SNAP benefits, you can redeem them at participating grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers markets. Look for signs like the one above, or ask a store manager if you aren’t sure if benefits are accepted. SNAP can be used to purchase food for the household to eat like fresh fruits and vegetables, shelf-stable pantry items, meats or dairy products. You can also use your benefits to purchase seeds and plants that produce foods for the household to eat, like tomato or pepper plants. Your benefits will be loaded each month with the amount determined by your MDHHS caseworker.
For more information about MiBridges, SNAP, and the benefit application process, watch this short video from MDHHS.
SNAP is an excellent tool to help people meet their nutritional needs. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the 2018 Farm Bill, and work to protect programs like SNAP, that provide support to those in need.