Iowa SNAP food benefits provide food assistance to low income residents. The state food stamps benefits program is a part of the federal program, known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is funded by the federal government but is managed on a state-level. SNAP benefits are overseen by the Iowa Department of Human Services in the state. The mission of the SNAP program is to keep people in need well-fed. As such, benefits for food stamps program cannot be used to purchase non-food and other ineligible items.
Benefits from food stamps can be used to buy appropriate food items via the EBT card. If an applicant is successfully enrolled in the SNAP benefits program, he or she will get an EBT benefits card. Once the beneficiary has access to his or her benefits card food stamps can be used to buy food at participating retail establishments. To discover more about IA SNAP benefits and how to get a benefits card, continue reading the sections below:
Learn About Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in Iowa
Iowa SNAP food benefits cover a variety of food items. The food stamps program deems most food items that provide nourishment and are considered fit for human consumption to be eligible. The main categories of approved items include:
- Breads and cereal
- Vegetables and fruits
- Meats and fish
- Dairy products
- Seeds and plants
Seeds and plants can only be purchased with SNAP benefits if the recipient will grow these items for food. Candy, crackers, ice cream, soda pop and other ‘junk’ food items can also be purchased with food assistance. Luxury items like steak may also be purchased with these benefits.
Items You Cannot Buy With Iowa SNAP Benefits
Benefits from SNAP will not cover all items found at a grocery store. Food stamps enrollees generally cannot use their benefits to buy items that are not considered a source of nourishment. The following list details what items are ineligible:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Cigarettes and other tobacco products
- Household items
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper products
- Pet food
Those enrolled in the Iowa food stamps program cannot use their benefits to purchase livestock even if the animal will be used to provide food for the beneficiary. However, living seafood such as lobster can be purchased with food assistance.
How long does it take to receive Iowa SNAP benefits after enrollment?
SNAP food benefits applicants must submit a form and be interviewed by a Department of Human Services representative before being enrolled in the program. All food stamps applicants must be prepared to provide personal information such as their Social Security Number and income levels during the application process. Once this is complete, most people will be notified of their enrollment within a month’s time. Those who are in extreme need may be enrolled sooner.
To make sure a food stamps assistance applicant qualifies for the program, he or she can take a screening online before starting the application process. If an Iowa food stamps seeker is denied entry into the program, he or she can appeal. If IA SNAP benefits applicant is enrolled in the program, he or she will receive an EBT card.
Iowa EBT Card Overview
Benefits from the food stamps program are accessed through an Electronic Benefits transfer (EBT) card. This card can be used by Iowa food stamps beneficiaries at approved grocery stores and farmer’s markets to buy the food they need. The food stamps benefits card can also be used to withdraw cash from an ATM. However, ATMs located inside gambling facilities, adult entertainment venues and liquor stores or alcohol retailers cannot be used to withdraw cash from the EBT card.
All Iowa food assistance beneficiaries should keep their EBT card in a safe place. Food stamps benefits spent by someone who stole the card will not be replaced by the federal or state government. Lost or stolen cards need to be reported immediately.
Please note, any food stamps recipient caught selling an EBT card will face criminal charges and possible time in prison.
Learn About Iowa SNAP Benefit Amounts
SNAP benefits amounts are usually decided by the income and household size of the recipients. Those enrolled in the food stamps program who have a higher income will receive less Iowa SNAP assistance than those who have lower levels of income. Also, larger families will be able to collect more benefits than smaller families or single individuals. The amount of food stamps benefits can change if the recipient experiences a major life change such as losing a job or adding new members to the household. Enrollment in food stamps does not last a lifetime so applicants may have to be re-evaluated on a periodic basis.
SNAP food benefits can still be used by students enrolled in higher education or by able-bodied adults as long as they meet work and other restrictions. The amount of benefits from food stamps an applicant collects will also change if the person is disabled or is a senior citizen. Please be aware, there are federal restrictions that bar those with drug-related felony offenses from being enrolled in the food stamps program.