The New York SNAP food benefits program, also referred to as the Food Stamps program, assists low-income working families, disabled residents and senior citizens who are struggling to pay their monthly food expenses. Applicants who qualify to receive food stamps benefits in NY can use this monthly allotment to purchase approved food items and provide themselves and their family members with nutritious, healthy and affordable meals at home. SNAP benefits are issued to program applicants who have completed the application process and meet all program guidelines. The amount of benefits for food stamps program awarded to each eligible recipient will vary based on certain household characteristics. An Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card is sent to eligible applicants for easy access to benefits through a card, much like a bank card. To learn more about the benefit card food stamp program, items approved for purchase with benefits and how benefit amounts are determined, review the sections below.
Learn About Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in New York
It is important for SNAP food stamp benefits to be used in the purchase of food items that are useful and nutritious. The New York food stamp program wants to ensure all beneficiaries are using their benefits wisely and purchasing items that will stretch their grocery budgets and provide plenty of healthy meals for families. NY SNAP program benefits can only be used to purchase approved food items, including meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, breads, cereal, grains, breads and dairy products. SNAP food benefits can also be used to purchase seeds or plants that will produce food for household consumption. Herbs, fruit and vegetable plants or seeds can be purchased with SNAP food stamps because they offer nourishing ingredients to assist families in creating healthy and nutritious foods meals. Food stamp program benefits may be used at qualifying farmer’s markets and restaurants that allow for EBT payment. While SNAP food stamps can be used to purchase ‘junk food’ items such as cakes, candies, potato chips and soft drinks, the program encourages its recipients to stay away from these types of foods and focus on more nutrient-dense items.
Note: Download our guide for tips on how to apply for food stamp benefits.
Items You Cannot Buy With New York SNAP Benefits
Since food stamps benefits are issued to qualifying applicants so they have access to nutritious food on low incomes, there are guidelines on the types of items that can be purchased with benefits. SNAP food stamps benefit cards can only be used to purchase food items. Therefore, household items, toiletries and pet supplies are unapproved items. The items that may be available in authorized retail stores but are not acceptable for purchase with SNAP benefits in NY include the following:
- Alcohol, including wine and beer
- Tobacco products, such as cigarettes or cigars
- Vitamins, medicines and supplements
- Hot foods or foods meant to be eaten in the store
Live animals and birds also cannot be purchased with a food stamp benefit card, but live seafood meant for consumption, such as shrimp or lobster, are acceptable. New York SNAP food benefits can be used to buy energy drinks if they are fashioned with a nutrition label and not a supplement label. Program beneficiaries attempting to purchase gift baskets can do so with their SNAP food stamp benefits if at least half the gift basket contains consumable food items. No alcohol or tobacco products can be present in gift baskets purchased with SNAP benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Receive New York SNAP Benefits After Enrollment?
Once a program applicant has applied to receive New York benefits for food stamps program, he or she will receive contact from an Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance representative to set up an interview. The food stamp benefit interview must be completed by the applicant before eligibility can be determined or benefits sent. In some cases, expedited NY SNAP food stamp benefits may be sent to program applicants who meet the eligibility guidelines. Households with extremely low income and an urgent need for food assistance may be eligible to receive their initial SNAP benefit payment within five days after submitting an application to the program. While these applicants will not be required to complete an interview before they receive their first benefit card food stamp payments, they will be required to attend an interview to continue receiving benefits after the first payment.
New York EBT Card Overview
A food stamps benefit card, also referred to as an EBT card or a Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) is issued and mailed to approved program applicants. The EBT card is the only way the program beneficiary can access his or her New York SNAP food benefits. A food stamps program benefit card works just like a debit card. The beneficiary chooses all acceptable food items at a qualifying retailer and upon check out, he or she can use the credit card machine and select the EBT payment option. After entering the Personal Identification Number (PIN) associated with the card, food stamp benefits are used to complete the transaction. These food stamps benefits are automatically deducted from the beneficiary’s account balance. Monthly SNAP benefit balances and a list of transactions that occurred can be found by the program beneficiary through his or her online account. The NY food stamp benefit card is a secure and convenient way for beneficiaries to access their benefits and continually know their account balances.
Learn About New York SNAP Benefit Amounts
An Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance representative reviews the application to determine eligibility and the amount of NY SNAP benefits allotted to each beneficiary. The applicant’s household income, monthly expenses and family member characteristics are analyzed to calculate food stamp SNAP benefit amounts. A program applicant who has a low income and many household members will be awarded more New York SNAP food benefits than a smaller family earning a higher income. The amount of food stamp benefits awarded to an applicant does not depend on the applicant’s household assets or resources. When household changes occur, the beneficiary should report them as soon as possible so accurate SNAP benefit amounts are awarded each month.