When an applicant is approved to receive Tennessee SNAP food benefits, he or she is awarded financial assistance to purchase nutritious food each month. Food stamps benefits are meant to assist low income families and individuals with staying healthy and nourished, so they can focus on maintaining good health and striving for a better financial outlook. The Department of Human Services calculates TN SNAP benefits amounts, which are based on the applicant’s household characteristics and financial information. The benefits for food stamps program attempts to issue benefits quickly to applicants in need once all steps in the application process are completed. The benefit card food stamp is the way all benefits are issued and is also referred to as an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. To learn more about the EBT benefit card, including what items can be bought and how benefit amounts are calculated, review the sections below.
Learn About Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in Tennessee
TN food stamps benefits can be used to purchase food items at participating retailers in the state. Luxury and unhealthy food items such as lobster, candy, steak and soft drinks can be purchased with SNAP benefits, but beneficiaries are encouraged to make their food budget stretch each month and focus on healthier and more satiating items. The healthy and nourishing food items that can be purchased using food stamp benefits in Tennessee include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Grains, including breads and cereals
- Meats, poultry and fish
- Seeds and plants that produce food
- Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese
SNAP food stamp benefits can also be used to purchase energy drinks, if the drinks have nutrition labels instead of a supplement labels. Special occasion items like cakes and gift baskets can be purchased with benefits for food stamps program in TN if they contain less than 50 percent non-food items and no alcohol or tobacco products. Awarded SNAP food benefits can be used at qualifying retailers, including grocery stores and local markets. Local retail stores that accept the food stamps benefit EBT card can be found online or identified with a sticker or sign stating EBT payment is accepted.
Items You Cannot Buy With Tennessee SNAP Benefits
Since the Tennessee food stamps benefits program is focused on assisting low income families in providing nutritional meals to all family members, non-food items cannot be purchased using the EBT card. Beneficiaries cannot use SNAP food stamps to buy the following:
- Vitamins, supplements and medications
- Household items, pet foods and toiletry products
- Alcohol or tobacco products
- Hot foods
- Pre-prepared foods for in-store consumption
Live animals and birds also cannot be bought with SNAP benefits. TN food stamp program benefits cannot be used at local restaurants or markets that do not accept EBT cards.
Note: Get informed about food stamps beneficiary guidelines to avoid having your funds revoked. Download our guide to the SNAP program to learn more.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Tennessee SNAP Benefits After Enrollment?
After an application for Tennessee benefits for food stamps program has been submitted, the Department of Human Services must review the application to determine eligibility. If eligibility for SNAP benefits is confirmed, then the applicant must attend an in-person or phone interview with a representative to verify all statements made on the application. Before receiving a food stamps benefit card, the applicant must also present all documentation requested by the representative including income verification documentation and identification. Once all steps in the application process have been completed, the approved applicant will receive a food stamp benefits approval notification in the mail, along with the EBT card. A determination of approval for the food stamps program is sent to applicants within 30 days of applying. If eligibility for food stamp SNAP benefits is denied, the applicant will also receive a letter in the mail including reasons for denial within 30 days of applying.
Tennessee EBT Card Overview
Tennessee SNAP benefits are issued to all approved applicants on an EBT card, also referred to as a Benefit Security Card. SNAP food stamps can easily be accessed once the benefit card is set up by the beneficiary and used at an authorized retailer. The beneficiary uses the food benefit card just like a debit card by swiping it at the cash register’s point of sale. After choosing EBT as the payment option and entering the personal identification number (PIN) associated with the card, the SNAP benefits account is deducted by the total amount of benefits used in the transaction. Beneficiaries will always know their food stamp benefit balance by keeping track of their receipts or using the online portal to check the current amount of benefits left for the month.
Each month a beneficiary remains eligible for TN SNAP food stamp benefits, he or she will receive an automatic deposit of the benefit amount into the account. The food stamps benefits are automatically accessible after they have been deposited by using the EBT card. The Tennessee benefit card food stamp program has become a popular way of distributing benefits because it offers convenience and security to beneficiaries.
Learn About Tennessee SNAP Benefit Amounts
Once a SNAP food benefits applicant is deemed eligible for the program, his or her benefit amount will be calculated by a Department of Human Services representative. Characteristics of the household like earned income, monthly expenses, assets, resources and family members are used to determine the monthly food stamp benefit amount for the approved applicant. When any of these characteristics change for a beneficiary while still receiving SNAP benefits, he or she should report the changes immediately to a DHS representative to avoid an incorrect Tennessee food stamps benefits payment. If food stamp program benefits are overpaid because a beneficiary did not report household changes, he or she is responsible for paying back the excess benefits to the Department of Human Services.