The West Virginia SNAP food benefits program, formerly called the food stamps program, offers financial assistance to households and individuals who need help paying for healthy foods each month. Food stamps benefits can only be spent on food items because the program was designed to promote nutrition and nourishment. This allows beneficiaries to learn the importance of the foods they consume and how they affect their productivity and health. WV SNAP benefits are only awarded to applicants who meet all eligibility requirements of the program, including income guidelines and asset totals. Benefits for the food stamps program are issued to each beneficiary using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, offering a convenient and quick way to access benefits. The benefit card food stamp in WV can only be used at authorized retailers to purchase approved food items. To find out which food items are approved for purchase with food stamp benefits, how to use the EBT card and how benefit amounts are determined, review the sections below.
Learn About Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in West Virginia
The types of food items beneficiaries can purchase with SNAP food benefits are broad and include items that are considered unhealthy or luxury foods. The West Virginia food stamp program offers education to beneficiaries so they can learn about making smart food choices to upgrade their health and make their monthly grocery budgets last. The categories of wholesome and substantial food items and ingredients that SNAP benefit recipients are encouraged to purchase from include the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meats, poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Grains, breads and cereals
- Seeds and plants that produce food for human consumption
Live animals and birds cannot be purchased with food stamp benefits, while live seafood like shellfish is approved for purchase. The acceptable food items can be purchased using the WV benefit card food stamp at an authorized retailer or participating farmer’s market. In some situations, local restaurants may offer low-cost meals that can be paid for with West Virginia food stamps benefits for elderly, homeless or disabled beneficiaries.
Download our guide to food stamps for tips on how to apply.
Items You Cannot Buy With West Virginia SNAP Benefits
WV SNAP food stamp benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items, such as cleaning products, toiletries, cosmetic products or pet supplies. The food stamps benefits program is focused on the health and nourishment of beneficiaries through food and nutrition, so items that do not contribute to this goal cannot be purchased with program benefits. While authorized retailers that accept EBT food stamp benefit payment may have non-food items for sale on their shelves, these items cannot be bought using a benefits card. The items that are not approved for purchase with SNAP benefits in West Virginia are included in the following categories:
- Medications or medicines
- Vitamins and supplements
- Kitchenware or tools used to prepare food
- Alcohol and tobacco products
- Hot foods or foods meant to be eaten in the store
Before visiting a local grocery store or farmer’s market, it is important for SNAP food benefits recipients to ensure the retailer accepts EBT benefit cards as payment. Authorized retail locations and farmer’s markets can usually be identified with a sign or sticker of the EBT card or SNAP program logo. A list of stores that accept food stamp program benefits in West Virginia can also be found by contacting a local Health and Human Resources office.
How Long Does It Take to Receive West Virginia SNAP Benefits After Enrollment?
Once a WV SNAP benefit program application has been received, a denial or acceptance notification is mailed to the applicant within 30 days. If the applicant is approved for SNAP benefits in West Virginia, the notification will include the benefit calculation and the food stamps EBT card along with instructions for activating the card. A SNAP food benefit application only needs to include the applicant’s name, address and signature to start the application process, but applicants are encouraged to provide as much household information as possible since it will need to be collected later for eligibility review.
In addition to turning in a WV SNAP benefit application, an applicant must also complete an interview with a Health and Human Resources representative, in person or by phone, to verify statements made in the application. Documentation and identification may be requested before eligibility for the food stamp benefit program can be determined. Some applicants may qualify for emergency SNAP benefits in West Virginia if they show an extremely low income, little or no assets and an urgent need for financial assistance for food. Qualifying emergency food stamp benefit card applicants will receive their first payments within seven days of applying.
West Virginia EBT Card Overview
Upon approval of food stamp benefits or emergency WV SNAP benefits, a beneficiary will be issued an EBT card. The benefit card food stamp works like a debit card and can be used at the credit card machine at an authorized retailer. SNAP food stamp benefits are deducted from the beneficiary’s account upon transaction completion. Benefits for food stamps program are deposited into a beneficiary’s account, if he or she remains eligible for benefits, on the same day each month and are available immediately after deposit. At the end of the month, remaining food stamp benefits are rolled over to be used the next month. After one year, the West Virginia food stamp SNAP benefits remaining on the EBT card expire and can no longer be used by the beneficiary.
Learn About West Virginia SNAP Benefit Amounts
The amount of West Virginia SNAP food benefits awarded to each beneficiary will vary based on his or her family and household members, earned income, assets and monthly expenses. Taking these factors into account, a formula is used to calculate how much SNAP food stamps should be issued to the beneficiary each month. A household with a higher monthly income and fewer family members will be issued less food stamps benefits in WV than a beneficiary with low earned income and more dependent family members. Changes to the household should be reported promptly by beneficiaries so they can ensure the monthly food stamps program benefits are being calculated correctly each month.