How To Apply For Food Stamps In Florida

June 20, 2012

Step 1 (optional): Take the prescreening test to see if you are qualified to apply for food stamps here.

Step 2: Apply in the way best suited for you:

  • Apply online here.
  • Visit your local ACCESS location to pick up an application or apply on a public computer.

If you elected to pick up an application you can find your local ACCESS office here. You may also find contact information here.

Step 3 (optional):  Check to see what stage your application is at by clicking here and creating an account with the Florida SNAP website.

For assistance please contact your local ACCESS office at: 1-866-76ACCES or 1-866-762-2237

Learn More About Florida Food Stamps
By 2011, 1-in-6 people living in the state of Florida were enrolled in the food stamps program. Check out this video for more information on how getting SNAP benefits can help you.

The Florida Food Assistance Program

The Food Assistance Program in Florida was designed to bring healthy and nutritious food to those in need. For some living in Florida, this means that they have extra spending money when they grocery shop to buy healthier, more wholesome foods that will supplement what they are already buying for themselves. For others, the Food Assistance Program is their main source of food income and they depend on it to feed themselves and their families. In 2010, government food assistance programs helped more than 40 million men, women and children obtain enough food to eat.

Anyone within the United States can apply for food stamps, regardless of their particular background, race, gender, or religious beliefs. How much a person receives in assistance from the Food Assistance Program depends on a few factors, but in the year 2008, the average person received $101 a month in food assistance.

What You Need To Know When Applying

To be accepted into the Food Assistance Program, you have to meet particular monetary and situational requirements. During the application process, and interview, you will need to have particular documents on hand.

In most instances, if you are under 60 years old, it is a requirement for you to not have any greater than $2,000 in assets. However, if you or another person in your home is 60 or higher, that limit raises to $3,000. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income), are not considered assets when you are applying for food stamps. However, cash, what is in a bank account, and perhaps your current vehicle, are counted as assets.

Another requirement is an income limit, which is affected by the amount of people you have dwelling in your house when you are applying for food stamps.

How much your expenses are is also taken into account while making a request for Food Assistance benefits. If you are paying for child or elderly care, rent, mortgage, or utilities; all of those costs will be taken into account. On top of that, there are also particular medical expenditures which could add up towards your total expenses when you are applying for food stamps.

Key Elements To Remember Before You Submit Your Application 

  • Always tell the truth to the best of your knowledge
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Make sure the form is completely filled out
  • It may take up to 1 month to start receiving benefits

What Is An EBT ACCESS Card?

An EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card is given to those who are found eligible and pass the application and interview process.
In Florida, the EBT card is called an ACCESS card. Your ACCESS card is very similar to a debit card and can be used at most food stores, and even some qualifying convenience stores or farmers markets. Because the ACCESS card is like a debit card, it does need a pin number to make purchases.

How To Check Your EBT Account Balance 

It is important for each ACCESS Florida user to know how many benefits are remaining on their card. This enables them to budget their food stamps to ensure that they can keep their cupboards stocked through the end of the month instead of running out halfway through. Once your benefits have been used for the month, you cannot get additional benefits until your next benefit day.

To check your balance click here.

What If You Qualify For Supplemental Security Income?

You may not qualify for the Food Assistance Program if you get a Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But fear not, there is a program designed just for you. It is called the SUNCAP Program and it may or may not be a better option for you than the Food Assistance Program. Some people who are using the Food Assistance Program will be switched to the SUNCAP program once they begin receiving SSI. If however, you receive less assistance on the SUNCAP program, you have the right to switch back to the Food Assistance Program.

Can You Buy Any Food With SNAP Benefits In Florida?

Currently, you can buy any food with food stamps that is not hot and ready to eat. That means anything but those delicious smelling hot foods in the deli case are off limits. Not many food stamp users have a problem with this, because they can always just go home and heat up some corn dogs on their own. But what if you couldn’t buy corn dogs at all?

Recently, Florida House subcommittee members voted on whether or not to allow sweet or salty snacks to be bought with EBT cards. This would have meant that no candy, chips, nuts mixes, popsicles, etc. could be bought with food stamps. While some thought that this was a fair idea and that SNAP benefits should only be used for highly nutritious food purchases. This provision was removed from the HB 1401 bill because it was agreed that it took away the rights of the people.  You can take a look at the bill and see what restrictions were passed here. (There were no restrictions for the SNAP program passed.)

For more information, check out this article by Bill Kaczor of the Associated Press.


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