Written by Jenn Cosgrove
Washington residents needing aid with buying groceries are able to participate in The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), called "Basic Food".
If you qualify for receiving food assistance, an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card called the "Quest Card" will be issued to you.
The "Quest Card" works like a debit card with your benefits added on to your account each month. You will receive a booklet in the mail along with your card that outlines how to use it.
Pro Tip: You can use your card along with coupons so you can get the most out of your food stamp money.
You could be eligible to receive assistance with food even if you are working, have dependants or not, own a home or vehicle, have money in your savings account, are homeless, have no physical mailing address, or are taking college courses.
In order to qualify, you do have to prove citizenship or alien status.
Washington's Food Stamp Program provides assistance to citizens of the U.S. as well as immigrants who are in the U.S. legally. If you cannot provide documentation that proves you are an immigrant in the U.S. legally, or you are a tourist in the U.S., you are not eligible to receive food stamps in the state of Washington.
The Basic Food Program provides assistance for those with low-incomes. In order to qualify, certain rules must be met. Your combined monthly income and the number of people in your household determine your eligibility.
As per the Federal Poverty Guidelines, your gross income must be no more than 200 percent.
The latest requirements means a monthly gross income of $1,805 for a single person, $2,429 for a family of two, and $3,675 for a family of four. (Check to make sure these numbers haven't been updated since our last update). The state plan allows more applicants to be eligible for assistance than the federal program.
Whether you're from Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Kent; all cities in the state are covered under the Access EBT card.
Also, be sure to check out our facts about food stamps to see that you're not alone - learn how many Americans rely on food stamps.
Before you begin your application, see pages 4 to 6 to find out what papers you need to get together such as how many people live in your household, your household's income information, cost of the home, utilities costs, and other bills such as medical expenses and child care costs.
Once you've submitted your online application or submit your form to your local food stamp office, you'll need to keep all that information together when you meet with an appointed caseworker.
If you have less than $150 in gross monthly income and less than $100 in resources, or if your shelter costs are higher than your gross monthly income, you could be eligible to receive expedited food stamps - which you can receive in less than a week.
If you think you are eligible for expedited food stamps, visit your nearest office as soon as possible.
Once you're accepted into the Basic Food Program, there will be certain rules you need to follow in order to continue receiving your benefits on a monthly basis..
You may be required to participate in the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program (E&T). This is in accordance with the Washington State Department of Social and Health services (DSHS) rules and regulations.
The E&T program, which provides various job and training services in the state of Washington, was put in place to help those with low incomes on assistance to establish financial independence.
Before your benefits end, DSHS will send you a notice in the mail to review your eligibility in case there has been any changes in your household since the last time you registered for benefits. This review also requires you to cooperate with Quality Assurance if you're contacted by phone.
Upon approval for food stamps, you will receive your benefits on an electronic benefits (EBT) card which looks like a credit card and can be used at any grocery or farmer's market store that accepts it.
Your EBT card may be used to buy specific grocery items such as; breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; dairy products; meat, fish, poultry and eggs; and seeds and plants to grow your own food at home, according to DSHS.
Your EBT card does not cover prepared hot foods, household supplies, vitamins, medicines, pet food, alcohol or cigarettes.
Even though you applied in the state of Washington, your EBT card can be used anywhere in the United States. If you do plan on moving out of state, you'll need to inform DSHS.
Participating in Basic Food also includes other benefits:
Mail: DSHS Customer Service Center
P.O. Box 11699
Tacoma, WA 98411-9905
Mail: DSHS Constituent Services*
PO Box 45130
Olympia, WA 98504-5130
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