What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Did you know that many Summit County seniors are eligible for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)? If you are 60 or older, here is what you need to know about benefits you could be missing out on.

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program. SNAP benefits help low-income individuals and families. SNAP aims to improve food security and nutrition among low-income households.

Because hunger is a quickly growing issue among older adults in Ohio, SNAP is especially important to seniors. Nutrition affects the overall wellbeing of seniors in our communities. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides over $200 million annually to help senior households in Ohio buy food.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) provides grants to community-based organizations to enroll eligible low-income seniors in SNAP. In Summit County, seniors can enroll in SNAP through Summit County Department of Job and Family Services.

While many seniors are eligible for SNAP benefits, not everyone is taking advantage of this key resource. Only 2 out of 5 eligible adults over age 60 are enrolled in SNAP. That means that 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify are missing out.

Don’t miss out on benefits that you are entitled to. Apply for SNAP today at benefits.ohio.gov or call 844-640-6446.

Who is eligible for SNAP?

While SNAP is overseen by the federal government, each state determines eligibility and delivers benefits. Generally, states follow federal guidelines.

Low-income households may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits. Many disabled individuals and seniors may also be eligible.

Most households must meet both a gross and a net income limit to be eligible for SNAP. But, people who are 60 years or older or disabled only need to meet the net income limit.

Net income is calculated by adding your household’s total income together. You then take away a number of approved deductions. To be eligible for SNAP, your household’s net income must be at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.

To find out more about your specific eligibility, call the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services at 844-640-6446. You can also apply online at benefits.ohio.gov.

How does SNAP work?

You receive SNAP benefits on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. Each month, your SNAP benefits will automatically load onto an EBT card.

The card is called the Ohio Direction Card. The Ohio Direction Card has replaced food-stamp coupons. The card is safe and can only be used with your four-digit PIN. You can use the card like a debit card to buy food at participating stores.

Your benefits can accrue up to 12 months. If you do not spend your entire SNAP allotment in one month, unused funds roll over into the next month.

What can you get on SNAP?

The amount of benefits your household receives depends on the size of your household, the combined monthly income, shelter expenses, child care, and some medical expenses for those 60 and older or disabled. Note that a household could include one person, a family, or a group of unrelated people.

If you live in Summit County, someone from the Department of Job and Family Services can help you determine the amount of SNAP benefits you receive at 844-640-6446.

To find your household’s benefit, multiply the net monthly income of the household by 0.30. Then subtract that number from the maximum benefit for the household size.

By law, people over 60 years old and those with disabilities can never receive less than the minimum benefit.

What you can buy with SNAP

You can buy groceries with your SNAP benefits at participating food stores. This can include fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, and meats and poultry. You can also use your SNAP card at participating farmers’ markets.

You can NOT use SNAP benefits for the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Prepared hot foods or “to-go” that will be eaten immediately
  • Non-food items
  • Pet food
  • Vitamins

Breaking the stigma of SNAP

You might think there are stigmas about receiving SNAP benefits. But the truth is, shopping with SNAP is easy, convenient, and beneficial. If you are eligible to receive SNAP, take advantage of the resource – that’s what it’s there for!

Here are some points that can help break the stigma of SNAP from NCOA:

It’s not a charity

Like Social Security and Medicare, you pay into it, so it’s there when you need it.

It’s not embarrassing

The old “food stamps” no longer exist. Each month, SNAP dollars load automatically onto a debit card that you can use at most grocery stores

SNAP helps the economy

SNAP benefits are spent in local grocery stores, supporting local retailers and creating jobs.

There’s more than enough

Enrolling in SNAP never means taking SNAP benefits away from someone else

It’s okay to have resources

Most resources, including your home, car, bank accounts, and life insurance policies don’t make you ineligible for SNAP.

Expenses count

Your monthly benefit is calculated based on shelter, utilities, medical, and other expenses.

How do I get SNAP?

There are several ways to apply for SNAP. The through Summit County Department of Job and Family Services provides easy methods for applying for benefits and provides experts to answer all of your questions.  

SNAP events

Summit County Department of Job and Family Services has joined forces with VANTAGE Aging to help more seniors understand and participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The agencies are taking a collaborative approach to increasing SNAP enrollments and providing seniors with information on using SNAP benefits to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

From now through July 2020, Summit County DJFS will host outreach events for seniors across Summit County. The events, called Seniors, Sandwiches & SNAP, are free and include a nutritious meal provided by VANTAGE Meals on Wheels.

Registration is required. Check the VANTAGE Aging event page at vantageaging.org/events and join our social networks for updates on upcoming SNAP events.

  • Facebook: @VANTAGEAging
  • Twitter: @vantageaging
  • LinkedIn: @VantageAging

 Are you ready to claim your SNAP benefits? Call the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services at 844-640-6446 to get started today!

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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