Food stamps help low-income families and individuals purchase nutritious foods and groceries. If you live in Washington state and need help paying for groceries, you may apply for food stamps through a program called Basic Food. If you qualify, Basic Food will allot a certain amount of money to you each month to help pay for the cost of food. As with all programs funded by the government, you must satisfy certain rules in order to receive food benefits; once you are approved, you must abide by additional rules in order to maintain your eligibility status.
You must satisfy citizenship or alien status requirements in order to qualify for food stamps. The Food Stamp Program in Washington offers food assistance to U.S. citizens as well as immigrants who are in the United States legally. If you are an immigrant without legal documentation or you are in the United States as a tourist, you are not eligible for food stamps in Washington.
Since Basic Food provides assistance to low-income families, you must satisfy financial rules in order to get benefits. Your income eligibility is determined by how many people live in the same house as you and your combined gross monthly income. For example, if your household has four people, your total household income before taxes and deductions cannot exceed $2,270 a month, as of 2018.
Programs and Reviews
After you get accepted to the Basic Food program, you'll be required to abide by certain rules in order to continue receiving benefits. According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), you may be required to partake in the Food Stamp Employment and Training (E&T) Program. The E&T program is designed to help you achieve financial independence by providing various job and training services, as stated on the official website of the state of Washington.
You'll also need to fill out an eligibility review. Right before your benefits end, DSHS will send you an eligibility review notice – the purpose of the review is to see if you are still eligible for food stamps. In addition, you must cooperate with Quality Assurance if they contact you, according to DSHS.
EBT Card Use
When you get approved for food stamps, your benefits come in the form of an electronic benefits (EBT) card, which you may use to buy food at any grocery store, supermarket or farmer's market that accepts it. You can only use the EBT card to buy specific food items; for example, 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. You are not allowed to use food stamps to buy prepared hot foods, household supplies, vitamins, medicines, alcohol or cigarettes.
You can use your EBT card anywhere in the United States, even if you applied for benefits in Washington. Keep in mind that you must tell DSHS if you move out of Washington to another state.
- Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: Basic Food
- United States Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- United States Department of Agriculture: What Can SNAP Buy?
- Washington Connection: Homepage
- Social Security Administration: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Facts
- Food and Nutrition Service. "SNAP Data Tables, Latest Available Month July 2019 State Level Participation & Benefits," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, August 2019," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- USDA." What Can SNAP Buy?" Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
Nancy Chen is a professional writer and owner of a pet care business. She is also certified to teach English to middle and secondary school students. Chen holds a bachelor's degree in English and comparative religions from Tufts University, as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University.