In Arizona, the term "food stamps" is now referred to as Nutrition Assistance. There's more to the program than just providing vouchers to shop!
Why Is There a Nutrition Assistance Program?
The Nutrition Assistance Program allows low-income families to buy healthy food with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. Recipients spend their benefits to buy eligible food in authorized retail food stores.
Can I Still Get Stamps or Vouchers?
A long time ago that's how it worked. In Arizona, all benefits under this program are issued to an EBT card. The EBT card is a stored value card that works like a prepaid phone card or ATM card. At the store, you use it just like a credit card.
What Can I Buy?
Some of the items you can buy with your EBT card include food products for human consumption; food producing plants, health foods such as wheat germ, brewers yeast, sunflower seeds, and enriched or fortified foods; infant formula; diabetic foods; distilled water; ice labeled for human consumption; items used in the preparation or preservation of food such as spices and herbs, pectin, lard, and shortening; meals prepared for and delivered or served to elderly or handicapped program participants; snack foods such as candy, potato and tortilla chips, chewing gum, and soft drinks.
The following items may not be purchased under the Nutrition Assistance program: alcoholic beverages; tobacco; non-food items such as soap, paper products, cleaning supplies, and cooking utensils; items used for gardening such as fertilizer, peat moss; items not intended for human consumption such as laundry starch, dog and cat food, seeds packaged as bird seed, vitamins and minerals; aspirin, cough drops or syrups, cold remedies, antacids, all prescription medicines.
Only people approved for the Restaurant Meals Program may use EBT to purchase hot foods and prepared meals.
Be aware! It is a federal crime to sell or otherwise abuse Nutrition Assistance benefits.
Am I Eligible to Receive Nutrition Assistance?
In order to qualify, you must be a resident of the State of Arizona.
There are also income eligibility requirements, depending on the number of people in the household, the ages of those people, and the amount of liquid assets, like cash, that are available to the people in your household.
Your immigration and residency status, as well as your ability to work, are other factors that will be considered when your application is reviewed.
Some people think that you are ineligible for Nutrition Assistance is you have a job. That's not true. Many people in the program work.The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers the Nutrition Assistance Program. You can see details about eligibility and benefits here on the SNAP website.
If you are not sure if you are eligible for Nutrition Assistance, try the Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool.
If you have an emergency need for food, contact DES directly. They may be able to expedite your benefits if you qualify.
How Do I Apply for Nutrition Assistance in Arizona?
You can apply online or at an office of the Department of Economic Security. Even if you aren't sure if you are eligible, or you aren't certain how to compute some of the requirements, you are encouraged to contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security and they will help you.