Find out 5 things you must know before applying for SNAP

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP, is an updated version of what used to be known as Food Stamps. As the biggest program against hunger in the U.S., SNAP is intended to help eligible people and families with low to no income that suffer from inadequate nutrition. Even though it is a federal program, each state has its own local agencies to put it to practice.

In the past, the program allowed you to apply for food stamps or coupons of different values ($1, $5 and $10). In 1990, with the help of private companies, SNAP switched methodologies and began to provide aid through an Electronic Benefit Transference, also known as EBT cards.

Consider the following 5 things you need to know before applying for SNAP:

#1 Find out about requirements

SNAP is available to all kinds of people and families that meet the requirements, regardless of how many members the family has or their ages.

Documentation needed

  • ID and residence in one of the states
  • Household income
  • Expenses
  • Immigration status, if you are applying as a non-US citizen

Additional documentation

  • If you legally support a child, you may add the expense
  • Child care expenses, such as transportation and school costs
  • Medical expenses that exceed 35 dollars per month (only for elderly or disabled people)
  • House rent, mortgage, taxes or insurance
  • Light and gas expenses

We recommend you visit your local library and access the pre-screening tool with one of their computers. Or, if you rather do it by phone, you can call Food Source and ask to talk to an adviser about the SNAP benefits.

#2 Learn about Emergency SNAP

Keep in mind that you may also check eligibility and apply for the emergency SNAP benefits, which will be given to you within 7 days of requested. In this case, the best option is to go directly to your local SNAP office.

To qualify, your situation must be compatible with at least one of the following 3 scenarios:

  1. Your monthly income is lower than 150 dollars and you have less than 100 dollars in your savings account.
  2. Your income and savings at the bank are less than your monthly housing expenses.
  3. You or the member applying is a migrant worker with less than 100 dollars in the bank.

#3 How to Apply for the household

If you are not only applying for food stamps for yourself but also for your entire household, you should add their names in the form. This is because you buy and prepare the meals for all of you, so they also need to be covered in the benefits given to you.

Spouses and kids under 22 years old must submit only one application as a household.

#4 Find out the different ways to apply

If you want to ask for information or apply to the SNAP program, select one of the following methods:

  • County and state offices. Visit your local SNAP office (if you don’t know where it is, you’ll find it listed under the Food Stamps section of the phone book).
  • Call Center. You can call Project Bread’s Food Source line, which is free, at 1-800-645-8333.
  • Via email or fax.
  • Online form. Not all states have this option available, but you can verify if your state applies in the Department of Agriculture’s website. Plus, one of them has its own form, so be sure to select the correct state.

#4 Read about EBT cards

As soon as you apply, you will get an EBT card on the mail. However, don’t freak out if its balance is worth $0 — this is normal. Only when your request is approved will you start seeing the SNAP benefits accredited.

#5 Understand that it takes time

Applying to get SNAP benefits takes time and you should be patient. After you apply, the agency will call you to verify your documentation. If you are eligible for emergency SNAP, you the process may be faster. If not, your local SNAP office will contact you after 30 days to notify the approval or denial of your application.

10 free food coupon sites

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Going grocery shopping is getting more and more expensive every year, and it is easy to wonder, for example, why you’ve spent 150 dollars if you only went there for 5 items. Nowadays everyone is looking for food coupons, that provide discounts or even free items at the store.

Granted, not everybody has the time to go through paper magazines to cut and clip useful coupon deals. For that reason, check out the following 10 best free food coupon sites, where you can find food coupon deals, easy to print from the comfort of your home.

Some of them offer health, beauty and clothing coupons, as well as food, so you can search the website for specific categories, brands or products.

1. SmartSource

The best food coupon site is called SmartSource. It is constantly refreshing and updating coupon deals every day, which means that every time you enter you’ll find new offers. The cool part is that you can download the app and easily access your coupons while grocery shopping.

2. Coupons

The second most popular place is Coupons, which offers free food coupons with amazing discounts and freebies. Here you’ll notice that coupons are constantly being updated, and you can choose to download them in digital, printable or mobile app format.

3. Grocery Smarts

If you want to get some of the best food coupons, then Grocery Smarts is the go-to place. Besides offering you the best coupon deals, the website has a smart engine that cross-checks them with current in-store offers, so as to get you the absolute best money-saving deals available.

4. Mambo Sprouts

Ideal for organic food lovers. Mambo Sprouts will provide the best printable coupons for almost every organic item possible, as well as some digital deals for online purchases. On the website you will also find recipes, information on their groceries and cooking tips.

5. RedPlum

Remember the RedPlum Coupon Book that came in the mail? Well, is the exact same book, but in a digital format. It offers the same coupon deals but in an easier way to go through; you can print them and add them to your grocery shopping list.

Most often than not, it gathers the coupons offered in the first two websites on this list.

6. PPGazette

Is there anything better than a place that allows you to use as many coupons as you want at the same time? We don’t think so. PPGazette is one of the few sites that allows you to stack coupon deals in order to save even more.

If you have time, we recommend going through all their food coupons; if not, you can use their search bar for specific items.

7. CouponMom

To all the moms out there, CouponMom is the go-to website if you want to access the most popular offers. It’s not just free food coupons, but also cleaning products, cooking utensils and drugstore items.

Filter the results by state and you’ll save time while finding the best local coupon deals at the same time.

8. Grocery Coupon Network

This website will provide you with unlimited access to food coupon codes and printables, which are updated on an hourly basis. The good thing about it is that it also finds the best coupon deals in your specific area, so that you don’t have to go across the country for the perfect deal.

9. Lozo

This website is loved by many as it makes the task of finding coupon deals even easier! All you have to do is upload your grocery list of the day and the Lozo engine will show you all the coupons available for those particular items. Plus, you will find free food coupons, codes, offers and bundle deals.

10. Free Coupons

This website,, offers one of the best coupon deals available on the Internet. It offers free food coupons, as well as cleaning or health items, in the form of printable coupons or online codes. Whichever you choose, we recommend subscribing to their newsletter in order to access the VIP coupon tab.

These websites will save you money the next time you go grocery shopping. Happy couponing!

How Our Family Survived Living on Food Stamps


I never thought I would be using food stamps but, then again, I never thought I was going to be earning such a low income. The worst thing was that both me and my husband were in the same situation. The company he worked for closed down and he accepted a poorly paid job just to get an income. Thankfully, we learned how to use EBT cards for food stamps and coupon deals to cut back on our spending. And I’ll tell you how.

Planning our budget

When your income isn’t enough to make ends meet, every penny counts. After thinking it through, my husband and I decided to look for different ways to reduce our weekly expenses while we waited for better job opportunities.

We started by calculating how much we spent on the grocery store per week and we came to an average of $130, though some weeks were more frugal than others (we had our youngest son’s birthday the month we decided to plan our budget).

Choosing our strategy

We knew our credit card offered discounts on certain products on specific days of the week in our local grocery store but they didn’t make the cut to reduce our expenses. Thankfully, we talked with some friends who had recently been under a financial strain and they recommended us to check out the SNAP program and apply for food stamps.

And we did. Here’s our story.

Learning how to sign up for the SNAP program

On the very next day, we googled the closest SNAP office and checked if we were eligible for the food stamps program. A clerk explained to us that we had to provide certain information about our income and that we would be contacted for a yes or a no. So we had to apply for food stamps and wait. Fortunately, a week later we received our EBT card. EBT cards are electronic benefit transfer cards that work just like a debit card, so we started using ours.

At the grocery store

Firstly, I should clarify that we had to change grocery stores because ours didn’t have the food stamps program available. However, there was one that did just two blocks from our house, with a sign that read “Welcome SNAP program beneficiaries”. They had told us that there were some things we could buy with the food stamps program:

  • vegetables
  • bread
  • fruits
  • dairy products
  • meat

So we organized our weekly meals, bought only what was necessary and got a fair discount, yet our $642 monthly allotment of SNAP benefits wasn’t enough to help us get to the next paycheck, so we started looking for ways to get more discounts.

Quick step-by-step at the cashier

It’s pretty straightforward: you just swipe your EBT card on the card reader, digit your PIN and that’s it! The screen will show how much money you have left for on your SNAP account.

Going for the coupon deals

Grocery store coupons are quite popular and laziness had prevented us from checking them out. So we browsed different coupon sites, like Smart Source or Red Plum, and printed out coupons for many things, especially those that the food stamps card didn’t cover, like shampoo and toothpaste. Most coupon deals offered a $1 discount and though that doesn’t seem like quite a lot, when we started calculating, we realized we had just saved $10 with coupons. With this and the food stamps card, our finances seemed to be less constrained.

Other useful strategies

To get the most out of our food stamps card with the SNAP benefits, we also took whatever discount opportunity came our way. Some of the strategies we used were:

  • Getting a grocery store card: These usually rack up points for appliances or provide discounts on certain days of the week. Ours had a 10% discount for any product on Thursdays.
  • Buying food close to the expiration date: Most people shy away from foods close to the end of their shelf life. A nutritionist friend of mine told me that shelf life is quite flexible, companies generally put an average date in which the product “doesn’t taste as good” but is still good to eat. Plus, if you’re cooking with those ingredients that day, it’s no big deal!

Even though the food stamps program includes seeds for creating your own vegetable garden, we didn’t take advantage of this discount. We just bought some basil seeds because my husband loves it with pasta, but we don’t have the time or energy to take care of crops. However, if you have the time, that would definitely save you quite a lot of money on fruits and vegetables and it will be cheaper thanks to the magic of the SNAP benefits. Plus, it’s organic.

So, if you’re going through a rough financial patch, food stamps could help you overcome it, but generally you need to pair it up with other measures, like using coupons or grocery store cards. Of course, if you have another strategy, by all means, use it! Just don’t forget to apply for food stamps with SNAP because they may save you quite a lot of money.

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