You’re finding it hard to keep food stocked up for your family, then this is the blog is going to show you how you can get help from the government.
We’re going to deep dive into what food stamps are, how to apply for them, whether or not you’re eligible, the requirements, and where to get them from.
This blog will show you how to keep your family fed so that you have a little less worry and stress in your life.
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- What Are Food Stamps?
- Is Food Stamps SNAP?
- Will Food Stamps Be Affected By The Shutdown?
- How Do Food Stamps Work?
- What Can Food Stamps Buy?
- When Do Food Stamps Come In?
- How Do I Apply for Food Stamps Online?
- What Do I Need to Apply for Food Stamps?
- Food Stamps Offices In Georgia
What Are Food Stamps?
Food stamps are a nutrition program ran by the federal government. They provide credits so that families can stretch their food budgets and buy healthy foods for their families.
Food stamps in Georgia are technically considered a nutrition program and not a welfare cash program. You do not have to be enrolled in any welfare cash program to be eligible for food stamps in Georgia. They are separate programs.
Food stamps can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmer’s markets. Food stamps are credits that are given to you on a debit card called an EBT card. The funds are replenished monthly.
Is Food Stamps SNAP?
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. What is now called SNAP used to be the food stamp system.
There was always a stigma around food stamps. In 2008, the Food Stamp program was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Will Food Stamps Be Affected By The Shutdown?
According to a plan released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP benefits will be available during the start of the shutdown as previously appropriated funding is carried over to meet the needs of the program.
However, as the government shutdown continues for several months, there is no commitment for food stamps in the following months that lie ahead.
In order to ensure that funding is available and not reallocated to other government agencies during a shutdown, the SNAP program will send out food benefits earlier than the 1st of the month to ensure that people get their food stamps.
USDA officials could not commit to providing SNAP benefits in three months in a row and it appears unlikely that the funds will be there if the shutdown were to run that long.
Even if people receive food stamps, they may not be able to use them. Retailers have to renew their licenses to be able to accept food stamps. During a government shutdown, retailers cannot renew their licenses. That means that customers in those stores can’t use their Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards to purchase groceries.
How Do Food Stamps Work?
Food stamps work like a debit card. Once you receive approval for food stamps, you will get a debit card in the mail from SNAP.
This card will carry a balance of credits that you can use to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmer’s markets.
Related: Georgia Foreclosure Timeline
SNAP will refill your food stamps on the debit card on the 1st of each month. How much you receive each month is determined by how much you qualify for (we cover this later).
When you have your food stamp EBT card, you can use it anywhere that accepts EBT. Almost all large box stores accept EBT. Think stores like Walmart, Kroger, Dollar General, Publix, etc.
Smaller convenience stores are the ones that you have to look out for. Look for a sign in the front window like the one above that says, “We accept EBT.”
You grocery shop just like normal. Get all of the foods that you normally would buy.
Note: Food stamps do not work on alcohol, cigarettes, and toiletry (I tried the alcohol).
Let’s assume you’re buying $100 worth of groceries. All $100 is SNAP-eligible to make this easy math. You have $60 left on your food stamp EBT card.
The cash register person scans your food and rings up $100 worth of groceries. You hand them the SNAP EBT card. They will scan the card and apply everything they can to that card. In this case, it’s $60 since that’s what is left on your card.
After they scan your SNAP EBT card and apply the $60, you now owe the remaining $40. You will just pay the $40 out of your own pocket.
In this case, you got $100 worth of food for $40.
What Can Food Stamps Buy?
I’ve been there. Sitting in the store wondering if this item I’m looking at can be bought with food stamps.
Sometimes whether you can buy the product with food stamps determines whether or not you get groceries that week.
So, let’s look at what you can buy with food stamps.
You can use food stamps to buy groceries, snacks, and seeds or plants that will produce food.
You can’t use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, live animals, prepared foods, or any non-food household items.
WIC food packages typically include cereal, juice, eggs, milk, peanut butter, dried and canned beans, tofu, fruits and vegetables, and whole-wheat bread. WIC packages also include canned fish and cheese for breastfeeding moms and baby food for babies.
Any food for the household, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables;
- Meat, poultry, and fish;
- Dairy products;
- Bread and cereals;
- Other foods such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and
- Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements. If an item has a Supplement Facts label, it is considered a supplement and is not eligible for SNAP purchase.
- Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from the water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
- Prepared Foods fit for immediate consumption
- Hot foods
- Any nonfood items such as:
- Pet foods
- Cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies.
- Hygiene items, cosmetics
Essentially, you can only buy food that you can take home to your family to prepare and feed them. It is your responsibility to buy the correct things with your food stamps.
Your EBT card might not automatically block these purchases. If you’re using your EBT card at a store, and plan on buying items on the list above, you should separate your orders. Just tell the cashier that you are paying for the separated food separately.
Relying on your EBT card to decline your ability to purchase foods you’re not allowed to buy can bring penalties on you. Even if you didn’t mean for it to happen, you can still face penalties if one of these purchases goes through on your EBT card.
Related: Georgia Property Tax Liens
If your EBT card is used to buy these things, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will automatically set up a hearing to determine whether or not you broke the law. You will continue to get your benefits until the hearing.
If DHHS finds that you used your EBT card to buy banned items, the penalties are very serious. First, any money spent on banned items will need to be paid back. You can also lose your benefits for:
- 3 months the first time
- 1 year the second time, and
- 2 years every time after that
When Do Food Stamps Come In?
Georgia sends out food stamp benefits from the 5th to the 23rd of each month. The date that you receive your food stamps depends on the last two digits of your SNAP ID number.
|SNAP ID # Ends In||SNAP Benefits Date|
|00 – 09||5th of the Month|
|10 – 19||7th of the Month|
|20 – 29||9th of the Month|
|30 – 39||11th of the Month|
|40 – 49||13th of the Month|
|50 – 59||15th of the Month|
|60 – 69||17th of the Month|
|70 – 79||19th of the Month|
|80 – 89||21st of the Month|
|90 – 99||23rd of the Month|
What Do Food Stamps Look Like?
Originally, food stamps came in stamp books. These stamp books provided people with vouchers that they could use to purchase food, hence the name food stamps.
The EBT card, or food stamps card, looks like a debit card. Food stamps are not stamps as the name would imply.
Can Food Stamps Buy Formula?
You can purchase baby formula with food stamps. This includes infant formula, baby cereals, baby food, and any other eligible baby foods.
Apply for Food Stamps in Georgia
If you’re looking for a walkthrough of how to apply for food stamps, this article will walk you through the process of how to apply for food stamps online in Georgia.
How Do I Apply for Food Stamps Online?
First, you need to head over to the Georgia Gateway website where you can apply for food stamps.
If you don’t already have an application started for the food stamp program, you’ll want to Start a New Application and hit, “Next.”
On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to Create a New Account or Log In Using Your Existing Account. Select whichever one applies to you.
You’ll notice that this section asks “Are you an Authorized Representative.”
An authorized representative is the person that applies for your food stamps for you. They can also manage your food stamps for you. Meaning, they can go buy groceries on your behalf with the food stamps.
You can always ask a family member, friend, or social services agency to help you fill out an application. They can also accompany you to a local DTA office or participate in a phone interview with you – with your permission.
But YOU should sign and YOU need to participate in the interview. That’s because you are legally responsible for all the information on the application. If the helping friend or agency gives DTA incorrect information – or leaves out information that is important to tell DTA – you may end up with a SNAP overpayment, or worse. And the helping agency that gave DTA wrong information could be legally liable too!
On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to fill out security questions. These are used to verify that you are who you say you are when you forget your password in two years and need to reset it. Make sure that you select answers that are easy to remember.
For example, don’t pick, “Who is your favorite artist?” Who you like now will not be the same as who you like in two years and you will be confused and potentially forget the answer you selected.
Related: How To Stop Foreclosure In Georgia
Pick something easy to remember like, “Who was your first-grade teacher?” It’s based on facts, not opinions, which is easier to remember.
If you are applying for food stamps for the first time, select “Apply for Benefits.”
If you have already applied for benefits, you’ll want to jump back into your profile. For example, you may already receive TANF, Food Stamps, Medical Assistance, CAPs, or WIC benefits.
If you are enrolled in any of these programs, select the left button to add Food Stamps to your benefits package.
If you are applying for yourself, meaning you are the one filling out the application and you are the person the benefits are going to, then select “Self.”
After that, select which benefits you are applying for. For this example, we are only applying for food stamps.
Select the two appropriate options and hit “Next.”
So far, it’s been pretty easy. Now we are going to get into some household numbers to make sure that you qualify for food stamp benefits.
When answering the question about the number of people below or above 60 years old, don’t overcomplicate it.
Let’s say that you are applying for food stamps, you’re 40, and your parents who are 70 live with you and your two kids.
There are 5 total people in the household.
There are three people under the age of 59 – you and your two kiddos.
There are 2 people living in your household above 60 – your two parents in their 70s.
You would put ‘3’ in the first box and ‘2’ in the second box.
For total monthly income, this is the total income for the entire house (excluding a teenager).
So, let’s add up everyone’s income in your household for the example in pictured above. We have a total of $2,100 in total monthly income with two people under 59 years old.
So, let’s say that you make $1,100 per month and your partner makes $1,000 per month. Your combined monthly income is $2,100.
$1,100 + $1,000 = $2,100
How much your rent or mortgage does not include your utilities.
If you are renting, it can include everything included in your monthly rent payment. For example, if you pay $700 per month in rent, $80 for a garage, and $20 for a pet fee, that’s $800 in rent payments to your landlord.
If you own a home, it’s the entire PITI, or Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. To make that easy, it’s the monthly payment you make to the bank for your house. The bank already includes all of this in the monthly payment.
[SNAP Pre-Qualifying Fail]
The food stamps application system has a pre-screening system that will automatically tell you whether or not you qualify or do not.
If you do not qualify, meaning you make too much money to NEED food stamps, then you will automatically not be allowed to complete the application.
But don’t lie here. That’s considered fraud.
[SNAP Pre-Qualifying Pass]
If your income versus your expenses qualifies you for food stamps, then this screen will let you know that you are potentially eligible.
It’s ‘Potentially Eligible” because they have to confirm your information with documents that you will provide at a later date.
I’m not sure why they don’t take bills into account BEFORE they pre-qualify you, but it’s how the cookie crumbles.
For this section, fill out your recurring monthly bills associated with your housing.
Rent is the amount you pay each month to your landlord.
Mortgage is the amount you pay each month to your bank.
Tax On Home only applies if you own the property. If you’re unsure about this, type your address into Zillow and scroll down to Price and Tax History.
To show you this, I picked a random house in Decatur, GA.
The image from Zillow shows that the taxes for the previous year were $4,829. In the ‘Bills’ picture, this is where you put the amount of taxes that you found on Zillow for your house. Simply take your tax amount and divide by 12 to find out how much you pay each month in property taxes.
$4,829 / 12 Months = $402.42 per Month
Water and Sewer should be on your monthly bill. If the amount you pay each month fluctuates, then you should average the last 12 months of water bills and put that average in.
The average that you find is what you’d put into the Water and Sewer field.
Electricity and Natural Gas or Propane is going to follow the same calculations as Water and Sewer. For each one, find out what your monthly bills are, add them up, and divide by 12 months.
Phone can be your cell phone bill if that’s what you use at your home. If you have multiple people in the house and they each have a cell phone, then use the total cell phone bill.
If someone’s cell phone is on the plan that does not live with you, you cannot count their phone bills towards the Phone.
Home Insurance is something that you will have to call your insurance company and ask how much you are paying each month. Sometimes they will give you how much you owe for 6 months or 12 months, but ask for the monthly amount you are paying on your home.
If you have Other Bills related to your household that you cannot cancel (i.e., internet) then add those here.
Select your Heating and Cooling Source. If you are unsure if your appliances are electric or gas, follow these guidelines.
If you just moved into a new place with a washer and dryer hookup but no appliances, you can tell by simply looking at the outlet. Gas dryers run on electricity to do things like power the lights and turn the drum, but they heat with gas. So, the outlet should look pretty typical, and there will be a capped off gas line in the vicinity. If the outlet is larger — it may have three or four holes for prongs — and you don’t see a gas line, chances are you’ve got an electric setup (which typically runs on 240 volts). You can snap a picture of the outlet and bring it with you to the appliance store, and they should be able to confirm for you.– Digital Trends
That’s it! You’ve applied for food stamps in Georgia.
On this screen, you will receive your tracking number. Write this T# down somewhere that you will not lose it.
What Do I Need to Apply for Food Stamps?
Here is a list of documents that you need to apply for food stamps for each applicant:
- Proof of Identity (State ID or Passport)
- Citizenship or Immigration Status
- Social Security Numbers
- Proof of Household Income
- Copy of Lease or Mortgage Bills
- Birth Certificates for Children in the Household
- Proof of Utility Bills (Gas, Electricity, and Water)
- Child Care Expenses
Where Do I Apply for Food Stamps?
You can either apply for food stamps online through Georgia Gateway or at your local Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Office.
Can I Apply for Food Stamps Online?
People are encouraged to access their Georgia Gateway account or apply for benefits online to Apply for Benefits, Create an Account or Login to check the status, renew your benefits, or make changes to your account.
Applying online allows Georgia Gateway to process your food stamps application faster because they are not bottlenecked by people showing up in person to apply for food stamps.
But, if you need to go to the unemployment office in Georgia to apply in person, here are the major unemployment office addresses for Georgia.
Food Stamps Office Georgia
Food Stamp Office Atlanta
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Atlanta is 2 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Atlanta is: (404) 657-3459
Food Stamp Office Lawrenceville
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Lawrenceville is 95 Constitution Blvd, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Lawrenceville is: (678) 518-5500
Food Stamp Office Decatur
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Decatur is 2300 Parklake Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA 30345 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Decatur is: (404) 370-5076
Food Stamp Office Savannah
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Savannah is 761 Wheaton St, Savannah, GA 31401 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Savannah is: (912) 644-5956
Food Stamp Office Columbus
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Columbus is 2100 Comer Ave, Columbus, GA 31904 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Columbus is: (706) 321-2673
Food Stamp Office Cobb County
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Cobb County is 325 Fairground St SE, Marietta, GA 30060 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Cobb County is: (770) 528-7683
Food Stamp Office Fulton County
Fulton County has three Food Stamp Offices [Google Maps].
The addresses for the Food Stamp Offices in Fulton County are:
- 1249 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 – (877) 423-4746
- 515 Fairburn Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30331 – (404) 206-5778
- 2 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 – (404) 657-3459
Food Stamp Office in Dekalb County
The address for the Food Stamp Office in Dekalb County is 2300 Parklake Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA 30345 [Google Maps].
The phone number for the Food Stamp Office in Dekalb County is: (404) 370-5076