Acquiring food assistance, or food stamps, can be a time-consuming and intensive process. However, if you are in a dire situation, you may be eligible for emergency food assistance or expedited benefits by contacting a local Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in your state. Conditions for receiving food stamps are often stringent and may be even more so if you are applying for emergency access to the program.
Financial Requirements for Food Assistance
The potential recipient of emergency food stamps must be in immediate financial need. These requirements can vary by state or city. In New York City, for example, your household must have less than $100 in hand and will have less than $150 during the month. Alternatively, your household income must be less than your rent, heat, utilities and phone bills. A third way to qualify is if one person in your household is a seasonal farm worker or migrant worker with less than $100 in cash.
In some states, assistance may be based on your household income. In Connecticut, for example, a household of four people must have a maximum income of $31,590. In New Mexico, the threshold is $40,095 for the same size household.
The welfare caseworker assigned to your request may ask for proof of bank balance information as well as information about monthly or annual income in order to determine that you are eligible for emergency food assistance.
Food Assistance and Disaster Relief
If you live in a region designated a disaster area, you may qualify for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, benefits. These are temporary benefits for disaster relief, provided by the the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, coordinated with state, local and volunteer organizations. In such a situation, D-SNAP benefits may supplement other food relief programs such as making food accessible in shelters or distributing food packages to homes
When Food Assistance Benefits Arrive
If you qualify for emergency food benefits, don't expect to receive stamps. Most local programs provide you with a card that works like an ATM card. Regular food assistance doesn't arrive for at least 30 days, but emergency food assistance can arrive much more quickly, since there is an element of urgency to the request. Generally, emergency food stamps are reserved for those who need immediate, short-term, help or those who are homeless. People who have recently lost their jobs are likely not eligible as they often have more resources at hand such as the benefit of unemployment or severance pay.