Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See the Food and Nutrition Service Regional Offices listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments

During fiscal year 2007, every area in every State operated a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Participation per month averaged 26.47 million persons.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Households receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (Formally known as Food Stamp Program benefits) which vary according to household size and income.

The maximum allotment is based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan adjusted for household size; household allotments are based on Thrifty Food Plan amounts reduced by 30 percent of the available income after deducting certain expenses.

SNAP benefits are issued via electronic debit cards (Electronic Benefit Transfer) and for use in participating retail stores to buy food for home consumption.

The program is available to a limited number of institutionalized persons: drug addicts and alcoholics who are participating in approved rehabilitation centers, disabled or blind persons receiving benefits under Titles I, II, X, XIV, or XVI of the Social Security Act living in certain group living arrangements, residents of shelters for battered women and children, and homeless persons living in authorized shelters.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

The State or U.S.

Territory agency responsible for Federally aided public assistance programs submits requests for funding to USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Households eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by local social service agencies. Eligibility is based on family size, income, and resources. A gross income test is based on 130 percent of the poverty line, and the net income (after expenses) test is based on 100 percent of the poverty line. Households with elderly and disabled members need only meet the net income test. The resource limit is $2,000 ($3,000 for a household with an elderly or disabled member). Able-bodied adults with certain limited exceptions must meet a work requirement. Eligibility is limited to citizens and, most but not all, immigrants granted permanent legal status.


Households are certified by local social service offices based on National eligibility standards. Regulations require key eligibility factors to be verified. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372 and OMB Circular No.


Application Procedures

The Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended (Public Law 95-113), requires each State agency to submit to the Food and Nutrition Service for approval, a plan of operation specifying the manner in which the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be conducted in every political subdivision within the State. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedures

The Secretary of Agriculture approves State plans of operation submitted by the State agency that operates public assistance programs.


The authority to continue the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has been extended through September 30, 2008.


Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended, Public Law 95- 113, 91 Stat. 958, 7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.; Public Law 95-348, Public Law 96-58, Public Law 96-249, Public Law 97-35; Public Law 97-98; Public Law 97-253, Public Law 98-204, Public Law 98-369; Public Law 99-198, Public Law 99-425; Public Law 99-498, Public Law 99-603, Public Law 100-77, Public Law 100-175, Public Law 100-232, Public Law 100-387, Public Law 100-435, Public Law 100-503, Public Law 100-707, Public Law 101-202; Public Law 101-392; Public Law 101-508; Public Law 101-624; Public Law 102-237; Public Law 102-265; Public Law 102-325; Public Law 103-31; Public Law 103-66; Public Law 103-225; Public Law 103-286; Public Law 103-296; Public Law 104-66; Public Law 104-127; Public Law 104-193; Public Law 104-208; Public Law 105-18; Public Law 105-33; Public Law 105-185; Public Law 105-379; Public Law 106-171; Public Law 106-387; Public Law 107-171; Public Law 110-161.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Full implementation of the Nationwide mandate was completed in fiscal year 1975, except for certain Indian reservations which continued in the Food Distribution Program.




Program continues once approved, unless there is a substantial failure to comply with regulations or withdrawal on the part of the State.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Department of Agriculture pays 100 percent of the cost of benefits to individuals and households. The statistical factors used to set benefit levels are: (1) Cost of the thrifty food plan and the source is the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; and (2) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and components of the CPI (National, except for territories outside the continental United States) and the source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (CPI for urban wage earners and clerical workers annually). The statistical factor used for eligibility is nonfarm poverty income guidelines and the source is the Federal poverty guidelines (modified).

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Length of assistance period varies and time phasing is not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Annual budget summary statements; monthly and annual quality control reports; quarterly financial status report; quarterly report on claims against households; monthly issuance reconciliation report; monthly issuance and participation estimates; report of disqualified recipients; and cumulative totals for the fiscal year.


Programs operated by the State or on behalf of the State are subject to audit by Office of Inspector General, USDA.


Records of households certified, benefits issued, and records relating to any financial transaction are required and must be maintained for 3 years.

Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $30,319,569,235; FY 08 est $33,616,777,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Varies by income and family size. Averaged $95.64 per month, per person, in fiscal year 2007.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR 271-282. Available from the national office and the regional offices: "Facts About the Food Stamp Program, "PA-1340 (English) and PA-1340-S (Spanish); "Official Food List," FNS-110 (English), FNS-110-S (Spanish), FNS-110-K (Korean), FNS-110-V (Vietnamese), FNS-110 (English/Chinese), FNS-110-Alaska; FNS-136 EBT Do's and Don'ts/Penalties for Violations of the FSP; "USDA Food Assistance" (poster) FNS-200, fns-200-S (Spanish); "USDA Food Assistance" (flyer), FNS-182 (English), FNS-182-S (Spanish); Food Stamp Rights Poster, FNS-183 (English) and FNS-183-S (Spanish); Using Food Stamps Poster, FNS-283 (English) and FNS-283-S (Spanish); Team Nutrition Series of flyers (English/Spanish); "We Accept Food Stamps" (poster), FNS-132; "We Accept Food Stamps" (decal); FNS-1325, "We Accept Food Stamps" (Spanish), (poster and decal); FNS-240 (English) Report Abuse Poster.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See the Food and Nutrition Service Regional Offices listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA 22302. Contact: Jessica Shahin, Acting Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Telephone: (703) 305-2026. Use the same number for FTS.

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