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Food Stamps Help Working Families (Audio-MP3)

Authored By: Northwestern Legal Services
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Northwestern Legal ServicesThis audio recording provides an overview of benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) and how they can help low-income and working families, what types of items they can be used to purchase, eligibility information, and how the food stamp transactions are processed in Pennsylvania. The full text of the audio recording appears below.

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Food Stamps are designed to help low-income people buy the food they need for good health. Many working families do not realize they are eligible for this important benefit that can be used at most grocery stores and supermarkets. Authorized restaurants can also accept food stamps in exchange for meals.

Households can use food stamps to buy foods such as breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, as well as seeds and plants that grow food for the home. Sales tax cannot be charged on items bought with food stamps, but keep in mind that food stamps cannot be exchanged for cash.

Food stamps CANNOT be used for certain items such as beer, liquor, cigarettes, pet foods, soaps, paper products, and household supplies.

If you or any member of your household is receiving Cash Assistance or SSI, you are eligible for food stamps, regardless of your income. If a member of your household is elderly or disabled, and if you have high medical care or housing costs, you may be eligible for food stamps regardless of your income. U.S. citizens and some non-citizens who are admitted for permanent residency can qualify.

For other households not receiving cash assistance or SSI, your monthly income cannot exceed certain limits set by the federal government each year in order to qualify for the program. You also cannot exceed certain limits on other resources such as savings accounts, stocks and bonds.

Pennsylvania issues food stamps using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system. EBT uses a plastic card similar to an ATM card to transfer funds from a food stamp account to a retailer's account. With an EBT card, food stamp customers pay for groceries without any paper coupons changing hands.

You can apply for benefits by completing an application with PA Department of Public Welfare or using the COMPASS website below.
The COMPASS site is available in many languages other than English.

Food Stamps are a great way to provide for your family's nutritional needs.

Last Review and Update: Jun 26, 2008