Food Stamps

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Administered by:

US Federal Government Agency (see all agencies)
Department of Agriculture , Food and Nutrition Service
CFDA #: 10.551

Purpose of this program:

To improve diets of low-income households by increasing their food purchasing ability.

Possible uses and use restrictions...

Households receive food stamp benefits which varies according to household size and income. The maximum allotment for a household's size is reduced by 30 percent of the net income. Food stamp benefits may be used in participating retail stores to buy food for home consumption and garden seeds and plants to produce food for personal consumption. In certain remote areas of Alaska, recipients may use food stamp benefits to purchase hunting and fishing equipment (excluding equipment for transportation, clothing and shelter, firearms, ammunition and other explosives), for procurement of food. Food stamp benefits may be used by certain elderly and handicapped persons, and their spouses, who cannot prepare their own meals to have meals delivered to them in their homes by authorized meal delivery services. Elderly and certain disabled persons and their spouses may also use food stamp benefits to purchase meals in establishments providing communal dining for the elderly. Drug addicts and alcoholics who are participating in approved rehabilitation programs may use food stamp benefits to purchase meals prepared by the program. Disabled or blind persons receiving benefits under Titles I, II, X, XIV, or XVI of the Social Security Act may use food stamp benefits to purchase meals prepared and served under certain group living arrangements. Residents of shelters for battered women and children may use food stamp benefits to purchase meals prepared by shelters. Homeless persons eligible for food stamp benefits may purchase prepared meals from an authorized establishment approved to feed them. As provided by Public Law 105-18, States have the option to pay the cost of providing food stamps to non- citizens made ineligible for them by welfare reform (Public Law 104- 193), and to individuals disqualified by the new work requirement included in welfare reform. As of February 2002, 7 States (California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and Wisconsin) are operating State option programs to provide food stamp benefits to some or all otherwise eligible non-citizens.

Who is eligible to apply...

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.

Eligible Applicant Categories:
Eligible Functional Categories:

Households are individually certified by local welfare offices based on National eligibility standards, with verification as required by regulation. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Note:This is a brief description of the credentials or documentation required prior to, or along with, an application for assistance.

About this section:

This section indicates who can apply to the Federal government for assistance and the criteria the potential applicant must satisfy. For example, individuals may be eligible for research grants, and the criteria to be satisfied may be that they have a professional or scientific degree, 3 years of research experience, and be a citizen of the United States. Universities, medical schools, hospitals, or State and local governments may also be eligible. Where State governments are eligible, the type of State agency will be indicated (State welfare agency or State agency on aging) and the criteria that they must satisfy.

Certain federal programs (e.g., the Pell Grant program which provides grants to students) involve intermediate levels of application processing, i.e., applications are transmitted through colleges or universities that are neither the direct applicant nor the ultimate beneficiary. For these programs, the criteria that the intermediaries must satisfy are also indicated, along with intermediaries who are not eligible.

How to apply...

Application Procedure:

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 Food Stamp Program will be conducted in every political subdivision within the State. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110.

Note: Each program will indicate whether applications are to be submitted to the Federal headquarters, regional or local office, or to a State or local government office.

Award Procedure:

The Secretary of Agriculture designates each State agency that operates the program upon submission of a request.

Note: Grant payments may be made by a letter of credit, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check. Awards may be made by the headquarters office directly to the applicant, an agency field office, a regional office, or by an authorized county office. The assistance may pass through the initial applicant for further distribution by intermediate level applicants to groups or individuals in the private sector.

Deadlines and process...


The authority to continue the Food Stamp Program has been extended through September 30, 2002.

Note: When available, this section indicates the deadlines for applications to the funding agency which will be stated in terms of the date(s) or between what dates the application should be received. When not available, applicants should contact the funding agency for deadline information.

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.

Preapplication Coordination

None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372 and OMB Circular No. A-102.

Note: This section indicates whether any prior coordination or approval is required with governmental or nongovernmental units prior to the submission of a formal application to the federal funding agency.


There are no appeals.

Note: In some cases, there are no provisions for appeal. Where applicable, this section discusses appeal procedures or allowable rework time for resubmission of applications to be processed by the funding agency. Appeal procedures vary with individual programs and are either listed in this section or applicants are referred to appeal procedures documented in the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


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

Note: In some instances, renewal procedures may be the same as for the application procedure, e.g., for projects of a non-continuing nature renewals will be treated as new, competing applications; for projects of an ongoing nature, renewals may be given annually.

Who can benefit...

Households may participate if they are found by local welfare officials to be in need of food assistance. Examples include most households who are receiving some form of welfare assistance, or are unemployed, part-time employed, working for low wages, or living on limited pensions. Eligibility is based on family size, income, and level of resources. Able-bodied adults with certain limited exceptions must meet a work requirement.

About this section:

This section lists the ultimate beneficiaries of a program, the criteria they must satisfy and who specifically is not eligible. The applicant and beneficiary will generally be the same for programs that provide assistance directly from a Federal agency. However, financial assistance that passes through State or local governments will have different applicants and beneficiaries since the assistance is transmitted to private sector beneficiaries who are not obligated to request or apply for the assistance.

What types of assistance...

Direct Payments for Specified Use

Financial assistance from the Federal government provided directly to individuals, private firms, and other private institutions to encourage or subsidize a particular activity by conditioning the receipt of the assistance on a particular performance by the recipient. This does not include solicited contracts for the procurement of goods and services for the Federal government.

How much financial aid...

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Varies by income and family size. Averaged $74.79 per month, per person, in fiscal year 2001.

Note: This section lists the representative range (smallest to largest) of the amount of financial assistance available. These figures are based upon funds awarded in the past fiscal year and the current fiscal year to date. Also indicated is an approximate average amount of awards which were made in the past and current fiscal years.


(Direct payments to individuals) FY 02 $16,593,485,000; FY 03 est $19,423,936,000; and FY 04 est $22,602,142,000.

Note: The dollar amounts listed in this section represent obligations for the past fiscal year (PY), estimates for the current fiscal year (CY), and estimates for the budget fiscal year (BY) as reported by the Federal agencies. Obligations for non-financial assistance programs indicate the administrative expenses involved in the operation of a program.

Account Identification


Note: Note: This 11-digit budget account identification code represents the account which funds a particular program. This code should be consistent with the code given for the program area as specified in Appendix III of the Budget of the United States Government.

Examples of funded projects...

Not applicable.

About this section

This section indicates the different types of projects which have been funded in the past. Only projects funded under Project Grants or Direct Payments for Specified Use should be listed here. The examples give potential applicants an idea of the types of projects that may be accepted for funding. The agency should list at least five examples of the most recently funded projects.

Program accomplishments...

During fiscal year 2001, every area in every State operated a Food Stamp Program. Participation per month averaged 17.32 million persons.

Criteria for selecting proposals...

Not applicable.

Assistance considerations...

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

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

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).

A formula may be based on population, per capita income, and other statistical factors. Applicants are informed whether there are any matching requirements to be met when participating in the cost of a project. In general, the matching share represents that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal government. Attachment F of OMB Circular No. A-102 (Office of Management and Budget) sets forth the criteria and procedures for the evaluation of matching share requirements which may be cash or in-kind contributions made by State and local governments or other agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals to satisfy matching requirements of Federal grants or loans.

Cash contributions represent the grantees' cash outlay, including the outlay of money contributed to the grantee by other public agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals. When authorized by Federal regulation, Federal funds received from other grants may be considered as the grantees' cash contribution.

In-kind contributions represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee, other public agencies and institutions, private organizations or individuals. In-kind contributions may consist of charges for real property and equipment, and value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the grant program. When authorized by Federal legislation, property purchased with Federal funds may be considered as grantees' in-kind contribution.

Maintenance of effort (MOE) is a requirement contained in certain legislation, regulations, or administrative policies stating that a grantee must maintain a specified level of financial effort in a specific area in order to receive Federal grant funds, and that the Federal grant funds may be used only to supplement, not supplant, the level of grantee funds.

Post assistance requirements...


Annual budget summary statements; monthly report of coupons with a summary of inventory of coupons on hand (unless State Agency has converted to exclusive EBT issuance Statewide); monthly and annual quality control reports; quarterly financial status report; quarterly report on claims against households; monthly mail issuance report provided quarterly; monthly issuance reconciliation report; monthly issuance and participation estimates; report of disqualified recipients; and cumulative totals for the fiscal year.

Note: This section indicates whether program reports, expenditure reports, cash reports or performance monitoring are required by the Federal funding agency, and specifies at what time intervals (monthly, annually, etc.) this must be accomplished.


Projects are subject to audit by Office of Inspector General, USDA.

Note: This section discusses audits required by the Federal agency. The procedures and requirements for State and local governments and nonprofit entities are set forth in OMB Circular No. A-133. These requirements pertain to awards made within the respective State's fiscal year - not the Federal fiscal year, as some State and local governments may use the calendar year or other variation of time span designated as the fiscal year period, rather than that commonly known as the Federal fiscal year (from October 1st through September 30th).


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

Note: This section indicates the record retention requirements and the type of records the Federal agency may require. Not included are the normally imposed requirements of the General Accounting Office. For programs falling under the purview of OMB Circular No. A-102, record retention is set forth in Attachment C. For other programs, record retention is governed by the funding agency's requirements.



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.

Note: This section lists the legal authority upon which a program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the U.S. Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

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.

Contact information...

Web Sites
Regional Or Local Office

See the Food and Nutrition Service Regional Offices listed in Additional Contact Information - FMR Help.

Note: This section lists the agency contact person, address and telephone number of the Federal Regional or Local Office(s) to be contacted for detailed information regarding a program such as: (1) current availability of funds and the likelihood of receiving assistance within a given period; (2) pre-application and application forms required; (3) whether a pre-application conference is recommended; (4) assistance available in preparation of applications; (5) whether funding decisions are made at the headquarters, regional or local level; (6) application renewal procedures (including continuations and supplementals) or appeal procedures for rejected applications; and (7) recently published program guidelines and material. However, for most federal programs, this section will instruct the reader to consult the so-called Appendix IV of the Catalog due to the large volume of Regional and Local Office Contacts for most agencies. This information is provided in Additional Contact Information (see below).

Headquarters Office

Deputy Administrator, Food Stamp Program, Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA 22302. Contact: Bonny O'Neil, Acting Deputy Administrator, Food Stamp Program. Telephone: (703) 305-2026. Use the same number for FTS.

Note: This section lists names and addresses of the office at the headquarters level with direct operational responsibility for managing a program. A telephone number is provided in cases where a Regional or Local Office is not normally able to answer detailed inquiries concerning a program. Also listed are the name(s) and telephone number(s) of the information contact person(s) who can provide additional program information to applicants.

Additional Contact Information (Appendix IV)

Due to the large volume of regional and local office contacts for most agencies, full contact information is also provided separately here in a PDF format: