SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps), is a federal safety net program providing low-income Americans with the food they need to feed themselves and their families. In most cases, SNAP is a temporary, short term solution for individuals and families to help until they get back on their feet. On average, SNAP participants stay on the program less than a year. The SNAP program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture and is administered in Arkansas through the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
ISSUES FACING SOCIAL PROGRAMS
The federal budgeting process is in full swing. Find out why block-granting SNAP is a bad idea. Watch this video from the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities.
How it works.
SNAP benefits are delivered monthly to eligible participants through electronic debit (EBT) cards that can be used to purchase groceries. Most grocery stores in Arkansas accept SNAP. The EBT cards are programmed to allow the purchase of food but deny other household purchases such as vitamin supplements, hot or prepared food, non-food grocery items, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. For most households, SNAP benefits will not cover their total monthly food cost. To ensure their families have enough food on the table, many low income people must depend on their local food pantries to bridge the gap until the next month’s benefit is available.
Eligibility is based on income and assets, ability to work, citizenship and whether there are children or elderly in the home. If you own a home or a car, you may still be eligible for benefits, so go to www.access.arkansas.gov for eligibility details or call your DHS County Office to see if you qualify for SNAP benefits.
How to sign up
If you have access to the internet at home, work or at your local library, you can apply for benefits online at www.access.arkansas.gov. It’s simple to find out if you qualify. If you do, the website makes it easy to sign up and begin getting the nutritious foods you and your family need to stay healthy. If you don’t have internet access or need additional help in applying for SNAP benefits call 1-800-482-8988. TDD: 501682-8820
Mobile Enrollment Unit or SNAP-mobile
The mobile units go to events in communities all across the state to enroll Arkansans who qualify for SNAP benefits. Watch for the SNAP-mobile in your town.
For more information:
SNAP qualifications and enrollment: www.access.arkansas.gov
Downloadable SNAP forms: http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/dco/Pages/SupportServices.aspx
Volunteer information: Jill Pryor, SNAP Outreach Director at 501-399-9999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EBT cards: www.humanservices.arkansas.gov/dco/Pages/ebt.aspx
Fresh2You Mobile Farmers Market
Arkansas ranks consistently among the highest in the nation for household and child food insecurity. Lack of transportation and poverty, as well as physical disability makes it difficult for Arkansans to travel miles to find a grocery store. The Fresh2You mobile farmers market brings fresh produce to areas of Pulaski County with the greatest need. The mobile market scheduled stops are evolving. The bus currently stops at:
13th & Cedar Street
Little Rock, AR
9:30 am – 1:30 pm
The mobile farmers market concept has been piloted in various parts of the nation with good results in increasing access to fresh produce for those low income people who live in food deserts. The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance conceived of putting the Fresh2You Mobile Farmers Market in action and gathered the partners needed to make it a reality. As part of the larger Arkansas Hunger and Nutrition Initiative funded by a grant from the Blue & You Foundation, the mobile market serves those people in food deserts and other places in Pulaski County where there are significant barriers to accessing fresh produce. The mobile market stops are in relatively impoverished areas, however there are no formal restriction on who can buy from the market.
A food desert is any area devoid of adequate fresh fruits, vegetables or other whole foods. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, food distributors or farmers markets in high poverty areas. The Fresh2You Mobile Farmers Market is an example of how a unique partnership is creating access to fresh produce and nutrition education in Arkansas’s food deserts. The mobile farmers market bus was donated by Rock Region, central Arkansas’s transit system, and retrofitted with assistance from the Blue & You Foundation and Union Pacific. Produce for the market is being provided by local growers when possible as well as produce wholesalers in order to provide variety. The Fresh2You mobile market accepts EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards.
Because nutrition education is a critical part of helping people stretch their food budgets, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters recipes are provided to help shoppers with nutritious meal preparation ideas for the mobile market’s selection.
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance hopes this pilot program will inspire other communities around the state to develop similar mobile markets to meet the needs of the food insecure in their areas.
EBT cards: www.humanservices.arkansas.gov/dco/Pages/ebt.aspx
New Rules Effecting Able-bodied Adults without Dependents
The time limits allowing able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to receive food assistance benefits have changed. The resources below will help you find out more about these changes and how they may impact you. For more information about Employment and Training Opportunity programs in your county, see the listing of County offices where these E&T programs are offered.
The DHS Volunteer Form should be filled out by with a supervisor at the volunteer workfare site and submit to the volunteer’s caseworker.: DHS Volunteer Agreement Form
For More Than A Million Food Stamp Recipients, The Clock Is Now Ticking, National Public Radio, 2015.
Become A SNAP Outreach Volunteer
The Alliance provides SNAP Outreach services to food pantries, senior centers and other organizations across the state that come into contact with people who may be eligible for SNAP benefits. Our SNAP Outreach team helps people assess eligibility, complete the application and answer questions they may have. If you would like to be a SNAP Outreach volunteer in your community, click here for more information.
Food Stamp Myths
MYTH: SNAP is a welfare program.
TRUTH: SNAP is a nutrition assistance program designed to help individuals and families buy food when money is tight. Most people who work at low-wage jobs can qualify for nutrition assistance.
MYTH: Some people receive only $14 a month in SNAP benefits.
TRUTH: The average monthly SNAP benefit is $112 for an individual and up to $649 per month for a family of four.
MYTH: You cannot get SNAP benefits if you have a job.
TRUTH: Individuals may work and still have income low enough to receive SNAP benefits. In 2013 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data, 41% of Arkansans receiving SNAP benefits were in working families. Almost 74% of all SNAP recipients in Arkansas were in families with children, 45% were children, and more than 34% were in families with elderly or disabled members. All together, 87% of SNAP households in Arkansas contain a child, a senior or a person who is disabled.
SNAP benefits play an important role for families, providing critical support especially when unemployment benefits run out. With less than ten percent of SNAP households also receiving TANF assistance, SNAP provides a vital safety net for low-income families.
MYTH: People are buying expensive cuts of meat and seafood (like crab legs and lobster) with their SNAP benefits.
TRUTH: The average monthly SNAP benefit per person, per meal is $1.24.
MYTH: SNAP is a drain on taxpayers.
TRUTH: For every dollar of SNAP benefits, $1.84 goes into the local economy. SNAP households usually shop in their local grocery stores and actually help their local economy.
MYTH: SNAP is rife with fraud and abuse.
TRUTH: Due to more than a decade of increased oversight by USDA and the introduction of the Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) to replace food stamps, fraud in the SNAP program is at an all time low. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office found that “trafficking,” a fraudulent activity often cited in the media, has decreased from 3.8 cents per dollar of benefits to about 1 cent per dollar of benefits.
MYTH: You have to go to a DHS County office to apply for SNAP benefits. Then you have to go back to the County office for an interview and to turn in required documents.
TRUTH: Arkansas is one of the states where an individual does not ever have to go to a County office to receive SNAP benefits. A person may apply on-line; phone interviews can replace face-to-face meetings; a person may fax or mail copies of required documentation.
MYTH: People who own a car or have a checking account are not eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
TRUTH: A household can have up to $2000 in assets (such as bank accounts) in addition to a home and a car. In Arkansas, one car is totally excluded from consideration of eligibility.
MYTH: Once people begin receiving SNAP benefits, they tend to stay in the SNAP program for the rest of their lives.
TRUTH: The average SNAP household receives benefits for eight months. Half of all new SNAP households leave the program after ten months.
Screen & Intervene: Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older Adults
A free new online course, “Screen & Intervene: Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” from FRAC and the AARP Foundation is designed to educate health care and community-based providers around the country about the extent of senior hunger and the solutions that exist to solve it. The course provides training on how to screen patients 50 and older for food insecurity, and information on how to connect food-insecure patients to key nutrition resources, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (pdf) — the first line of defense against hunger for millions of Americans. This one-hour course is approved for 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (for MDs and DOs). In addition, all learners can download a certificate of participation upon completion of the course. Register for the course at seniorhealthandhunger.org.