Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps) is a critical work support, which provides food assistance for nearly 1.8 million low-income New Yorkers including families, the elderly and the disabled. The primary goal of the program is to help families supplement the cost of their diet with nutritious foods. New York City encourages using SNAP benefits to make healthier choices by purchasing fruits, vegetables and other nutritious items.

By using a debit card, you can spend your SNAP benefits and help stretch your dollars. SNAP benefits can be used at many locations, including supermarkets, most farmers markets, and some Green Carts.

Many people don’t know they are eligible for SNAP benefits. You can own your own home or car, have money saved, or be an immigrant and still be eligible for SNAP. Each application is evaluated on an individual basis — for most households, eligibility to receive benefits is based on household size, income and some household expenses.

If you are eligible for SNAP, you will receive benefits within 30 days. In some cases, emergency benefits can be issued sooner through Expedited Processing.

If you need food immediately, go to 311 Online or call toll free 866-888-8777 to find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you. The New York City Emergency Food Assistance Program helps to supply food to more than 550 food pantries and community kitchens throughout the City. There are locations throughout the five boroughs.

How to Apply for SNAP Benefits

Step 1. Get an application
Download an application or pick on up at your local SNAP Center. You can also call 718-557-1399 to have one sent to you by mail.

Step 2. Fill out the application
Anyone may fill out an application. Answer as many questions as you can. If you need help filling out an application, please ask for help at your local SNAP Center.

Step 3. Submit your application
Submit the completed application to your local SNAP Center. The completed application and required documentation (listed below these instructions) can be submitted in person, by mail or by fax. If you are submitting your application in person, you have the right to be screened to see if you are eligible for Expedited Processing.

Step 4: Set up an interview
Set up an interview when you submit your application in person, or call your local SNAP Center after submitting by mail or fax. At your interview, you will need to provide a variety of documents to prove your identity and circumstances. They are listed below.

Required Documentation:

  • Proof of identity: photo ID, driver’s license, passport, naturalization certificate, hospital/doctor’s records, or adoption papers.
  • Social Security numbers for everyone applying. If you do not have a number, you will have to apply for one.
  • Proof of immigration status for non-citizens. You do not have to provide any immigration information on people who are not applying for SNAP Benefits.
  • Proof of address, unless you are homeless: apartment or house lease, electric, gas, water or phone bill, rent book or receipt, or mortgage statement.
  • If you are homeless, proof of shelter costs. If you want us to count your actual utility expenses, you will have to verify them.
  • Proof of income before taxes or deductions: current pay stubs, employer wage statement, tax benefits letter from Social Security unemployment compensation, Veterans Administration or pensions.
  • Proof of child support payments if you want us to consider the amount you pay: support order, separation agreement, or child support records.
  • Proof of child care expenses if you are working, looking for work or in training.
  • Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses if you are age 60 or older or receive federal disability benefits: doctor or hospital bills, prescription receipts, receipts for over-the-counter medical expenses if prescribed by a medical practitioner, or transportation costs to get to medical care

Further Information

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered by New York City Human Resources Administration‘s Family Independence Administration (FIA), which coordinates HRA’s Job and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program centers and employment programs to help New Yorkers in need move toward self-sufficiency.

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political belief, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964  (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

What items can be purchased with SNAP Benefits?

  • Food or food products meant to be eaten by people.
  • Vegetable seeds and food-producing plants, roots, and trees for family consumption
  • Baby formula, diabetic and diet foods
  • Edible items used in preparing or preserving food such as spices, herbs, pectin and shortening
  • Water and ice labeled for human consumption
  • Snack foods

What items cannot be purchased with SNAP Benefits?

  • Prepared hot foods in grocery stores
  • Any prepared food (hot or cold) sold and meant to be eaten at the store
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
  • Cleaning products, paper products, toiletries, and cooking utensils
  • Pet supplies
  • Items for food preservation such as canning jars and lids, freezer containers, or food wrapping paper
  • Medicines, vitamins or minerals
  • Items for gardening such as fertilizer and peat moss

Expedited Processing
In some cases, emergency benefits can be issued within five days. You may be able to get Expedited Processing if:

  • Your household has less than $100 in cash or other available resources and will have less than $150 in gross income during the month that you apply, or
  • Your combined income and available resources in the month of application are less than the sum of your rent or mortgage plus heat, utilities and phone, or
  • At least one person in the household is a destitute migrant or seasonal farm worker and his/her cash and bank accounts are not more than $100.

If you meet the criteria for Expedited Processing you will be scheduled for an interview within two days. This appointment is to see if you are eligible for Expedited SNAP Benefits. NOTE: You do not need to be out of food to get Expedited Processing for SNAP Benefits.

Emergency Food Assistance Program
If you need food immediately, go to 311 Online or call toll free 866-888-8777 to find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you. The New York City Emergency Food Assistance Program helps to supply food to more than 550 food pantries and community kitchens throughout the City. There are locations throughout the five boroughs.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program is administered by the Office of Emergency Intervention Services, which responds to citywide emergencies such as hurricanes and snow storms, administers home energy assistance benefits and emergency food assistance, and conducts nutritional outreach for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.