According to data collected by Healthy Southern Nevada, the percentage of individuals living in Clark County, Nevada, who were food insecure was 12.6% in 2017. These individuals didn’t have reliable access to nutritious food for reasons such as lack of money.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Nevada’s overall prevalence of food insecurity was, on average, comparable to other states. To help those living in Nevada who may be food insecure or at risk of facing food insecurity, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food to needy individuals and families. However, these individuals may not know how to obtain SNAP benefits, let alone that this program exists.
Dedicated social workers, such as those who graduate from a Master of Social Work program, understand the importance of Nevada SNAP and the assistance it brings to individuals and families. For those interested in learning more about SNAP and how to obtain benefits for themselves or for those in need, the following information will prove invaluable.
What Is the SNAP program?
According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, “SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency.” It’s the modern-day version of the food stamp program, which was first enacted in 1939, but “ended in the spring of 943, ‘since the conditions that brought the program into being — unmarketable food surpluses and widespread unemployment — no longer existed,’” according to the USDA.
The Food Stamp Act of 1964 helped needy individuals and families across the country receive nutritious food. Throughout the decades, the program would undergo periods of expansion and different legislative changes. How many individuals benefit from SNAP can vary by state. For example, in Alabama, the SNAP program reached 804,000 state residents, or 1 in 6 individuals, in 2017, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). In Nevada, SNAP reached 441,000 state residents, or 1 in 7 individuals, in 2017.
According to the CBPP, the average SNAP recipient received $127 in benefits per month in 2018. As for how much SNAP costs taxpayers, the federal government spent $68 billion on SNAP and similar programs in 2018. Anticipated spending for maintaining the SNAP program, in relation to the overall gross domestic product, is expected to fall throughout the coming decade, the CBPP notes.
Who Qualifies for Nevada SNAP?
SNAP benefits are provided to individuals who meet certain requirements regarding income, residency, resources and more. A SNAP recipient must be a U.S. citizen or a “qualified alien.” The state’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services provides an extensive list of individuals who may be considered qualified aliens. One common provision, though, for qualified aliens is that they must have resided in the U.S. for at least five years to qualify for benefits.
The USDA provides a chart that details the income limits for SNAP recipients. The limits refer to the maximum monthly allowable income per household to be eligible for SNAP in Nevada and in other states. For example, in a household of one, the monthly net income limit is $1,041, so an individual has to earn less than that amount per month. In a household of eight, the monthly net income limit is $3,620. Benefits.gov provides a list of annual income requirements to be eligible for SNAP in Nevada.
Items known as “resources” are also considered when evaluating households for what SNAP program benefits they can receive. The USDA states that “currently, households may have $2,250 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled.” For example, a licensed car that’s worth $5,000 and completely owned by a household could count as a resource and make that family ineligible for SNAP. However, if members of that household use the same car for work-related tasks, such as deliveries or ride-share driving, or to transport a disabled family member, then the resource isn’t counted or evaluated in a SNAP application.While the program’s benefits are helpful to persons who may be unemployed, there are also work requirements to obtain SNAP, such as individuals registering for work, not voluntarily quitting jobs, and participating in employment and training programs, according to the USDA. Additional policies for obtaining SNAP in Nevada are available from the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.
How Do You Apply and Obtain Nevada SNAP Services?
There are several ways in which individuals and households can apply for and obtain Nevada SNAP services. To fill out an application online, Nevada state residents can visit the Access Nevada website. Here, they can start by completing a prescreen that can help them understand if they qualify for benefits. Next, they can complete an application by creating an account through Access Nevada. After their accounts have been created, individuals can sign in to the Access Nevada website. In the application itself, applicants will provide information regarding their households, incomes and other factors pertinent to the SNAP program. It may be beneficial to those applying for Nevada SNAP to have the necessary information regarding income, household, citizenship and resources prepared before filing an application.Other ways to file an application for Nevada SNAP include printing and completing a paper application and then mailing, faxing or dropping it off at a local welfare station, as well as completing the application at a welfare office itself, according to the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. After submitting their applications, applicants will be scheduled for an interview. According to the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services: “At your interview your case worker will explain the program rules and assist you in completing your application if necessary. During the interview process your case worker will also ask you for proof of certain information.”
How Do You Use Nevada SNAP Benefits?
Those who have their applications approved will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which will arrive no later than 30 days after the application is received. The EBT card is how they’ll be able to use and spend their SNAP benefits each month. The EBT card can be used at authorized food retailers, which can include grocery stores, convenience stores like 7-Eleven, and fast-food restaurants like Burger King. Stores interested in becoming SNAP retailers can complete an application online. SNAP recipients can use their EBT cards just like a debit or credit card to make purchases at these retailers.
In 2014, Nevada SNAP participants began to receive their benefits on the first day of each month. Because recipients only receive a certain amount each month, they need to allocate their SNAP resources to ensure that the resources last the entire month.There are also instances in which SNAP recipients, as well as certified retailers, may commit fraud or breach the regulations of the SNAP program. This can include swapping SNAP benefits for cash or providing falsified or inaccurate information on the initial SNAP application. Individuals who commit SNAP fraud can face criminal charges. Details regarding how the USDA Food and Nutrition Service is combating SNAP fraud is available on its website.
Additional Resources for Nevada SNAP
Resources regarding what the SNAP program is and the range and effectiveness of its services are available on the CBPP website. For example, the CBPP provides an interactive map that details the different types of workers who obtain SNAP benefits across the country. Additional organizations in Nevada can also help individuals and families in obtaining SNAP benefits. For example, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada has a SNAP Outreach staff to assist individuals with questions and concerns regarding their applications, eligibility and benefits received. SNAP recipients may also qualify for supplemental security income (SSI), if they’re over the age of 65 and/or blind or have disabilities. Similar to SNAP, SSI recipients must meet certain income limits to be eligible. Information regarding eligibility requirements and benefits is available in this sheet from the Social Security Administration.