Minnesota Food Assistance
Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of Minnesota, there are many sources for help with food. The Minnesota Food Supplement Program, food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are all helping residents in need to cope with hunger and food insecurity.
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Learn more about
SNAP benefits a.k.a. Food Stamps.
Who is eligible for SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) in Minnesota?
How to apply for Minnesota Food Assistance?
How does Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) determine eligibility?
Approved! When and how do I get the Food Stamps benefits?
How much Food Stamps benefits do participants receive per month?
How and where to use Food Stamps benefits?
Food Stamp (SNAP benefits) in Minnesota
Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In Minnesota, the SNAP is administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides federal grants and oversees the operation of Minnesota SNAP. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you get the food you need for sound nutrition and well-balanced meals.”
Approx. of the total Minnesota population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Minnesota
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Minnesota
Who is Eligible for Minnesota SNAP Benefits?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Minnesota are based on residency, limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, work requirement and other factors depending on the applicant case. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when using the federal grants to implement SNAP on State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the low‐income local population.
Minnesota Food Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
Minnesota applicants for SNAP benefits must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- State of Minnesota Resident – U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each household member between 16-59 years old must work, participate in employment and training program, or be registered to work;
- Income Test – Income limits eligibility depends on household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, and others. See the table with Minnesota food stamp income limits per household size below.
Some Minnesota residents may be automatically or so-called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means-tested assistance programs or getting any benefits from programs funded by federal grants. Getting any benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or getting the informational guide, brochure, or informational booklet funded by federal grants can make the applicant for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any TANF-funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible.
Quick Eligibility Check
Minnesota residents interested in food assistance can use this Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool, provided by the Federal Government, to find out if they might be eligible to get Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (Food Stamps). The Screening allows potential applicants for Minnesota food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Using the tool you are notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire, but you still have to make and sign an application at your local County DHS office, which is the authority that can make the final determination regarding your case.
To figure out, before applying, if you'd qualify for food stamps benefits in your state you have to consider the following:
- Your Household size: How many people you live and buy food with? Count:
- anyone you live with and buy and make food with
- children under 22 years old and,
- elderly 60+ and disabled that you make food for.
- Your Income: How much money does your household make? This includes both:
- earned income - the money you make from jobs and
- unearned income - cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, child support, etc.
Who counts as a member of the household for SNAP eligibility?
In general, anyone who lives with you and you buy food with counts a member of your household.
Your children under 22 of age count as household members, even if they buy and make their own food.
But your tenant, for example, or your adult children that are over 22 of age do not count. They are not counted in the household number for the purpose of food stamp benefits qualification.
The elderly age of 60+ and disabled people count as household members if you buy and make food for them, or you buy and make food together. If they live with you, but they buy and make food separately, they do not count as household members.
See the updated table below for this fiscal year's income limits and monthly benefits (allotments).
What is the gross and net income limit that qualifies you for food stamps?
SNAP Max Income for Food Stamps
Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020
(130% of poverty)
(100% of poverty)
|Each additional member||+$479||+$369||+$146|
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
What is Maximum Dollar Amount of Minnesota SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
If approved, the Minnesota SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and its monthly net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check the table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household.
How to Apply for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Minnesota?
Interested in applying for SNAP benefits can apply in person or print the Minnesota Department of Human Services Combined Application Form and fill it out at home. In addition to SNAP, the Combined Application can be used to apply for any of the following Minnesota cash assistance programs:
- Diversionary Work Program (DWP)
- Emergency Assistance (EA)
- General Assistance (GA)
- Group Residential Housing (GRH)
- Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
- Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA)
- Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)
When you get the application, complete the form with all required information, mail or turn it into the local DHS office where you live. You can submit the SNAP application only with your name, address, and signature – the DHS office has to accept the application with the current date. However, providing a complete application will result in most likely in a quicker eligibility determination.
A DHS county worker has to interview you to decide if you are eligible for benefits. If eligible, you will start receiving SNAP benefits from the date the office received your signed application.
Minnesota SNAP Program has a special, simplified application form for elderly SNAP applicants and beneficiaries. Individuals and couples that are age 60 and older and form a household can use SNAP Application for Seniors (DHS-5223), which is a simplified one-page form. Interviews are still required and may be arranged to be done by phone.
Minnesota residents in need of food assistance can also apply for SNAP Benefits online using ApplyMN web portal.
Minnesota SNAP (Food Stamps) Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
Department of Human Services office worker has to interview you and verify the provided information before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP benefits. Minnesota DHS lists examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:
- Valid I.D. showing the name of the applicant – driver’s license, state ID, passport;
- Proof Minnesota residency – state ID, lease agreement;
- Proof of immigration status for all household members applying for benefits;
- Social security numbers for everyone in the household applying for SNAP benefits;
- Proof of all household income – pay stubs, pension, unemployment benefits and other income, tax records if self-employed;
- Housing costs – rent or the house payment receipt, mortgage, lease, etc.;
- Medical costs prescription and medical bills, etc.; and
- Child support paid for children not living with the applicant(s).
The federal law requires that all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-50 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program, get limits on receiving SNAP benefits to a maximum of 3 months in a 3-year period.
In Minnesota, all SNAP applicants are automatically registered for work when they sign the Combined Application Form. SNAP Benefits recipients who are not exempted for work registration must begin SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program participation no later than the 1st day of the month after the month SNAP eligibility is approved.
Through its employment-related services, the E&T program provides eligible participants with the opportunity to engage in independent job search, on the job training and get work experience and transition to economic independence.
SNAP benefits recipients in Minnesota can be exempted from this provision if they are under 18 or 50 years of age or older, responsible for the care of a child, or incapacitated household member, or medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment, or pregnant. More details on who is exempt from SNAP work registration and employment and training programs can be found by calling: 1-888-711-1151.
Applicants waiting for SNAP benefits approval in Minnesota should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS office. Households getting SNAP (food stamps) benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the DHS office in order to assure their participation in the Minnesota SNAP.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Approved for Minnesota SNAP benefits applicants get an Electronic Benefits Card (EBT) card. The EBT card can be used as a debit card at any Minnesota food stamps approved grocery stores and farmers markets. Food assistance benefits are deposited into an EBT account of the beneficiary each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available from the 4th to the 13th of every month, based on the last digit of the client’s case #:
Case # ends in: 4 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
Case # ends in: 5 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
Case # ends in: 6 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
Case # ends in: 7 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
Case # ends in: 8 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
Case # ends in: 9 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
Case # ends in: 0 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
Case # ends in: 1 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
Case # ends in: 2 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
Case # ends in: 3 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Minnesota EBT Customer Service: 1-888-997-2227
How and Where to Use the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Minnesota SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Minnesota SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Minnesota EBT cards. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Minnesota grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Check this list of Minnesota food stamp stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP-eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.
I Need SNAP Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Assistance Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources, or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farmworker. Call 1-888-711-1151 for more information on the Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Minnesota Food Assistance Program
Find more about Minnesota Food Assistance Program
Search for Food Assistance by County and Town
Food Banks in Minnesota
Minnesota food banks play an important role in the overall Minnesota food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State of Minnesota.
Their main objective is to collect food from various sources like wholesale organizations, grocery stores, and farms who have food in excess and are willing to donate.
Food banks then, sort, store, and distribute donated food to local soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries.
The Food Bank Association of Minnesota is such a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger in Minnesota.
Minnesota Food Banks
Food Pantries in Minnesota
Food pantries offer food directly to people that need it and who have the means to cook it. They usually receive food from local food banks and in turn distribute it to low-income individuals and households at no cost.
Food pantries are typically located in facilities where received food can be stored and handled in a safe and sanitary manner.
Each food pantry serves a designated local area and most of them require prior registration and approval before food can be distributed to a particular individual or a family.
Soup Kitchens in Minnesota
Soup kitchens serve cooked meals on-site to needy people at no cost. Like food pantries, they normally receive their food from local food banks.
Soup kitchens take care mostly of homeless people and people who do not have the means to cook for themselves.
They require storage, cleaning, and cooking equipment as they have to do food preparation, serving, and cleaning after the meals.
Food pantries are typically located in facilities where received food can be stored and handled in a safe and sanitary manner.
Each food pantry serves a designated local area and most of them require prior registration and approval before food can be served to a particular individual or a family.
WIC Program in Minnesota
Minnesota Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Minnesota pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
Minnesota Women, Infants, and Children Program
School Meals in Minnesota
School meals in Minnesota are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The Minnesota school meals programs make nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals available to school children each school day in the year.
School meals nutritional standards are based on the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Government and teachers have reported that students perform better in class if they get regular meals.
Children getting school breakfast also had significantly reduced absence and tardiness rates, according to a Tufts University study.
Minnesota School Lunch Program | Minnesota School Breakfast Program
Special Milk Program in Minnesota
Minnesota Special Milk Program offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps. Any child in a school or institution that participates in the Special Milk Program can get milk.
Schools may elect to offer free milk to low-income children. In order to qualify for Minnesota Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Minnesota.
Minnesota Special Milk Program
Summer Food Program in Minnesota
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Minnesota food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Minnesota children get nutritious meals in the summertime.
The Summer Food Service Program is a federal program that provides grants to local sponsors who want to combine a food service with a summer activity program.
The funding provided by SFSP ensures that Minnesota children in low-income areas continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast.
Minnesota Summer Food Service Program
Senior Nutrition in Minnesota
Minnesota Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors with special checks to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets. To qualify for Minnesota senior nutrition special checks, the applicants must be 60 years of age or older and their gross household income must not exceed certain limits.
An application must be completed for each person in the household that wants to apply for the SFMNP benefits. Once approved, each beneficiary must reapply every year to continue participating in the Minnesota Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Minnesota Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA