Virginia Food Assistance
Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of Virginia, there are many sources for help with food. The Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are all helping residents in need to cope with hunger and food insecurity.
ON THIS PAGE
Learn more about
SNAP benefits a.k.a. Food Stamps.
Who is eligible for SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) in Virginia?
How to apply for Virginia Food Assistance?
How does Virginia Department of Social Services 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 Virginia
Virginia 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 Virginia, the SNAP is administered by Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides federal grants and oversees the operation of Virginia SNAP. The Federal Government pays 100% of Virginia SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Virginia SNAP administrative cost.
According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, “SNAP can be used like cash to buy eligible food items from authorized retailers. Authorized retailers will display either the Quest logo or a picture of a Virginia EBT card.”
Approx. of the total Virginia population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Virginia
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Virginia
Who is Eligible for Virginia SNAP Benefits?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Virginia 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.
Virginia SNAP is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
For the purpose of the SNAP, certain people must be included in one household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.
Anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Virginia SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- State of Virginia Resident – U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible 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;
- Resource Test – have countable household assets limited to $2,250 or less ($3,250 or less for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age or older);
- 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 Virginia food stamp income limits per household size below.
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Virginia SNAP benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting Virginia food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire.
This is pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local Virginia DSS office.
The Department of Social Services is the agency in Virginia that can make the final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.
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 Virginia SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
If approved, the Virginia 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 Virginia?
To apply for SNAP benefits in Virginia download and print the Application for Benefits form offered by the Virginia Department of Social Services.
In addition to SNAP benefits, the same application form can be used to apply for:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- TANF Emergency Assistance
- General Relief – Unattached Child
- Auxiliary Grants
- Refugee Cash Assistance
More than one assistance program in an application is a common practice by a lot of the States since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of cash and other assistance and services.
Applicants for SNAP in the State of Virginia have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The SNAP application may be submitted to any local Virginia DSS office.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the DSS office to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request.
If you are eligible, your SNAP Benefits will start from the date the DSS receives your application. However, if you provide more information, it will help DSS determine your eligibility more quickly.
The application process includes a SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DSS office will contact you to set up an interview and verify the information on your application. If you are elderly, disabled individual, or unable to go to the office due to a hardship, call the DSS to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.
At the interview, you will meet with a DSS worker who will go over the information on your application and verify the required supporting documentation and proofs. You will also receive information from the worker or other staff about job requirements/opportunities and your responsibilities.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.
The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If Virginia DSS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.
Virginia SNAP applicants also have the option to apply for SNAP benefits online using CommonHelp – the Virginia State Online Application that enables users to apply for SNAP and other State programs and services.
Virginia SNAP Food Stamps Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
Department of Social Services office worker has to interview you and verify the provided information before determining if your household is eligible for SNAP benefits. Virginia DSS lists examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide for verification.
- Identity, Residence:
- Driver’s license,
- Alien registration card,
- Voter’s registration card,
- Work or school ID,
- Library card,
- Birth certificates,
- Social Security Numbers for everyone for whom you are requesting assistance.
- Pay stubs or pay envelopes for this month and last month for everyone working;
- Records of tips, bonuses, or commissions;
- Divorce decrees or support orders;
- Award letters or notices.
- Lease or mortgage agreement, rent receipts;
- Utility and phone bills;
- Bills for the care of children, or elderly or disabled adults;
- Bills for medical expenses;
- Child support obligations paid by a member of the household.
- Most recent statements for bank accounts such as checking and savings accounts;
- Proof of stocks and bonds;
- Information about burial trusts, burial arrangements, and burial plots;
- Registration or title for all motor vehicles;
- Medical insurance policies or medical cards;
- Life insurance policies that may be cashed.
The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-50 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.
As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the work requirement is to help the food stamp recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
In Virginia, if you are able to work and getting SNAP benefits, you can register for E&T for food stamps recipients – SNAPET. Although it is a voluntary E&T program, SNAP participants who are not exempt from work registration and who have their benefits time-limited have an opportunity to extend their SNAP benefits by choosing to participate in the SNAPET program, where offered.
Virginia SNAPET provides opportunities for job search and job training so that SNAP recipients can find well-paid jobs and no longer be dependent on food stamps.
The program is open to individuals who are not receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Virginia SNAPET is designed for single adults living alone.
SNAP recipients are referred to the SNAPET program at the time of food stamp application when they reapply for SNAP benefits, and every 12 months thereafter unless a change occurs that affects exemption status.
SNAPET participants can do a job search, job readiness training, and get unpaid work experience. The program offers supportive services that may include child daycare, transportation, and medical and dental services.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?
Approved for Virginia SNAP benefits applicants get an Electronic Benefits Card (EBT) card. The EBT card can be used as a debit card at any Virginia 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 1st to the 9th of every month, based on the last digits of the client’s case number:
FS case number ends in: 0-3 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
FS case number ends in: 4-5 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
FS case number ends in: 6-7 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
FS case number ends in: 8-9 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Virginia EBT Customer Service: 866-281-2448
How and Where to Use the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Virginia SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Virginia SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Virginia EBT Cards. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Virginia grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
Check this list of Virginia SNAP participating 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 1-800-552-3431 for more information on Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Virginia Food Assistance Program
Find more about Virginia Food Assistance Program
Search for Food Assistance by County and Town
Food Banks in Virginia
Virginia food banks play an important role in the overall Virginia food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State of Virginia.
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 Banks of Virginia are such non-profit organizations that work to alleviate hunger in Virginia.
Virginia Food Banks
Food Pantries in Virginia
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 Virginia
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.
WIC Program in Virginia
Virginia Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Virginia pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
School Meals in Virginia
School meals in Virginia are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The Virginia 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.
Special Milk Program in Virginia
Virginia 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 Virginia Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Virginia.
Summer Food Program in Virginia
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Virginia food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Virginia 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 Virginia 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.
Senior Nutrition in Virginia
Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA