Florida Food Assistance
Food Stamps * SUNCAP * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of Florida, there are many sources that can help with food if needed. Florida Food 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 Florida?
How to apply for Florida Food Assistance?
How does Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) 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 Florida
The Food 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. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service is in charge of the SNAP nationally. Learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
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 Florida, the SNAP is called The Food Assistance Program and is administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Local DCF Service Centers and Community Partner Agencies across the State help the Department of Children and Families provide better access to public assistance programs and services, including the Food Assistance Program (a.k.a. the Food Stamp Program).
According to the DCF, the Food Assistance Program helps people with low-income buy food they need for good health. The program helps qualified Florida households by providing them with monthly electronic monetary benefits that can be used to buy basic foods at most markets and food stores. It is important for applicants to understand that provided Food Assistance benefits are a supplement to a family’s food budget. Households getting food stamps may need to spend some of their own cash, along with their food assistance benefits, to buy enough food for a month.
Approx. of the total Florida population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Florida
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Florida
Who is Eligible for Food Assistance Benefits in Florida?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Florida, like in other States, are based on the household resources, income, household size, and are largely determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. For example, CDSS can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local population.
Food Assistance Program is a food assistance program, primarily designed for individuals and families in need of help, with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
In general, to qualify for Food Assistance Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Florida Resident – must be U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – cooperation with Florida Department of Children and Families regarding required employment, training, community service or volunteer activities, (unless exempted, all able-bodied members of the household 18 to 50 years of age, who do not have dependent children or are not pregnant, can only get food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program);
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition, and if a household member was disqualified because of breaking the program rules. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet gross income limits (gross income less or equal to 200% of FPL – federal poverty level). Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Households with a disqualified member for breaking the Food Assistance Program rules are subject to gross income limits of 130% and net income limits of 100% of FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, etc. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. Some of the allowed deductions are utility and telephone expenses, cost of dependent care, the portion of medical expenses and child support paid. Local DCF Service Center can help with the current list of all allowable deductions. Check the table with Food Assistance Program income limits per household size below.
Some Florida residents may be automatically or so-called broad-based categorically eligible for Food Assistance if they already participate in other means-tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits including pamphlets from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by federal grants, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for Food Assistance categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and any asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States can 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 stamps applicants eligible.
You can always call 1-866-762-2237 with any question on Food Assistance Eligibility.
Food Assistance Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get Florida Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Florida food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your Florida local DCF Office. Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for Food Assistance benefits and you should still apply. Only a Florida DCF Office can determine your eligibility and grant you food stamp 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 are the Florida Food Assistance Benefits in Dollar Amount?
If approved, the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check below what are the maximum allowed food stamp monetary amounts. The dollar amounts are called allotments. See table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household.
How to Apply for Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps) in Florida?
In Florida, there is one statewide application for Food Assistance, Temporary Cash Assistance, Medicaid and Refugee Assistance benefits. Although each of these programs has its own specific eligibility rules, anyone who is interested in one or more of the listed assistance programs can apply using the same application.
Florida residents in need of food assistance benefits can apply here, get the application online, or go in one of the local DCF Service Centers. The applicant needs to fill out all required information on the application. Providing a complete application will result most likely in a quicker eligibility determination. The application must have at least name, address and signature of the applicant to be accepted by the DCF Office. All required information can be provided later at the interview.
Before a decision is made a DCF worker has to review all submitted information and decide if the applicant needs to be interviewed. If an interview is needed it is usually scheduled within 5 days of the date the application is submitted. During the interview, the DCF worker will ask questions relevant to the application and verify submitted information. If the applicant is eligible, they will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefits and for how long is the applicant eligible. Call DCF Customer Call Center at (866) 762-2237 if you have questions about the Food Assistance Benefits and the application process.
Florida Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps) Approval Process, Rules, Proofs Required
If you submitted an application for Food Assistance Benefits and the DCF have scheduled you for an interview they may require you to bring certain application supporting documents and proofs. DCF lists some examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:
- Proof of Identity (Driver’s License, State ID card);
- Proof of citizenship (Birth Certificate, Passport)
- Proof of lawful immigration status ONLY for non-citizens applying for benefits (an Alien Registration Card, visa);
- Proof of earned income of everyone in your household for the past four weeks (recent pay stubs, a work statement from an employer). If self-employed, income and expense or tax records;
- Proof of unearned income for each household member (Unemployment benefits, SSI, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, school grants or loans, rental income, etc.);
In Florida, when receiving food stamps, physically and mentally fit adults ages 16 through 59 years old must register for work, accept offers of suitable work, and take part in an employment and training programs when referred, if they are not exempted. The federal rules state that healthy adults ages 18 through 49 years old who do not have dependent children can only receive food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 36-month period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program. The Florida Food Assistance has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries regarding income limits, deductions, limits of resources and exemptions from work requirements.
All Food Assistance beneficiaries are required to complete eligibility reviews, usually every 6 or 12 months, in order to continue receiving food stamps benefits. The DCF Office usually mails a notice with instructions on what is required when it is time for the household to renew its Food Assistance Benefits.
Applicants waiting for Food Assistance Benefits approval in Florida should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DCF office.
Households getting food stamps benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the local office in order to assure their participation in the Food Assistance program.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food Assistance Benefits?
Approved for Food Assistance Benefits get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards and accounts enabling them to use the food assistance benefits at any grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Florida that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Benefits are made available from the 1st to the 15th of every month, based on the 9th and 8th digits of the Florida case number (READ BACKWARDS), dropping the 10th digit.
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 00-06 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 07-13 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 14-19 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 20-26 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 27-33 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 34- 39 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 40-46 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 47-53 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 54-59 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 60-66 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 67-73 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 74-79 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 80-86 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 87-96 = benefits available on the 14th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 94-99 = benefits available on the 15th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Florida ACCESS EBT Card call Florida EBT Customer Service: 1-888-356-3281
How and Where to Use the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Florida Food Assistance Program provides the SNAP benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Florida SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Florida ACCESS EBT Card. The SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores. Find Florida Food Stamps Stores Near You.
With their ACCESS EBT cards, households can buy almost any food for human consumption from approved markets and groceries. A notable exception are tobacco, alcohol, food supplements, meals from restaurants, and hot food for immediate consumption. For security reasons, USDA does not allow EBT cards to be used online to buy food from Internet websites.
I Need Food Stamps Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services, as per federal rules – that is 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. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. You can always contact the local DCF Office for more information.
State of Florida offers a special food assistance program called SUNCAP – for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). All SSI applicants are considered for SUNCAP, if want to apply, and are not asked to complete separate forms. Individuals may be eligible for SUNCAP if they are: 1) getting SSI, 2) at least 18-year-old, 3) not working, 4) purchasing and preparing food alone. If you are already receiving food assistance benefits in the regular Food Assistance Program, you may be automatically put in the SUNCAP Program when you become SSI eligible. If your food assistance benefits will go down because of SUNCAP, you may choose to continue receiving your food assistance benefits under the regular Food Assistance Program.
To apply for SUNCAP file for SSI at one of the Florida Social Security offices, and Social Security will decide if you are eligible for SUNCAP. If you are getting regular Food Assistance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income and want to convert to SUNCAP, contact the special SUNCAP unit at 1-866-762-2237.
Florida Food Assistance Benefits
Find more on what kind of food you can buy using your Florida Food Assistance benefits…
Food Assistance Program | Eligibility | Apply | Approval | Benefits
Food Banks in Florida
Florida food banks play an important role in the overall Florida food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State.
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 Florida is such a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger in Florida State.
Florida Food Banks
Food Pantries in Florida
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 Florida
Soup kitchens serve cooked meals on site to needy people at no cost. Like the 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 the 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 Florida
Florida Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Florida’s pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
School Meals in Florida
School meals in Florida are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The Florida 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 Florida
Florida 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 Florida Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Florida.
Summer Food Program in Florida
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Florida food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Florida children get nutritious meals in the summertime.
The SFSP 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 Florida 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 Florida
Florida 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 Florida 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 Florida Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA