Hawaii Food Assistance

Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition

In the State of Hawaii, there are various sources that can provide food assistance to local residents. Hawaii Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are all helping Hawaii residents in need to cope with hunger and food insecurity.


Learn more about

SNAP benefits a.k.a. Food Stamps in Hawaii

Who is eligible for SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) in Hawaii?

How to apply for Hawaii Food Assistance?

How does the 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 Stamps (SNAP Benefits) in Hawaii

Hawaii 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. More about SNAP.

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 Hawaii, the SNAP is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and is known as Hawaii SNAP Benefits. The Hawaii Department of Human Services is responsible for establishing the applicant’s eligibility and the monthly food stamp allotments.  The federal government grant pays 100% of Hawaii Food Stamp Benefits while the administrative cost of operating the Hawaii Food Stamp program is shared between the US Federal Government and the State of Hawaii.

According to the Hawaii Department of Human Services, the SNAP program provides crucial food and nutritional support to qualifying low income and needy Hawaiian households, and those making a transition from welfare to self-sufficiency. The government grants apportioned for food stamps to provide real help to low-income Hawaiian households allowing them to buy the food they need for good nutrition and health.


Approx. of the total Hawaii population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018

Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Hawaii

Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Hawaii

Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits in Hawaii?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Hawaii, 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, Hawaii can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local population.

Hawaii SNAP 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 SNAP Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Hawaii Resident – must be U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member must work or participate in an employment and training program, registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on household size and composition. Under the general SNAP rules, 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, 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 a standard deduction from earned income. Local State Benefits Office can help with the current list of all allowable deductions.
  • Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) – Most Hawaii households may be automatically or so-called broad-based categorically eligible for SNAP benefits 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 SNAP benefits 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. No asset test is required, and the gross income limit for households without an elderly or disabled member is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Call 1-808-643-1643 to learn more about Hawaii SNAP eligibility rules.

Hawaii SNAP income standard limits per household size

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards


Hawaii SNAP Benefits Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Hawaii 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 local Department of Human Services office. There are other federal and state-specific requirements that must be met for Food Stamp Benefits applicants in different situations.

What are the Dollar Amounts of Hawaii SNAP Benefits?

If approved, the SNAP (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 food assistance dollar amounts are called allotments.

How to Apply for SNAP Benefits in Hawaii?

To get the standard Hawaii SNAP application, contact your local DHS benefits office or print it form the DHS website.

Fill out all the required information, sign it and turn the application into the local DHS benefits office where you live.

The DHS Office must accept all applications on the date of delivery as long as they have a name, address, and signature. All required information can be provided later at the interview.

An official has to process your application and to interview you in order to decide if you are eligible for food stamp benefits.

The date your application is received by the DHS local office is the date from which your eligibility for SNAP benefits will be determined.

If eligible, you will start receiving Food Stamp Benefits from the date the office received your signed application.

SNAP Application Approval, Verification of Information, Rules

If you submitted an application for SNAP Benefits and have scheduled an interview you must bring application supporting documents and proofs. Basic requirements are proof of who you are, where you live and how much is the gross and net income of the household per month. Here are examples of what may be needed.

  • Identification (Driver’s License, State ID card, passport);
  • Where you live (a rental agreement, a current bill with your address listed);
  • Social Security Numbers (see note below about certain non-citizens);
  • Earned income of everyone in your household for the past 30 days (recent pay stubs, a work statement from an employer). If self-employed, income and expense or tax records;
  • Unearned income (Unemployment benefits, SSI, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, school grants or loans, rental income, etc.);
  • Medical expenses for anyone in your household who is elderly (60 and older) or disabled;
  • Child and adult care costs due to someone working, looking for work, attending training or school, or participating in a required work activity;
  • Child support paid by a person in your household;
  • Proof of lawful immigration status ONLY for non-citizens applying for benefits (an Alien Registration Card, visa).

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. Contact your local DHS Office.

The Food Assistance program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries. The federal rules state that food stamp beneficiaries between 18 and 59 who do not have any dependent children can get SNAP benefits only for 3 months in a 36-month period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program other than a job search.

In addition, federal rules require that in order to get Food Stamps Benefits most able-bodied people between 16-59 years old cannot quite their jobs.

Unemployed must register for work, accept employment offers, and participate in Employment and Training Programs if offered by the State.

There are other federal and state-specific requirements that must be met for Food Stamp Benefits applicants in different situations.

Applicants waiting for SNAP Benefits approval in Hawaii should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS 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 SNAP.

Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?

Hawaii SNAP provides the Food Stamp Benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Hawaii SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Hawaii Food First EBT Card.

Benefits are made available on the 3rd and the 5th of every month, based on the first letter of the client’s last name:
First Letter of the Last Name is: A – I = benefits available on the 3rd
First Letter of the Last Name is: J – Z = benefits available on the 5th
*Direct deposit cash benefits are made available on the first day of every month.

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Card call Hawaii EBT Customer Service: 1-888-328-4292

How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?

SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores in the State of Hawaii.

With their EBT Card, food stamp recipients can buy any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Allowed are also seeds and plants to grow food for the family’s consumption.

Notable exceptions are tobacco, alcohol, food supplements, meals from restaurants, and hot food for immediate consumption.

I Need Food Assistance 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.

Use the following phone number to get more information on any SNAP benefit questions in the State of Hawaii: 808-643-1643

Hawaii Food Assistance Benefits

Find more on what kind of food you can buy using your Hawaii Food Assistance benefits…

Food Assistance Program | Eligibility | Apply | Approval | Benefits

Food Banks in Hawaii

Hawaii food banks play an important role in the overall Hawaii 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 Hawaii is such a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger in Hawaii.

Hawaii Food Banks

Hawaii Food Banks

Food Pantries in Hawaii

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.

Hawaii Food Pantries

Soup Kitchens in Hawaii

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.

Hawaii Soup Kitchens

WIC Program in Hawaii

Hawaii Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Hawaii pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.

Hawaii Women, Infants, and Children Program


School Meals in Hawaii

School meals in Hawaii are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

The Hawaii 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.

Hawaii School Lunch Program | Hawaii School Breakfast Program


Special Milk Program in Hawaii

Hawaii 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 Hawaii Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Hawaii.

Hawaii Special Milk Program


Summer Food Program in Hawaii

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Hawaii food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Hawaii 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 Hawaii 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.

Hawaii Summer Food Service Program


Senior Nutrition in Hawaii

Hawaii 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.

Hawaii Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA