Idaho Food Assistance

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

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


Learn more about

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

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

How to apply for Idaho Food Assistance?

How does the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare 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 Program (SNAP Benefits) in Idaho

Idaho 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, including Idaho.

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 Idaho, the SNAP is administered by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and is called the Idaho Food Stamp Program. The Federal Government oversees the State operation of the SNAP. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare “The Idaho Food Stamp Program helps low-income families buy the food they need in order to stay healthy.”


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

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

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

Who is Eligible for Idaho Food Stamp Assistance?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Idaho, like in other States, are based on a limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements. 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 implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local populations.

Idaho Food Stamp Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

In general, to qualify for Idaho Food Stamp Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Idaho Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member, age 18-50, must work or participate in an employment and training program, registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Resource Limit – Countable liquid household assets must be under $5,000. Resources include, but are not limited to, cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real property, household vehicles, and recreational vehicles. Household vehicles might be excluded depending on their usage and other factors.
  • Income Limits – 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 other sources. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. The resulting numbers must fall below the net income dollar amounts listed in the table below for your household to get food assistance benefits. This dollar amount depends on the number of people in your household.

Some Idaho residents may be automatically or so-called categorically eligible for Food Stamps if they already participate in other means-tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for Food Stamps categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and asset eligibility rules. Check the specifics with your local Division of Welfare office or call 1-877-456-1233.

Idaho Food Stamps – Quick Eligibility Check

USDA Food and Nutrition Service offer this Pre-Screening Tool you can use to find out if you may be eligible to get Idaho SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps). Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your Idaho local Department of Welfare office. Even you are unsure whether you qualify you should still apply.

Regardless of the results of the tool, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare encourages applicants to visit one of their offices. A quick conversation with one of their self-reliance specialists will help applicants find out whether they may be eligible for Idaho 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 

Gross Monthly
Income Limits
(130% of poverty)
Net Monthly
Income Limits
(100% of poverty)
Max Food
Benefit Monthly
Each additional member+$479+$369+$146

 Source:  USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

What are the Dollar Amounts of Idaho SNAP Benefits?

If approved, the Idaho 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 size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts. The food stamp dollar amounts are called allotments. See the table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household.

How to Apply for Food Stamps in Idaho?

Idaho residents interested in getting food stamps can download and print the Food Stamp application in English or Spanish from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare forms page.

All looking for help with food can apply for Idaho Food Stamp Benefits by visiting one of the local Division of Welfare Offices.

If you do not have all the information complete as much as you can including your name, social security number, what you are applying for, and sign it. The Food Assistance Office has to accept the application with the current date. You can provide the rest of the information later at the interview.

The applicant needs to fill out all the required information on the application and provide supporting documents. Before a decision is made an Idaho Division of Welfare worker has to verify all the paperwork and schedule an interview with the applicant. If the applicant is eligible, they will receive within 30 days (usually in Idaho the response is faster) a notice stating how much of a benefit they qualify for when to expect their benefits, and for how long is the applicant eligible for getting food stamps.

Idaho Food Stamps Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare needs to verify submitted information before determining if the household is eligible for Food Stamp Benefits.

The Department of Health and Welfare lists examples of documents and information that may be needed when you apply or need to complete a re-evaluation interview.

Proof of Identity:

  • Driver’s License
  • ID Card
  • Birth Certificate

Proof of Immigration Status of Non-Citizens:

  • Resident Alien Card
  • Copy of a residency document issued by the Department of Homeland Security

Proof of Income:

  • Work Verification form signed by the employer
  • Paycheck Stubs – for the last 30 days
  • Completed Self-Employment Verification Form
  • Copy of most recent tax forms (include all schedule forms if self-employed)
  • Benefits Letters from SSI or VA
  • Unemployment Insurance Check Stubs
  • Pension Information
  • Workers Compensation


  • Bank Statements for the last 30 days
  • Copy of statements to prove the amount due on any vehicle
  • Statements that show the current value of stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc.

Child Support Expenses:

  • Copy of court documents with required pay amount
  • Paycheck stubs for paid child support
  • A signed statement from the person receiving the child support payments

Child Care Expenses:

  • Statement from the child care provider
  • Dependent Care Charges form completed by the child care provider

This is not a complete list and depending on the case the Food Assistance Worker may request additional types of proof and application supporting documents.

The Food Stamp Program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries.

The law limits the Food Stamp 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.

To comply with the Food Stamp work requirement rule, Idaho State offers the Job Search and Assistance Program (JSAP), which provides Food Stamp recipients with employment tools that they can use to become self-reliant. JSAP can help in job search and referrals, unpaid work-experience opportunities, job skills training, and education.

It is a mandatory employment and training program for all able-bodied adults in households getting Idaho Food Stamp benefits. As per the federal requirement all SNAP participants who are identified as “able-bodied adults without dependents” must complete 20 hours each week in order to receive more than three months of food assistance in a 36-month.

Food Stamp recipients in Idaho can be exempted from work requirement provision if they are:

  • Under 18 or 60 years of age or older;
  • Responsible for the care of a child or incapacitated household member;
  • Medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment or pregnant;
  • Student at least half-time in a recognized school, training program, or institution of higher education;
  • Pregnant Women;
  • Participating in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

Households getting food stamps benefits must report any changes of their household situation and complete re-evaluation in a 6-months period in order to assure their participation in the Food Stamp Program.

Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food Assistance Benefits?

Idaho Food Stamp Program provides the SNAP benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system.

The monetary benefits of the Idaho Food Stamps are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Idaho Quest Card.

The Food Assistance Benefits are deposited into the recipients’ accounts on the 1st day of the month.

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Idaho EBT Customer Service: 1-888-432-4328

How and Where to Use Food Stamp Benefits?

Idaho Food Stamp benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores displaying the Quest mark.

Households and individuals get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to use their food assistance benefits at any grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Food Assistance Benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at  Food Stamps authorized stores in the State of Idaho.

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 Food 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. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-877-456-1233 for more information on the Idaho Food Stamp Program.

Idaho Food Assistance Benefits

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

Food Assistance Program | Eligibility | Apply | Approval | Benefits

Food Banks in Idaho

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

Idaho Food Banks

Idaho Food Banks

Food Pantries in Idaho

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.

Idaho Food Pantries

Soup Kitchens in Idaho

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.

Idaho Soup Kitchens

WIC Program in Idaho

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

Idaho Women, Infants, and Children Program


School Meals in Idaho

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

The Idaho 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.

Idaho School Lunch Program | Idaho School Breakfast Program


Special Milk Program in Idaho

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

Idaho Special Milk Program


Summer Food Program in Idaho

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

Idaho Summer Food Service Program

Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA