Maryland Food Assistance
Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of Maryland, there are many sources for help with food. The Maryland 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 Maryland?
How to apply for Maryland Food Assistance?
How does Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) 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 Maryland
Maryland Food Supplement 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 Maryland, the SNAP is called The Food Supplement Program and is administered by the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR). The Federal Government pays 100% of Maryland Food Stamp benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Maryland SNAP administrative cost
According to Maryland DHR the Food Supplement Program helps low-income households buy the food they need for good health and everyone has the right to apply for it.
Approx. of the total Maryland population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Maryland
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Maryland
Who is Eligible for Food Supplement Benefits in Maryland?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Maryland, 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, Maryland DHR can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local populations.
Maryland Food Supplement 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.
Maryland residents in need of food assistance must file an application, provide supporting documents if requested, pass an eligibility interview, and get approved before start getting Food Supplement Benefits.
In general, to qualify for Food Supplement Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- Maryland Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, all able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 years of age must register for work, accept an offer of suitable work, and take part in an employment and training program if referred to one by the State local department of social services;
- 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 (60 years of age or older) 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. Check the table with Food Supplement Program income limits per household size below.
Some Maryland residents may be automatically or so-called categorically eligible for Food Supplement 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 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. Call 1-800-332-6347 to find more on Food Supplement Program eligibility.
Food Supplement Benefits Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get the Maryland Food Supplement Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Maryland food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Although you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your Maryland local DHR Office. Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for Food Supplement Benefits and you should still apply. Only a Maryland DHR 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 is the Maryland Food Supplement Benefits in Dollar Amount?
If approved, the Food Supplement (Food Stamp) Benefit amount depends on the household size and the amount of their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. See the table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household. The dollar amounts are called allotments.
How to Apply for Food Supplement Benefits (Food Stamps) in Maryland?
In Maryland, there is one statewide application for the Food Supplement Program, Temporary Cash Assistance, and Medical 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.
Maryland residents in need of food assistance benefits can file an application via the SAIL web tool, get the application online, or go in one of the local DHR offices. You may also ask for the application over the phone or by mail.
When applying for the Maryland Food Supplement Program benefits you need to fill out all required information on the application concerning the assistance you are applying for. Providing a complete application will result in 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 Maryland DHR Office. All required information can be provided later at the interview.
Before a decision is made a Maryland DHR worker has to review all submitted information and interview the applicant. If the applicant is eligible, they will receive a notice stating how much food supplement benefit and for how long is the applicant is eligible. Call Maryland DHR Customer Call Center at 1-800-332-6347 if you have questions about the Food Supplement Program and the application process.
Food Assistance Supplement (Food Stamps) Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
If you submitted an application for Food Supplement Benefits and the DHR have scheduled you for an interview, they may require you to bring certain application supporting documents and proofs. DHR lists examples of required verification:
- Verification of income, such as but not limited to pay stubs, a letter from employer or award letter.
- Child-support payments, such as a court order and canceled checks and the legal obligation to pay;
- Verification of legal immigrant status for eligible immigrants;
- Medical expenses for individuals 60 or older or disabled;
- Any information which is questionable or conflicting.
In Maryland, 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 Maryland Food Supplement Program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries regarding income limits, deductions, limits of resources and exemptions from work requirements.
All Food Supplement Program beneficiaries are required to complete eligibility reviews, usually every 6 or 12 months, in order to continue receiving food stamps benefits. The DHR Office usually mails a notice with instructions on what is required when it is time for the household to renew its Food Supplement Benefits.
Applicants waiting for Food Supplement Benefits approval in Maryland should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHR office.
Households getting Food Supplement Benefits must report any changes in 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 store and farmers’ markets in Maryland that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Benefits are made available from the 6th to the 15th of every month, based on the first letter of the recipient’s last name.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Maryland EBT Card call Maryland EBT Customer Service: 1-800-997-2222
How and Where to Use the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Maryland Food Supplement Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Maryland Food Supplement Program are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through the Maryland Independence EBT Card. The benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at any of the Maryland Food Supplement Program authorized stores.
With their Independence, 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 DHR Office for more information.
Maryland Food Assistance Program
Find more about Maryland Food Assistance Program
Search for Food Assistance by County and Town
Food Banks in Maryland
Maryland food banks play an important role in the overall Maryland food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State of Maryland.
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 Maryland is such a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger in Maryland.
Maryland Food Banks
Food Pantries in Maryland
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 Maryland
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 Maryland
Maryland Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Maryland pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
School Meals in Maryland
School meals in Maryland are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The Maryland 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 Maryland
Maryland 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 Maryland Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Maryland.
Summer Food Program in Maryland
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Maryland food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland
Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA