Tennessee

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment

 

QUICK INFO BOX

  • Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 866-311-4287
  • Tennessee Families First  – A workforce development and employment program that helps qualifying participants reach their goal by providing transportation, child care assistance, education, job training, employment activities, and other support servicesCall: 866-311-4287
  • Tennessee Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: 800-342-8359
  • Tennessee TennCare  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Tennessee residents, Call: 800-342-3145
  • Tennessee CoverKids Program – Offers free health coverage for children and pregnant women who do not have insurance and who make too much to qualify for Tenncare, Call: 866-620-8864
  • Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 800-342-5942
  • Tennessee School Nutrition Program  Provides nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions and administers the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the stateCall: 615-741-5158
  • Tennessee Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 615-741-4849
  • Tennessee Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Designed to assist low income households, primarily those who pay a high proportion of household income on home energy, in meeting their immediate energy needs, Call: 615-815-2200
  • Tennessee Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Assists low-income households in reducing their fuel costs while contributing to national energy conservation through increased energy efficiency and consumer education, Call: 615-815-2200
  • Tennessee Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  – Designed to aid individuals known to be at risk of malnutrition due to low income and poor health conditions, Call: 615-741-3111
  • Tennessee Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with benefits to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets, Call: 615-741-3111
  • Tennessee Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Tennessee Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Tennessee – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Tennessee homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Tennessee homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.

 

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Tennessee

 

Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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 the 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 Tennessee. Learn 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.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has many rules and they can vary from state to state and year to year. Under the SNAP federal guidelines each State operates its own version of the food assistance program.

In Tennessee, the SNAP is known as Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) and is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of Tennessee SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Tennessee SNAP administrative cost.

According to Tennessee Department of Human Services “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families.”

 

Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Tennessee?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Tennessee, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

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.

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 eligible, low‐income local population.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance 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.

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.

In Tennessee anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Tennessee SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:

  • Tennessee 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 who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Limited Resources – households must 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 Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both standard gross (130% of federal poverty level – FPL) and net income (100% of FPL) limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross monthly income eligibility standards for households where elderly, disabled are a separate household is 165% of FPL – see the table below. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other listed income sources.

See the table for Maximum Monthly Income allowable for SNAP benefits eligibility in State of Tennessee as per household size:

Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income Limits
(165% of poverty)
Gross Monthly Income Limits
(130% of poverty)
Net Monthly Income Limits
(100% of poverty)
1$1,619$1,276$981
2$2,191$1,726$1,328
3$2,763$2,177$1,675
4$3,335$2,628$2,021
5$3,907$3,078$2,368
6$4,479$3,529$2,715
7$5,051$3,980$3,061
8$5,623$4,430$3,408
Each additional member+$572+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

 

Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Tennessee SNAP benefits (Food Stamps).

The screening allows interested in getting Tennessee 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 a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local Tennessee DHS office.

The Department of Human Services is the agency in Tennessee that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.

 

What are Maximum Tennessee SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?

If approved, the Tennessee SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
1$194
2$357
3$511
4$649
5$771
6$925
7$1,022
8$1,169
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments

 

How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Tennessee?

To apply for SNAP benefits in Tennessee download and print the “Family Assistance Application” form offered by Tennessee Department of Human Services website.

Applicants for SNAP in State of Tennessee can file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The SNAP application may be submitted to any Tennessee local DHS Office.

If you are to file a paper form – just fill out all required information on the SNAP Application and mail or turn it in any local DHS 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 DHS 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 DHS receives your application. However, if you provide more information, it will help DHS determine your eligibility more quickly.

The application process includes an SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DHS 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 DHS to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.

At the interview, you will meet with a DHS caseworker 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 Tennessee DHS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.

Tennessee SNAP applicants also have the option to apply for SNAP benefits online using the Tennessee DHS Online Application System that enables users to apply and manage their benefits online.

 

Tennessee SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

The DHS has to verify provided information and interview you before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP Benefits.

Here is a DHS list of what needs to be verified when a household applies for SNAP benefits:

  • Identity
  • Residency
  • Household Size
  • Alien Status
  • Social Security Number
  • Income
  • Liquid Resources
  • Dependent Care Expenses
  • Medical Expenses
  • Shelter Costs
  • Actual Utility Costs
  • Entitlement to the Utility Standard
  • Questionable Information
  • Loans

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you will be given time to provide the required proof.

Applicants for SNAP benefits in Tennessee should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS office. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time in order to assure their participation in the Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods when total countable income rises above 130% of the poverty level or when work hours change for able‐bodied adults without dependents.

SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-49 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. Tennessee SNAP recipients may choose to participate in the Employment and Training Program if eligible.

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.

Call 1-866-311-4287 to find more about the Tennessee E&T Program for SNAP recipients.

 

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

Tennessee SNAP provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Tennessee SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through a Tennessee Benefit Security Card, which is issued to anyone approved for SNAP benefits.  The Tennessee SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.

Benefits are made available based on the last two digits of the head of household’s Social Security Number (SSN). If the last 2 digits of SSN are:

00-04 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
05-09 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
10-14 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
15-19 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
20-24 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
25-29 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
30-34 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
35-39 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
40-44 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
45-49 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
50-54 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
55-59 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
60-64 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
65-69 = benefits available on the 14th of the month
70-74 = benefits available on the 15th of the month
75-79 = benefits available on the 16th of the month
80-84 = benefits available on the 17th of the month
85-89 = benefits available on the 18th of the month
90-94 = benefits available on the 19th of the month
95-99 = benefits available on the 20th of the month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Tennessee EBT Customer Service: 1-888-997-9444

 

How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?

When approved, Tennessee SNAP beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards – Tennessee Benefit Security Cards. Tennessee EBT cardholders may use their Benefit Security Cards in authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stores in any of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Check this list of Tennessee 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 Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp 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 farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-866-311-4287 for more information on Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.