Vermont Food Assistance
Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of Vermont, there are many sources for help with food. The Vermont Supplemental Nutrition Assistance 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 Vermont?
How to apply for Vermont Food Assistance?
How does Vermont Department for Children and Families 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 Vermont
Vermont Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – 3SquaresVT
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 Vermont. SNAP also provides education about nutrition to help recipients choose foods that enhance their health and well being.
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. Learn more about SNAP.
In Vermont, the SNAP is known as 3SquaresVT and is administered by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) – Economic Services Division (ESD). The Federal Government oversees the State operation and pays 100% of Vermont 3SquaresVT with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Vermont 3SquaresVT administrative cost.
The main purpose of the SNAP federal program is to help end hunger and improve the nutrition and health of low-income households. The SNAP federal funding provides monthly benefits to low-income Vermont households that help them buy the food needed for a nutritionally adequate diet.
And according to Vermont Department for Children and Families: “3SquaresVT is a federal USDA program (formerly food stamps) that can help stretch your food budget so you can put three healthy meals on your table every day.”
Approx. of the total Vermont population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in Vermont
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in Vermont
Who is Eligible for 3SquaresVT (Food Stamps) in Vermont?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Vermont, 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 SNAP food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local population.
Vermont 3SquaresVT 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 Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Vermont 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;
- Resource Limit – No asset limit except for households with income greater than 185% where there is a person over age 60 or a disabled person;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition and are based on the current federal poverty levels (FPL). Households with no elderly (60 years of age or older) or disabled individuals must have gross income less than 185% FPL and net household income less than 100% FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, and others. 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.
See the table with Vermont 3SquaresVT program income limits per household size below.
Vermont residents may be automatically or so-called categorically eligible for 3SquaresVT if they already participate in other means-tested assistance programs. Households with children that receive the Vermont Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Reach Up, or Post- Secondary Education benefits do not have to meet the gross income limit and asset limit. Households with a member receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also are eligible to enroll and have no gross income limit or asset test.
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting Vermont 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 piece of pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application to the Vermont DCF – Economic Services Division.
The Department for Children and Families is the agency in Vermont that can make a final determination regarding your 3SquaresVT application in this State and grant you 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 Dollar Amounts of Vermont 3SquaresVT Benefits?
If the applicant is approved, the Vermont 3SquaresVT 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 the table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household.
How to Apply for 3SquaresVT (Food Stamp) Assistance in Vermont?
To apply for 3SquaresVT benefits in Vermont download and print Application for Food, Fuel, and Financial Assistance form offered by the Department for Children and Families.
The same application form can be used to apply for:
- Reach Up – Services and financial assistance to help families with children become more independent.
- Home Heating – Financial assistance that helps pay part of your home heating costs if you pay for heat directly, have heat included in your rent, or rent a room in someone else’s home.
- Essential Person – Assistance program for people who are blind, have a disability or are 65 or older, that helps meet expenses for someone who lives with and provides care for them so they can live at home.
More than one assistance program in an application is a common practice by a lot of the States since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of other assistance and services.
Applicants for 3SquaresVT in the State of Vermont have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The 3SquaresVT application may be submitted to any district Economic Services Division office.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the 3SquaresVT application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the ESD office to accept it.
All required information and its verification can be provided later or upon request. However, if you provide more complete information, it will help ESD determine your eligibility more quickly.
The application process includes a 3SquaresVT eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the ESD office will contact you for an interview and verify the information on your application.
In most cases, the 3SquaresVT interview will be done by phone. A 3SquaresVT Benefits Specialist will go over the information on your application and verify the required supporting documentation and proofs. You will also receive information about work requirements and your responsibilities while in the 3SquaresVT program.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefits and for how long your household is eligible for. You will get also be advised on when a review of your case is due, along with reporting requirements expected from your household.
The 3SquaresVT benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If Vermont DCF finds you eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received and accepted by the agency.
Vermont 3SquaresVT applicants also have the option to apply for benefits online using myBenefits.vt.gov website. It is the Vermont State Online Application that enables users to apply for Vermont Assistance Programs, Benefits, and Services.
Vermont 3SquaresVT Verification of Information, Rules, Approval
The DCF Office has to interview you and verify the provided information before determining if the household is eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits. Vermont Department for Children and Families lists examples of information that may be needed as proof:
- Identification (licenses, government identification, birth certificates) and social security numbers for all members applying for assistance.
- All gross wages received by your family in the 30 days before your application. Pay stubs or written statements from employers.
- If self-employed, most recent federal income tax return including all W2s, forms, and schedules or record books showing income and expenses for the last 12 months or since the business started whichever is less.
- A written statement from any person paying you for room, room, and meals, or only meals.
- The income you receive from providing dependent care to children or adults in your home (self-employment records or statements from the person paying).
- Gross unearned income such as social security, SSI, veteran’s benefits, unemployment or worker’s compensation, pensions, dividends, or child support (award letter, divorce/separation papers or statement from the person paying support, 1099).
- Amount of room only, meals only, or room and meals that you pay.
- Dependent care expenses you paid in the last calendar month.
- Alimony or child support payments you made to anyone outside your household (court order, and canceled checks or statements from the person receiving payment).
- Savings, checking, credit union account numbers or statements of all accounts, including children’s accounts, IRAs and profit-sharing accounts.
- Rent receipt, lot rent receipt, rent lease agreement.
- Proof of mortgage payment such as canceled check, payment book or payment schedule.
- Property tax bill and home insurance premium including the breakdown between property, contents, liability.
This is not a complete list and depending on the case the DCF worker may request additional types of proof and application supporting documents.
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 for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 – if they are not exempt.
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 through 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.
The main goal of the work requirement is to help the SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
If you are able to work but currently not working, you may have to register at your local Vermont Department of Labor Office to become eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits.
Call 1-800-479-6151 if you want to find more about the Vermont Employment and Training Program offered to 3SquaresVT recipients.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the 3SquaresVT Benefits?
The Vermont 3SquaresVT Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of Vermont 3SquaresVT are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Vermont Express Card.
Vermont 3SquaresVT Benefits are made available on the first of every month.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Vermont Express EBT Card call Vermont EBT Customer Service: 1-800-914-8605
How and Where to Use the 3SquaresVT Benefits?
Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores.
Households and individuals get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards – the Vermont Express Card, that enable them to use their 3SquaresVT benefits at any grocery store and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Check this list of Vermont Food Stamp participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of 3SquaresVT 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 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 1-800-479-6151 for more information on Vermont 3SquaresVT Program.
Vermont Food Assistance Program
Find more about Vermont Food Assistance Program
Search for Food Assistance by County and Town
Food Banks in Vermont
Vermont food banks play an important role in the overall Vermont food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State of Vermont.
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 Banks of Vermont are such non-profit organizations that work to alleviate hunger in Vermont.
Vermont Food Banks
Food Pantries in Vermont
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 Vermont
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 Vermont
Vermont Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to Vermont pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
School Meals in Vermont
School meals in Vermont are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The Vermont 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 Vermont
Vermont 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 Vermont Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of Vermont.
Summer Food Program in Vermont
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another Vermont food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income Vermont 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 Vermont 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 Vermont
Vermont 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 Vermont 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 Vermont Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA