Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment



  • Washington Basic Food Program  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 877-501-2233
  • Washington Aged, Blind or Disabled Cash Assistance Program Helps eligible persons with cash assistance who are aged, blind, or disabled and who need money, Call: Local agency
  • Washington Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)  – Provides cash as a temporary financial assistance for eligible families in needCall: 877-501-2233
  • Washington Federal Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: Local telephone company
  • Washington Apple Health  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Washington residents, Call: 855-923-4633
  • Washington Hospital Presumptive Eligibility (HPE) Program  – Allows participating hospitals, who are a Washington State Medicaid provider, to determine eligibility for temporary Washington Apple Health coverage, Call: 855-923-4633
  • Washington Apple Health for Kids Program – Offers health care coverage to qualifying children living in Washington State, Call: 877-543-7669
  • Washington Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 800-322-2588
  • Washington National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 360-725-6220
  • Washington Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 360-725-6220
  • Washington School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 360-725-6220
  • Washington Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 360-725-6220
  • Washington Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care, Call: 360-725-6220
  • Washington Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 425-453-1227
  • Washington Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Designed to assist low income Washington State households in meeting their immediate home energy needs, Call: 360-725-2857
  • Washington Weatherization Program  – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: 360-725-5004
  • Washington Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  – Designed toimprove the health of elderly people at least 60 years of age, by supplementing their diets with nutritious United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) foods, Call: 360-725-5640
  • Washington 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: 800-525-0127
  • Washington Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Washington Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Washington

Washington Basic Food 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 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 Washington. 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 Washington, the SNAP is known as Washington Basic Food Program (Basic Food) and is administered by the Economic Services Administration (ESA) which is part of Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of Washington SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Washington SNAP administrative cost.

According to the Washington Department of Social and Health Services “The Washington Basic Food Program (Basic Food) helps low-income individuals and families have a more nutritious diet by adding Basic Food benefits to your household’s income.”


Who is Eligible for Basic Food (Food Stamp) Benefits in Washington?

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

  • Washington 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 through 59 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Limited Resources – standard test requires households to have countable 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) – the standard resource test does not apply to categorically eligible households (inquire with DSHS about details);
  • 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 Washington 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)
Each additional member+$572+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

Some Washington residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs or getting any benefits from programs funded by federal grants. Getting any benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or getting informational guide or brochure, funded by federal grants can make the applicant for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to 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 Assistance applicants eligible.

Quick Eligibility Check

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

The screening allows interested in getting Washington 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 Washington DSHS office.

Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services is the agency in State of Washington that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.


What are Maximum Washington Basic Food (Food Stamp) Benefits?

If approved, the Washington Basic Food 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
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments


How to Apply for Basic Food Benefits in Washington?

To apply for Basic Food benefits in State of Washington download and print the Application for Cash and Food Assistance form offered by the Department of Social and Health Services.

In addition to Basic Food benefits the same application form can be used to apply for Child Care and Cash Assistance. More than one assistance program in an application is 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 cash and other assistance and services.

Once you have the Application for Cash and Food Assistance form, complete all required information and mail or submit the application in-person at a local community services 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 DSHS office to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later 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.

Applicants for Basic Food benefits in State of Washington have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The Application for Cash and Food Assistance may be submitted to any local DSHS Community Services Office (CSO) or mail it to:

CSD-Customer Service Center
PO Box 11699
Tacoma, WA 98411-6699

If you are to fax your paper Application for Cash and Food Assistance call the DSHS at: 1-877-501-2233 to confirm the FAX number which currently is listed as: 1-888-338-7410.

The Basic Food application process includes an eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DSHS office will contact you to set up an in-office or telephone interview and verify the information on your application.

At the interview, a DSHS caseworker who will determine if you qualify for benefits, and if you do, determine the amount of monthly benefits. You will also receive information about job requirements and your responsibilities when participating in Basic Food program.

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 Basic Food benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.

If Washington DSHS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.

Washington Basic Food applicants also have the option to apply for benefits online, using Washington Connection– the Washington State Online Application System that enables users to apply for Basic Food and other Washington State assistance and services.


Washington Basic Food Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

The DSHS has to verify provided information and interview you before determining if the household is eligible for Basic Food Benefits.

Here is what DSHS lists as examples of proof that you may need to present when applying for Basic Food Benefits.

  • Identity
  • Citizenship / Alien Status
  • Social Security Number
  • Earned Income
  • Other Income:
    • Unemployment benefits
    • Social Security income
    • Tribal income
    • Gaming income
    • Educational benefits (student loans, grants, work – study)
    • Supplemental Security income (SSI)
    • Child Support
    • Railroad benefits
    • Rental income
    • Retirement or pension
    • Veteran Administration (VA) or military benefits
    • Labor and Industries (L&I)
    • Trusts
    • Interests / Dividends
  • Resources
    • Cash
    • Checking accounts
    • Savings accounts
    • College funds
    • Trusts
    • IRA / 401k
    • Homes, Land or Buildings
    • CDs
    • Money market account
    • Bonds
    • Retirement fund
    • Burial funds, prepaid plans
    • Business equipment
    • Livestock
    • Life insurance
  • Dependent Care Expenses
  • Medical Expenses
  • Shelter Costs
    • Rent
    • Mortgage
    • Property Taxes
    • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Utility Bills
    • Electric/Gas
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Garbage
    • Phone

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation.

Applicants for Basic Food benefits in Washington should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DSHS office. When start Basic Food benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time in order to assure their participation in the Washington Basic Food Program.

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.

Washington Basic Food recipients may choose to participate in the Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) Program if eligible. The program provides training and education with a goal of assisting Basic Food clients to attaining a living wage career.

You can find more information about the Basic Food Employment and Training Program at: www.basicfoodet.org


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

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

Benefits are made available from the 1st to the 10th of every month, based on the last digit of the client’s case #:
FS case # ends in: 1 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
FS case # ends in: 2 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
FS case # ends in: 3 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
FS case # ends in: 4 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
FS case # ends in: 5 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
FS case # ends in: 6 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
FS case # ends in: 7 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
FS case # ends in: 8 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
FS case # ends in: 9 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
FS case # ends in: 0 = benefits available on the 10th of the month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Washington EBT Customer Service: 888-328-9271


How and Where to Use the Basic Food Benefits?

When approved, Washington Basic Food beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards – a Quest Card. Washington EBT cardholders may use their Washington EBT card 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 Washington Basic Food (SNAP) participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of Basic Food 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 Basic Food 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 1-877-501-2233 for more information on Washington Basic Food Program.


Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Washington – 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 Washington homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Washington 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.