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FOOD STAMPS: THE RIGHTS OF HOMELESS FAMILIES

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NATIONAL LAW CENTER ON HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY

FOOD STAMPS: THE RIGHTS OF HOMELESS FAMILIES
A FACT SHEET FOR ADVOCATES

THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM IS AN IMPORTANT SAFETY NET FOR MANY HUNGRY FAMILIES. YOU CAN BE AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INFORMATION FOR THE NEEDY FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT YOU SERVE.

WHAT IS THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM?
The food stamp program is a federal nutrition program which helps people with low incomes to buy food. Participants are issued either an electronic debit card (much like an ATM card) or food coupons which can be redeemed for certain types of foods at participating grocery stores.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Food stamps are given to households whose income is below the food stamp limits. It is common to work and still receive food stamps. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or fit in one of the categories of eligible immigrants, must have a social security number, and must comply with certain work requirements.

HOW DOES SOMEONE APPLY FOR FOOD STAMPS?
1. The applicant must first fill out a food stamp application at the local food stamp office. To locate the local food stamp office in your area, you can call the state food stamp hotline. The state hotline numbers are available on the USDA’s website at:
http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/contact_info/

2. The applicant will then be scheduled for an interview with a caseworker who determines eligibility. The applicant will be required to provide certain documentation. The food stamp office should give the applicant a list of things to bring to the interview at the time of he/she applies. These may include paystubs, an ID, and utility bills.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
Once the food stamp office receives the application, it has no more than 30 days to act on the application and issue food stamps if the household is eligible. Households that have income below a certain level may be eligible for emergency or “expedited” food stamps. If the household is eligible for expedited food stamps, the client must receive the food stamps within seven calendar days
(and sooner in some states). Many homeless families are eligible for expedited food stamps due to their income level; Homeless families should be encouraged to ask for expedited food stamps.

DOES A FOOD STAMP APPLICANT NEED A PERMANENT ADDRESS TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
NO! Homeless families are eligible to receive food stamps even though they live in a shelter, lack a mailing address, or live on the street.

DOES A FOOD STAMP APPLICANT NEED A PLACE TO COOK OR STORE FOOD TO RECEIVE FOOD
STAMPS?
NO! Homeless families are eligible for food stamps even though they may lack a place to cook or store
food.

DOES AN APPLICANT NEED A PHOTO ID TO RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS?
NO! The applicant must provide proof of identity. This can be done in a number of ways, however. The applicant can provide, for example, a paystub or a birth certificate. An eligibility worker can also verify the applicant’s identity through a “collateral contact” such as a shelter caseworker. Homeless clients who lack identification should ask the eligibility worker to use a “collateral contact” to verify identity.

IF YOU HEAR REPORTS OF CLIENTS BEING WRONGFULLY DENIED FOOD STAMPS, OR IF YOU HAVE
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM, PLEASE CONTACT SARA SIMON, EQUAL JUSTICE
WORKS FELLOW, AT (202) 638-2535 EXT. 205 OR SSIMON@NLCHP.ORG

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Written by americanveterannewspaper

July 26, 2008 at 12:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized