If you need help on how to apply for food stamps in Iowa, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will review the step-by-step process for completing your Iowa food stamps application, including eligibility and what you need to successfully complete your application. This post will provide information on the following topics:
- Overview of the Food Stamps Program
- How Much You Could Receive In Food Stamps
- Iowa Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements
- How to Apply for Food Stamps in Iowa
- What Happens After You Apply
About the Food Stamps Program
The Food Stamps Program also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers help to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families living in the United States.
The program provides qualifying low-income households with food benefits, access to a healthy diet and education on food preparation and nutrition.
SNAP is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services. Benefits are distributed by each state’s Division of Social Services or Children and Family Services.
The food stamps program is the largest economic assistance program offered by the federal government to fight hunger. In 2016, the government spent $70.9 billion on the Food Stamps Program, helping roughly 44.2 million Americans (14% of the population).
Who Can Apply for Food Stamps
The Food Stamps Program was created to help fight hunger and to improve the nutrition and health of those on a low income. The program helps people with limited money buy the food they need for good health. This includes individuals who:
- Are employed but have low income
- Are living on a small or fixed income
- Have lost their job
- Are retired or disabled and not able to work
How Much In Food Stamps Will I Receive?
If you are eligible for food stamps, how much you receive primarily depends on the number of people in your household, your income, and resources. To see if your household size and income may qualify for food stamps, use the table provided below.
The table shows the maximum income amount you can receive each month based on the number of people in your household for 2019.
What Can I Buy with Food Stamps?
Once you’ve been approved for food stamps, you may wonder what you can buy with your food stamp benefits.
There are strict requirements about what you can and cannot purchase with food stamps. Generally, you are allowed to buy food you plan to take home and prepare.
You can use your benefits to buy food such as:
- Bread and cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meats, fish, and poultry
- Dairy products
- Seeds and plants to grow food
You cannot use your benefits to buy:
- Non Food items (pet foods, paper products, cleaning products, household supplies, grooming items, cosmetics, etc.)
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Food that is prepared and can be eaten in the store
- Hot, ready-to-eat food
- Vitamins and medicines
- Baby food, diapers, and other supplies
Iowa Food Stamps Program
The Iowa food stamps program is run by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). The Iowa DHS is responsible for determining SNAP eligibility and delivering food stamp benefits. The DHS also provides employment, education, and training services to food stamp recipients.
To find out what you need to successfully apply for food stamps in Iowa, keep reading our post below.
Iowa Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements
If you would like to apply for food stamps in Iowa, you must first meet the eligibility requirements. Of all the requirements, the income limit is the biggest factor that determines whether you are approved for benefits. Make sure you review the Iowa income limit to see if you are eligible before applying.
If your income does not meet the limit, you will not be eligible for Iowa food stamp benefits. If you are not eligible, there may be other government or nutrition assistance programs you qualify for.
Here is the full list of Iowa food stamps eligibility requirements:
To receive Iowa food stamps, you must be a resident of the state of Iowa.
Only United States citizens and certain categories of lawfully admitted non-citizens can apply for food stamps. If you are a non-citizen, see our detailed article on the topic here.
If your income (based on your household size) is less than or equal to the limit amount listed in the chart below, then you may be eligible for SNAP benefits.
To see if your income is eligible, you must calculate your household’s monthly total gross income and total net income.
Gross income is a household’s total, non-excluded income before any deductions have been made such as taxes or other withholdings.
Net income is a household’s total gross income minus allowable deductions.
The standard allowable deductions for food assistance benefits can include:
- Shelter costs
- Household size costs
- Childcare costs
- Medical expenses for the elderly or disabled
- Child support costs
The total monthly gross and net income limit for 2019 is shown in the table below:
What counts as Income?
One commonly asked question among food stamps applicants is, “What counts as income?”
Income is any earned or unearned money from sources, such as:
- Employment Wage or Salary (before payroll taxes)
- Cash assistance
- Social Security
- Unemployment insurance
- Child support
Please note that:
- If your household’s gross income is below these amounts, it does not ensure that you will be eligible for benefits.
- A SNAP budget must be calculated for your household in order to determine eligibility and benefit amount.
- The only way to determine if your household is eligible for SNAP benefits is to complete an application for Iowa food stamps.
For a detailed post on how to calculate your monthly gross and net income, including the documents you’ll be required to present to support your food stamps application, check out our 2019 Food Stamps Income Limit article.
Households may have up to $2,250 in countable resources or $3,500 If a household member is age 60 or older, or is disabled. Countable resources include cash or money in a bank account.
What counts as Resources?
Countable resources are defined as any monetary source that can be available to the household to purchase food. This includes money in a bank account and cash savings.
Items that are not accessible, such as the household’s home, personal property, and retirement savings, do not count. Also, most automobiles do not count as accessible resources.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Iowa
Here are the four ways you can apply for food assistance in Iowa:
1. Apply Online
You can apply for Iowa food assistance online by visiting the Iowa DHS online benefits portal. To access the Iowa Department of Human Services website follow this link.
Click the “Apply for Programs” link on the right-side of the screen to begin applying for food stamp benefits.
2. Apply by Mail
To apply for Iowa food stamps by mail, download the Iowa food assistance application. Once completed, mail in the application plus any additional requested information to your local DHS office.
You can also request to have an application mailed to you by calling the Iowa DHS help hotline at 1-877-347-5678.
To find your local DHS office mailing address, click here.
3. Apply by Fax
You can also apply for Iowa food stamp benefits by faxing in your completed application to your local DHS office. To find out the fax number for your local DHS office, visit the County Office page here.
Be sure to fax in copies of your income, employment and expense verification information with your completed Iowa food assistance application.
4. Apply In Person
The last way to apply for Iowa food stamp benefits is by visiting your local Department of Human Services office. Click the following link to find the DHS office in your county.
Before you visit, be sure you have all income and eligibility verification information with you. You will not be able to submit your application without proof of income, residence, and expenses.
What you Need to Apply
You will need to provide several items in order to successfully complete your application and interview for Iowa food assistance.
You will need to provide:
- Identification – Birth certificate or driver’s license
- Non-citizen documentation (if applicable)
- Social Security number for everyone in your household
- Proof of earned & unearned income – Pay stub, Social Security payments, etc.
- Proof of Assets – Bank statements
What to Expect After You Apply
After you apply for Iowa food assistance benefits, you will be asked to complete an interview. The interview for food stamp benefits is conducted over the phone or in-person by your DHS caseworker. You will be asked to verify your situation and information provided in the application during your interview.
Once the interview has been completed, you can expect to receive a notice in the mail stating if you qualify for benefits, what benefits you qualify for, how much you will receive and when you will receive them.
Iowa DHS Contact Information
For additional questions about the SNAP application process, you can call the Iowa DHS help hotline at the phone number below:
Help Hotline (Toll-Free): 1-877-347-5678
Email: [email protected]
How will I Receive Benefits?
If you are approved Iowa food assistance, your benefit amount will be deposited to your Iowa Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card on the same day each month.
The Iowa EBT card is a plastic, debit-like card that can be used at point-of-sale (POS) terminals to purchase eligible food items. Your Iowa EBT card will be mailed to you and have your name, card number, and the Iowa EBT logo on it. Your EBT card can be used to buy groceries and other food items at stores that accept food stamps.
How Long Will it Take to Receive Benefits?
If you are in a crisis situation and need food assistance immediately, benefits can be provided within seven days, if you are eligible. You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for expedited food assistance services. For more information on emergency food assistance visit this page.
How Long Can I Be on Food Stamps?
There are no limits to how long you can get food stamps if you have children/dependents living in your household that are under the age of 18 or over the age of 50. If you are a single, able-bodied adult receiving food stamps and do not have dependents in your home, you can only receive food stamps for 3 consecutive months in a 36-month period.
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We hope this post about applying for Iowa food assistance was helpful to you! If you have any additional questions about how to apply for food stamps in Iowa, please leave those in the comments section below. If you have complaints about your experience applying for the Iowa SNAP program, we would like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.