Food Stamps AKA SNAP: How to Apply

Aug 22, 2020 11:40 PM EDT | By Madelaine D. (

Food stamps or also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the main food assistance program in the United States. Applying for this program would be confusing. However, Pittsburgh City Paper talks with the public policy advocate at Pittsburgh food access nonprofit Just Harvest, Ann Sanders, about the steps an individual can take to apply for food stamps. 

There are several ways to have access to food assistance through SNAP. You may apply through TANF cash assistance, COMPASS system online that offers different types of benefits including medical assistance, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  

Sanders said that there had been an increase in people getting food stamps, but not likely the rise in people applying for unemployment benefits. "At the beginning, there was a huge spike, but it's gone down quite a bit since people started getting their unemployment benefits."

Food Stamps AKA SNAP:  Guide on How to Apply
(Photo : Justin Sullivan)
Trump Administration Sets New Work Requirement Rules For Food Stamp Recipients RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: A sign noting the acceptance of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that are used by state welfare departments to issue benefits is displayed at a convenience store on December 04, 2019 in Richmond, California. Nearly 700,000 people are set to lose their food stamp benefits after the Trump administration announced plans to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

But as the $600-a-week unemployment benefit has expired, Sanders expects a more significant number of people to seek food assistance. "We've already done several applications for folks who lost that benefit, and we expect to see a lot more coming in," Sanders said. So for you who's thinking of applying for food assistance, here is how you will do it:

How to apply?

To apply for SNAP, go to the COMPASS website using a smartphone or computer. Through a smartphone, you need to click to access the full desktop-style website. Just Harvest and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank can help you with your app over the phone. 

Just Harvest will assist you in creating a username and security code; Sanders advises applicants to write down on a note and keep it in a safe place if you need to reaccess the app.

Then, you need to fill up the details required, including the people you live with. The app will let you choose the benefits you are applying for; food stamps, medical assistance, or other programs. After filling all the required information, click the "submit" button at the bottom of the screen to fully complete the submission of your application.

Afterward, the list of documents will pop up. These are the requirements you need to submit. As per PGH City Paper, there are two most important requirements you need to provide; the proof of income and the identity for main household members. The rest of the conditions are optional. You may choose to send whatever is available that is in the list aside from proof of income and identity if household members.

If you miss completing the requirements, COMPASS will give you a chance to submit the paperwork if you try to appeal for it instead of submitting a new application. As per Sanders, the most common reason for rejecting the claim is that people don't send their documents. If a scanner is not available, applicants can submit documents through MyCompassPA, the COMPASS mobile app.

In the previous process, the SNAP application requires an interview, which can be a hurdle for the applicants if they would miss a phone call or if an individual does not have cell service. However, the interview process was waived for most of the programs since the pandemic started, except for cash assistance program.

According to Just Harvest, an applicant is qualified for food stamps if they are proven to be residents of the county where they applied for the benefit. Also. If the individual can verify identity through Social Security number and if the person is a U.S citizen or a non-citizen qualified to meet other eligibility rules. 

Lastly, a person is qualified if he can meet the income guidelines. Owning a home, car, having savings, being a refugee, receiving other benefits, or living with other people isn't a ground to be disqualified from being approved for food stamps.

For the full list of qualifications, including the limits of income-eligible for SNAP, visit the Just Harvest website

An eligible applicant who's approved for food stamps will receive a mail that lists how much you will get per month. The letter also indicates the date you will receive the actual EBT card; it usually takes two to three days later. After applying through the website and submitting all the required documents, you can receive a response if you are approved, within five days. 

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