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SNAP Basics:

  • How is eligibility determined?

When determining eligibility, the Department of Transitional Assistance looks at the size, composition, incomes and expenses of the household.  To be eligible, someone must be a Massachusetts Resident, meet the citizenship requirements as well as meet the income guidelines for the household.  Allowable expenses that can increase the amount of benefits a household receives include: shelter costs (rent/mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, utilities, etc.), dependent care expenses, as well as out of pocket medical expenses (for people age 60 and over and individuals with disabilities).

  • How do I apply?

1.       First, you need to fill out an application.  You can contact Mary Loughlin at The Food Bank for assistance with this by calling 413-247-9738.  To directly download the application or to apply online, go to

2.       Second, you need to be interviewed by your Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) case worker.  This does not mean you have to go to the DTA office – in fact, most interviews are being done via phone now.

3.       Next, you will need to submit verifications to back up the information you provided on your application.

4.       Lastly, wait for a decision.  A decision must be made on your application within 30 days of when you submit your application.  If you disagree with this decision you have the right to appeal it.

  • How do I receive my benefits?

Once you are determined eligible for SNAP benefits, you receive your benefits through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.  These cards work like a debit card at local retailers.  They are accepted at grocery stores, many convenience stores and even some local farmers markets.

Common Myths/Misperceptions about SNAP:

  • SNAP is welfare.

SNAP is a federal nutrition program that helps people facing difficult financial times to buy groceries.  In fact, SNAP brings money from the federal government into our local economy and is viewed by many economists as one of the most effective economic stimulus programs.  According to Moody, for every $1 spent in SNAP benefits, an additional $1.73 is generated in the local economy.  {Source – Moody’s; congressional testimony.}

  • I own a car/house, I am not eligible.

Car and home ownership do not prevent your eligibility.  In fact, if you own a home, your mortgage interest, principle, home owners insurance and property taxes are all allowable deductions that can increase the amount of benefits for which you are eligible.  The asset test that used to be required for SNAP benefits has almost entirely been eliminated.

  • There are other people who need this more than I do.

SNAP is an entitlement program, which means that if you meet the eligibility requirements for SNAP you can receive benefits.  There is not a quota amount of people who can participate in the program so you cannot be taking the benefits away from anyone.

There are many additional questions that come up in regards to this program.  If you want additional information, to know whether or not you and your family might be eligible, contact one of the SNAP Coordinators at The Food Bank of Western MA at 413.247.9738.