How to apply for SNAP (FNS) benefits

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ByEmily Kraft WTVD logo
Thursday, April 9, 2020
SNAP, FNS, and Food Stamps all refer to the same assistance program. Here's how you can apply.

SNAP, FNS, and Food Stamps are three different names for one program. To fight the existing stigma of Food Stamps, the 2008 Farm Bill renamed the Food Stamp program the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

At that time, some states, including North Carolina, had already chosen new names for Food Stamps. In North Carolina, the program became known as Food & Nutrition Services or FNS.

Ways to apply:

1. In-person: Complete an application and interview at your county Department of Social Services office. Bringing supporting documentation such as ID, proof of residence, and proof of income can help expedite your application. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it's wise to call your local office before visiting, as some have altered traditional operations considering Gov. Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order: Local County Directory.

2. Online: Complete an online application for FNS and Medicaid: ePASS. After your form is submitted, a county intake worker will call to complete an interview. While it's not mandatory to create an account with NCID to apply, it's highly recommended. Creating an account saves your application progress, so if you lose connection or have other things to do, you can save your application and resume it later.

3. Benefits Outreach: The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is one of NC DHHS's state outreach partners for FNS, and the small but mighty team of Benefits Outreach Coordinators will reach out to complete the application by phone. To have someone call you, please complete a contact form. After the application phone conversation, a separate phone interview with a county intake worker is required.

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If a household has less than $150 per month in income, that household could be eligible for expedited or "emergency" benefits, which take about seven business days to process. If a household has more than $150 per month in income, the application process can take up to 30 days.

FNS can be used to purchase grocery food items but excludes hot foods, hygiene items, paper products, pet food, tobacco, and alcohol.

Emily Kraft is the Benefits Outreach Manager with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.