The District of Columbia’s (District) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) helps low-income individuals and families by providing monthly benefits to purchase food. SNAP benefits are provided on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, that is used as a debit card. EBT cards are accepted at most grocery stores, some farmers’ markets, convenience, big box stores, and some online stores. SNAP benefits generally cannot be used to buy prepared foods, vitamins, alcohol/tobacco, and non-food items (like soap or toothpaste).
How to Apply
You can apply for SNAP by completing an application, providing documents to verify your eligibility, and participating in an interview.
- Find out if you may be eligible before applying
- Applications are accepted online, via mobile application, in-person, fax (202-671-4400), or through the mail.
Eligibility and benefit amounts are based on income, expenses, and the number of people applying as a household.
- Learn more about SNAP eligibility requirements.
- Elderly and disabled households have different eligibility requirements.
- See if you may be eligible by answering a few questions.
- Find out the maximum benefit amounts by household size.
If you are eligible, you will be certified for SNAP for a certain number of months. This could range from 4 to 24-months, depending on your circumstances. You will need to notify us if you experience certain changes. Depending on your certification period, you may be required to complete check-in half-way through your certification period – this is a called a “mid-certification” or “interim contact”. At the end of your certification period, you will need to complete an application, provide us with documentation to verify your ongoing eligibility, and you may be asked to participate in an interview.
- Learn more about SNAP ongoing eligibility requirements
If you have received notification that it is time to complete a SNAP mid-certification or recertification, you can complete these actions online, via mobile application, or drop off your completed mid-certification or recertification in-person, or through the mail.
If you have received notification that it is time to complete a SNAP interim contact, please call the ESA Public Benefits Call Center at (202) 727-5355 from 7:30 am - 4:45 pm, Monday – Friday.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards
If you are approved for SNAP, each month your SNAP benefits will be automatically loaded onto an EBT Card. You must create a PIN that you will need to enter each time you make an eligible food purchase.
- Learn more about EBT cards
Using your SNAP Benefits
SNAP is accepted at most grocery stores, convenience stores, some farmers’ markets, and some online stores. SNAP can only be used to purchase eligible food items.
Employment and Training Services for SNAP Recipients
If you are approved for SNAP, you can receive employment, training, and education assistance at no cost through the:
- SNAP Employment & Training Program (SNAP E&T) – If you receive SNAP benefits and do not receive TANF benefits, the SNAP E&T program can help you achieve your career goals through a broad range of services focused on your interests and needs. The program is completely voluntary and participants receive reimbursements for eligible transportation, childcare, and other expenses related to participation. Loaner laptops are also available to eligible participants.
- TANF Employment Program (TEP): If you receive TANF in addition to SNAP benefits, the TEP program provides coaching towards education and employment goals, coaching for parents on goals they have for their child(ren) and families, and connections to service providers that can help you achieve those goals. Participant supports and incentives are also provided, including for the purchase of technology needed for remote participation.
Additional Food Resources
If you are approved for SNAP, you can receive employment, training, and education assistance through:
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to healthcare and other community services to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children. Dads, grandparents, foster parents of young children and working families are welcome too. WIC participants also receive vouchers to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market during the summer months.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)
- SNAP-Ed teaches people eligible for SNAP about healthy nutrition, how to make food dollars stretch further, and how to be physically active at any age in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
- provides seniors with low-income a monthly box of nutritious groceries and nutrition education. CSFP participants also receive vouchers to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market during the summer months through the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
- Local Nutrition Assistance Program
- The DC Health provides a variety of local nutrition assistance programs.