FAQ about FNS/SNAP


What can I buy?
Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) can be used to buy food items at most grocery stores and some farmers’ markets. FNS/SNAP can also be used to buy seeds and plant starters, allowing you to grow your own fruits and vegetables. FNS/SNAP cannot be used to buy tobacco, pet food, paper products, soap products, or alcohol.

How do I use the EBT card?
The “Electronic Benefits Transfer” (EBT) card is like a debit card and is now used instead of paper food stamps. FNS/SNAP benefits are automatically loaded onto the EBT card each month. The EBT card is swiped at the checkout. There is no sales tax on purchases made using an EBT card.

Where can I use my EBT card?
Click here to find retailers in your area that accept FNS/SNAP.

How soon will I start getting my benefits?
If you are eligible to get FNS/SNAP, you should get your EBT card within 30 calendar days of returning your application and required verification documents to your local Department of Social Services (DSS) office. Households eligible for emergency benefits should get their EBT card within 7 calendar days of returning their FNS/SNAP application.

How do I get emergency benefits?
A household may be eligible for emergency benefits if:

  • Gross monthly income (income before taxes and other subtractions) of the household is less than $150/month and the household’s cash or money in the bank is less than $100,

OR

  • Rent/mortgage and utilities is more than the household’s gross monthly income and cash or money in the bank,

OR

  • At least one member of the household is a seasonal/migrant farmworker

 

What if I do not use all of my benefits each month? 
Benefits not used by the end of the month can be used the next month. Benefits not used for 12 months will expire.

Do I need a Social Security number? 
Yes. Everyone in your household must have or apply for a Social Security number to get FNS/SNAP. People in your household who do not want to receive FNS/SNAP benefits do not have to give their Social Security number. However, they will still be asked to give their income and other information. People in your household who do not have a Social Security number will also be asked to give their income information.

I was not born in the United States. Am I able to get FNS/SNAP? 
Maybe. Some immigrants must live in the United States for a certain amount of time before getting FNS/SNAP. Click here to learn more. Even if you or someone else in your household is not eligible for FNS/SNAP, other household members born in this country may be able to receive FNS/SNAP.

I do not have an address. Can I apply for FNS/SNAP? 
Yes. The DSS office will still need an address where mail can be sent to you. This could be a shelter, church, friend’s house, or other address where you can get mail.

I work. Can I apply for FNS/SNAP?
Yes. If your household meets the income limits, you may be able to get FNS/SNAP.

I am not working. Can I apply for FNS/SNAP?
Yes. If your household meets the income limits, you may be able to get FNS/SNAP.

I own a home, car, land, and/or property. Can I apply for FNS/SNAP?
Yes. You may be able to get FNS/SNAP even if you own a home, car, land, and/or property. North Carolina no longer uses the resource limit test for most households. The DSS office will tell you if your household has to meet a resource limit test.

I have a retirement plan and/or money in the bank. Can I apply for FNS/SNAP?
Yes. You may be able to get FNS/SNAP even if you have a retirement account and/or money in the bank. North Carolina no longer uses the resource limit test for most households. The DSS office will tell you if your household has to meet a resource limit test.

How can I get help filling out the FNS/SNAP application? 
The More In My Basket team can help you complete the application. Please call 1-855-240-1451. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-382-7105.

Can I apply for FNS/SNAP online? 
Click here for the online application.

What if I cannot go to the interview at the DSS office? 
You can ask to do the interview by phone. You can also ask the DSS office if the interview could be on a different day or at a different time. You can also send an authorized representative to the interview. An authorized representative is someone you know and trust to help you.

I applied for FNS/SNAP and was told I was not eligible for benefits. What if I do not agree with the decision?
If you believe the decision was wrong, please call your county’s DSS office and ask for a fair hearing trial. You can also call Legal Aid.

Who do I call if I have other questions? 
Click here to find the phone number for your county’s DSS office. For general questions about FNS/SNAP, you can call the More In My Basket team at 1-855-240-1451. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-382-7105.

What should I do if I need help with food while I wait to hear back from the DSS office?
Call your local food bank. To find the food bank that works in your county, click here.