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Common questions

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a program that can help you pay for the food you need. Whether you qualify for SNAP and how much you'll get depends on the number of people in your household and how much money you have.

Here, see common questions about SNAP. If you have a question about food benefits that isn't answered here, check out ways to lower expenses under Your Options.

There is no difference. SNAP used to be called food stamps. It was also called food support for a while. Today, the program doesn't use actual stamps. Instead, people are given an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which is like a debit card, to buy food.

The only way to know for sure if you qualify for SNAP is to apply, but you can use the screening tool below to see if you might qualify.

To apply for SNAP online, go to MNbenefits. To apply by mail or in person, fill out one of these application forms:

Submit the form by mail or in person to your local county or tribal office (PDF). For help completing the SNAP application, contact a local SNAP outreach partner. Find the nearest SNAP outreach partner by calling the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 651-486-9860 in the Twin Cities metro area or 888-711-1151 outside the metro area.

It depends on your situation. In most cases, your worker must tell you the decision within 30 days. For some emergency situations, you could get benefits within 24 hours or five working days from the day you file your application.

You can use your SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card anywhere that accepts Minnesota's EBT card. These stores will have posters or signs that read: "We accept EBT." This includes many grocery stores, farmers markets and congregate dining sites. You can even use your EBT card for Meals on Wheels. 

You can use your SNAP card to buy food for yourself and people in your household. You can also buy plants and seeds to grow food.

You can't use your SNAP card to buy:

  • Hot food, food that is already prepared or food that will be eaten in the store 
  • Pet food
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Vitamins
  • Medicines
  • Household supplies (like soap and paper products) or grooming items (like toothpaste and cosmetics)