SNAP Benefits During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis
This resource contains common questions about SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 crisis for Tampa Bay area residents including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.
Emergency allotments (EA) ended. Although DCF had automatically supplemented the SNAP allotments of all participants up to the maximum for that household's size, the COVID-19 supplements ended in Florida as of August 1, 2021.
Still in place is a federal boost to the SNAP maximum allotments because of COVID-19 relief passed by the U.S. Congress and extended by the federal American Rescue Plan through September 2021.
There will be a different federal increase effective October 1, 2021. The federal SNAP agency has mandated a permanent increase to SNAP through a revision to its internal formula, the Thrifty Food Plan, for calculating benefit levels. DCF says that the change amounts to about a 6% increase for Floridians.
You can find more information about SNAP allotments at DCF's website.
Remember to re-certify promptly to keep getting SNAP without interruption. Although certifications periods were temporarily extended earlier in the pandemic, Florida reinstated the certification requirement a year ago. DCF should notify you when it's time to re-apply.
SNAP time limits remain suspended for Able-bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) during the national COVID-19 public health emergency. No one in Florida should be barred from SNAP due to time limits, even if they exhausted their time limit in the past, until the federal government says the public health emergency is over. However, work requirements were reinstated as of June 1, 2021.
If you are getting SNAP but need help food shopping, due to COVID-19 or any other reason, any member of your household can use the SNAP EBT card to food shop. Their name does NOT need to be on the card. You can also give your EBT card temporarily to a trusted friend or relative to food shop for you. The store should not inspect the card. The store should not refuse to serve any customer with an EBT card and PIN. You can also use your EBT card to shop for food online at Aldi, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walmart or Amazon. You may be able to arrange curbside pick-up. If the groceries are delivered by Aldi, Walmart or Amazon, your EBT card may not be used for the delivery fees. If you order above certain maximum amounts, the delivery fee may be waived.
If you do not already get SNAP, and you are low-income, apply now. There are several ways to apply:
- The fastest way to apply is online.
- DCF says that you can use a paper application by downloading and printing from this website. The completed paper application can be mailed to ACCESS Central Mail Center, P.O. Box 1770, Ocala, FL, 34478-1770, or it can be faxed or hand-delivered to a customer service center.
- In some areas, community partners may be open and able to help you apply. Call to confirm.
If you need food today, you can get help with emergency food resources in your community:
- Find a local food bank
- Call 2-1-1 or visit 211TampaBay.org
If you think there is a mistake with your SNAP case, contact Bay Area Legal Services or find free local legal help at The Florida Bar Foundation.
Last updated: September 2021
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