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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), is geared toward enabling low-income households to purchase the food they need to maintain proper nutritional levels and good health. The Thrifty Food Plan is USDA's estimate of a family's total monthly food expense broken down by household size which is adjusted annually in accordance with the cost of living index.

How do I apply for benefits?

My Benefits Online Application

Through a community partnership, three (3) community based organization are available to assist you in applying for SNAP benefits using the MyBenefits online application.

  • Schenectady Community Action Program, Inc. (SCAP) - (518) 374-9181
  • Nutrition Outreach Education Program (NOEP) at Catholic Charities - (518) 374-2427
  • Schenectady Inner-City Ministries (SICM) - (518) 346-4445

Applicants may apply for SNAP benefits either in person at the Department or at one of three community bases sites.  Application for benefits may be made in person at the Schenectady County Department of Social Services, 797 Broadway, Schenectady, New York 12305. 

If you are unable to appear for a face-to- face interview, a friend or relative may apply for food stamps on the household's behalf. If the applicant is unable to appoint an "Authorized Representative", arrangements may be made under certain circumstances for a worker to conduct the interview at home or by telephone. SSI recipients may apply by mail or in person at the local Social Security office or the Department of Social Services.

What are the main eligibility factors?
The Program is designed to provide a nutritional supplement for both public assistance and non-public assistance households who meet certain eligibility standards with respect to income, resources, and alien status. Factors such as household size, shelter/utility expense, and monthly income are taken into account in determining specific benefit levels for each household.

Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and live alone may be eligible to automatically receive SNAP Benefits under the New York State Nutrition Improvement Project.  Please call the hotline at 1-800-342-3009 for additional information.

How long will it take to determine eligibility?
Although an eligibility determination may take up to 30 days from the date of application, if eligible, benefits will be issued retroactively to the date the application was initially filed. In addition, an eligible SNAP household may be entitled to receive benefits on an expedited basis within 5 calendar days of the application date, provided the household's income, and available resources are within established limits during the month of application.

Once eligibility is established, recipients are issued a Benefit Identification (ID) card and are asked to select a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is used to access benefits at any number of local retail sites throughout the county.

How do I maintain my eligibility?
Once initial eligibility is established, a redetermination for continued participation in SNAP is conducted on a bi-annual basis. Each food stamp household is scheduled for a recertification interview at the end of the initial 12 month certification period in order to document changes in income, expenses, household composition or any other change in circumstances that may affect SNAP eligibility or degree of need. SNAP recipients with earned income, however, are scheduled for a recertification interview every 6 months.

It is important to note that the ultimate responsibility rests with the SNAP household in reporting changes in a timely fashion. Failure to comply in this regard, or intentionally withholding information or filing a fraudulent application, may result in food stamp penalties, including a reduction in benefits, durational sanctions or permanent disqualification.

Individuals who qualify for SNAP under the New York State Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP) will be eligible for a 48 month certification period.  Call the hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

How can I use my SNAP Benefits at Farmers' Markets?
You can use your SNAP benefits at many of the Schenectady County Farmers' Markets and the Schenectady Greenmarket to purchase fruits and vegetables, breads, baked goods, meat, fish and poultry, dairy, maple syrup, honey, jams, sauces, spreas, vegetables, and plants.