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Public Benefits: What should I know about SNAP (food stamp) Benefits during COVID-19?



Are Job and Family Services (JFS) buildings open?

Many county JFS buildings are closed to the public, but have drop boxes available if you need to give them documents. They should also accept documents by fax and email.

In Cuyahoga County, the  Virgil E. Brown (1641 Payne Ave) building is open for in-person service from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. Other Cuyahoga County JFS buildings have drop boxes.

How do I apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Payments (SNAP), also known as food stamps?

Call Ohio Benefits at 844-640-6446 or go to benefits.ohio.gov. You can also contact the Greater Cleveland Food Bank at 216-738-2067.  For more info about applying for SNAP, visit https://www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/get-help/apply-for-help/.

Do I have to do an “interview” to get SNAP benefits?

 Yes; Job and Family Services is required to conduct an interview with you when you apply and again when you recertify, or renew, your benefits.* This interview does not have to be in-person. Job and Family Services will send you a notice about when you should call to complete your interview. However, if you aren’t available at that time, you can call Ohio Benefits at 844-640-6446 at any time to do the interview.

*For some people who do not have changes to their household, an interview will not be required during recertification.

 How will Job and Family Services verify my income?

Job and Family Services (JFS) will try to verify eligibility requirements, such as income, through an electronic data source whenever possible. If they are not able to verify, they should accept what you tell them. They may ask you to provide certain necessary documentation. Most counties have a drop box where you can leave documents, or you can ask them to mail you a prepaid envelope.

My food stamps are set to expire soon. What do I have to do to renew them?

For households who were supposed to expire in March, April, May, or June 2020, the recertification period was extended by six months. For example, if your benefits were supposed to expire in April, you will now have to do your recertification in October. For all other households, the normal recertification process still applies. If you get mail from Job and Family Services about recertifying, make sure you complete all the steps.

Can I use my SNAP funds to pay for cleaning supplies or online groceries?

SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for cleaning supplies. Giant Eagle, Walmart, and some Kroger stores allow you to order online for curbside pickup and pay with your EBT card at the curb. They may require you to make an online account or have a minimum purchase amount.

I’m supposed to work in order to get food stamps. Have work and training requirements for food stamps changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. The federal government has suspended work and training requirements for food stamps starting April 2020 until one month after the national public health emergency is declared over.

I heard people are supposed to get extra benefits because of COVID-19. Is that true? What do I need to do?

Some households have received extra benefits for each month since March. If you already get the maximum amount of benefits for your household, you will not get anything extra. If you are getting less than the maximum benefit for your household, the amount of the extra benefit is the difference between what you are approved for and the maximum.

If you have children who would normally get free lunch at school, you might also get Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) benefits, too. For more information, go here.

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