Access Food Assistance and SUNCAP
The Food Assistance Program helps people with low-income, buy healthy food. A food assistance household is normally a group of people who live together and buy food and cook meals together. If your household passes the Food Assistance Program’s eligibility rules, the amount of food assistance benefits you get depends on the number of people in your household and how much money is left after certain expenses are subtracted.
Individuals must pass all eligibility rules to get food assistance benefits. Some of the eligibility rules are:
- Identity - Individuals must show proof they are the person they claim to be. Applicants must provide proof of their identity.
- Work Rules - Healthy adults, 18 to 50 years of age, who do not have dependent children or are not pregnant, can only get food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period, if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program.
- Income and Deductions – The Food Assistance Program counts most types of income to see if a household is eligible. Households must have their monthly gross income compared to a percentage of the federal poverty level. Gross income means a household’s total income before deductions, not counting money we can exclude. Allowable deductions such as child care, medical expenses, and housing costs are subtracted from the gross income to see if the household is eligible for a benefit amount.
- Residency - Individuals must live in the state of Florida.
- Citizenship - Individuals must be a U.S. citizen or have a qualified noncitizen status.
- SSN - Individuals must provide a Social Security Number or proof they have applied for one.
- Child Support cooperation - Certain individuals must cooperate with the state’s child support enforcement agency to prove a child’s legal relationship to their parent and to get the court to order child support payments.
- Assets - Most food assistance households may have assets such as vehicles, bank accounts, or property and still get help. Households with a disqualified member must meet an asset limit of $2,000 or $3,250 (if the household contains an elderly or disabled member).
People who are convicted of drug trafficking, who are running away from a felony warrant, who break Food Assistance Program rules on purpose, who are noncitizens without a qualified status, and some students in colleges or universities are not eligible for food assistance benefits.
Foods You Can Buy With Food Assistance Benefits
Households can use food assistance benefits to buy breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. Households cannot use food assistance benefits to buy nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, vitamins, medicines, food to eat in the store, or hot foods.
The SUNCAP Program is a special Food Assistance Program for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You may be eligible to receive food assistance benefits through the SUNCAP Program without any additional application, paperwork, or interviews. If you already receive food assistance benefits in the regular Food Assistance Program, you may be automatically put in the SUNCAP Program when you become SSI eligible. If your food assistance benefits will go down, because of SUNCAP, you may choose to continue receiving your food assistance under the regular Food Assistance Program.
Detailed information about the Food Assistance Program is available in the Food Assistance Program Fact Sheet.