We’ve got BIG EBT news in April 2023! In this month’s EBT update, we’re going to talk about how to double your food benefits, how to get stolen benefits replaced, 19 new EBT discounts and more!
Nationwide EBT News
These updates apply nationwide. For local news, please visit your state subheading below.
Get the benefits you deserve.
If you think you may be eligible for disability benefits, worker’s comp, or a settlement due to an accident or injury, Atticus may be able to help you. They have a quick two-minute survey to see if you’re eligible.
They can help figure out what you might qualify for and help you connect with a lawyer, if you’d like to move forward.
If you decide to work with a lawyer, you don’t have to pay anything up front; they only recover a certain amount from your settlement if you win your case. That means they only make money if you do.
Double your EBT benefits.
The Double Up Food Bucks program is underway in many areas! This is a nationwide movement that helps you get more food for your food stamps dollars.
This program helps you get free money to spend on fresh, locally-grown produce when you shop at participating retailers with your EBT card. There are participating farmers markets in almost every state, and sometimes farm stands, CSAs, convenience stores and even grocery stores participate in this program.
There are programs like this in almost every state. Sometimes they’re called Double Up Food Bucks, sometimes they’re called something else. Sometimes there’s a $20 limit, sometimes there’s no limit at all. Sometimes you can only use the doubled-up money to buy fruits and vegetables, sometimes you can also buy seeds, plants, and other things. It just depends on what state you’re in.
Visit our Double Up Food Bucks guide for more information on your state’s programs.
In other news, SNAP replacement plans are underway in Maryland and Vermont! More states should be getting their plans approved very soon.
Federal law now requires states to implement these plans and replace up to two months of stolen benefits. If you’ve had your benefits stolen any time after October 1, 2022, then this should really help.
Of course, the bad news is that EBT theft has risen by 4,000% over the last year. The government is working hard to stop those thefts at both the state and federal levels.
Most EBT thefts happen as a result of skimmers. Skimmers are sneaky little devices that are placed on card terminals. These devices can pick up your card number and PIN, and transmit that information to a scammer. Scammers can then create new cards using your information, and that’s how they steal your benefits.
I’ve never encountered a skimmer personally, but the New York City Department of Social Services has a great guide that can help you spot them. I’ve been checking the card-swiping machines at my local stores, and I’ve been pleased to see that many of them use plastic security tape around the edges to make sure that no skimmers have been installed.
The government has also successfully found several scammers. In California, 15 suspects were arrested in a $38 million EBT theft in Southern California. Almost 30 stolen EBT cards were recovered in a bust in Massachusetts. Stores like the Istanbul Market in Phoenix are being identified as EBT fraud hotspots. After the scammers made several large purchases at the Istanbul Market, the owner put up a security system and the thieves appear to have stopped shopping there.
It’s generally best to only swipe your EBT card at well-lit, frequently shopped stores that are adequately staffed or have security cameras. If there’s someone watching the register, it’s a lot less likely that someone will install a skimmer there.
USDA Mobile Pilot Program
The USDA has announced a Mobile Payment Pilot that will allow five states to start implementing contactless payments. This may involve using a mobile wallet or a tap-to-pay system, it’s not really clear yet. The government has acknowledged that it could take a few years to completely roll this out because the technology has to be developed and implemented.
The program will be starting in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma.
The government has also assured me that nobody will be forced to use mobile payments. You can keep swiping your card if you want to, even after those new technologies roll out.
New EBT Card Security Features
A bill has been introduced to Congress that would require states to include a photograph of one or more household members on the EBT card itself. This bill was sponsored by Representative Grothman and is intended to help reduce EBT fraud.
Personally, I have some questions about this since people with disabilities are allowed to have their caregivers shop for them and that could make things complicated… but as long as that concern is addressed, this could be a good step toward reducing food stamps fraud. The bill is still in committee, so we do not yet know if this is something that will actually become law.
New ABAWD Work Rules Proposed
There’s another proposal out there that you need to know about. Congress is currently considering a new proposal that would change the rules for able-bodied adults without dependents.
The current law says that able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49 must meet work requirements. The new proposal would change the age limit to 65.
This would mean that any adult under age 65 who is not disabled would need to work at least 80 hours per month in order to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months. This was attempted last year as well but the bill never made it out of committee.
New School Meal Proposals
Also, the USDA has proposed a rule change that will make it easier for low income children to get free school meals.
Current regulations require 40% of students to be low income in order for the school to provide free meals for all students. The new proposal would lower that threshold to 25%, which would make it easier for schools to offer those free meals.
New Stores Accepting EBT Online
In other news, Coborn’s Grocery stores are accepting EBT payments for delivery and curbside orders placed via Instacart. Coborns brands also include Cash Wise Foods, Marketplace Foods and Hornbachers.
There are currently several stores that accept EBT through Instacart.
Flashfood accepts EBT
The Flashfood app helps you find clearance meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products at local grocery stores. The app looks for products nearing their sell-by date that have been deeply discounted. You can shop through the FlashFood app and then go pick up your food at the store for up to 50% regular price!
There are many grocery stores that work with FlashFood, and recently Meijer in Wisconsin became the first participating store to accept EBT for FlashFood purchases!
I’m hoping this will spread to other retailers, because FlashFood is amazing. If you use my referral code, you’ll get $5 off your first $10 order! The code is NIKK4G40Q.
The bad news is that this isn’t really usable on the West Coast yet. There are a lot of stores in the East, but currently the closest stores to the West Coast are in Texas and Iowa. Hopefully it’ll expand soon.
New EBT Discounts
We’ve also found 19 new EBT discounts in 15 states! You should check our EBT discount list for new additions if you are in:
- New Hampshire
- New York
I was really excited to see that these programs are starting to expand outside of major metropolitan areas – for example, there’s a new participating museum in Kalispell, Montana, which is pretty rural.
Local EBT News
We’ve found tons of local EBT news, too! Check your state’s information below.
In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources announced that 530,000 children will receive summer P-EBT benefits this year!
If your child receives free or reduced-price student meals, you’ll receive $120 for each eligible student… but the money won’t be available until mid-to-late summer.
In Alaska, there are some big problems with the EBT program. Federal officials have warned the state government of Alaska that they may have to pay financial penalties if they don’t fix the monthslong backlog of food benefits. Benefits are supposed to be issued within 30 days, but it currently takes up to four months to get help in Alaska. Currently, one in 8 Alaskans use food stamps.
I also noticed something really interesting when I was updating our Alaska EBT guide this week. EBT shoppers in Alaska really aren’t making the most of their benefits. Less than 7% of eligible Alaskans are purchasing hunting and fishing gear, and literally NOBODY has redeemed the double-up option at the Sitka Farmers Market in the last few years.
In California, there is a huge backlog happening with the CalFresh program. A student at UC Berkeley recently wrote an editorial in the Alameda Post explaining just how bad the situation is. Raksha wrote that the process is supposed to be completed in 30 days but actually took over two months and two application cycles.
At one point, Raksha says, “I later got a letter in the mail, telling me I had a phone interview call scheduled – for six days before I even received the letter.”
If you are applying for benefits in California or need to renew your benefits, please get that paperwork in right away and do your best to stay on top of it. The county agencies that administer this program are vastly overworked and delays are possible – whether you’re in California or any other state.
In other news, Raley’s Grocery is now accepting EBT through Instacart! This adds 83 more grocery stores in California that will allow you to order groceries for delivery with your benefits.
In Maryland, the state has received approval to start replacing stolen EBT benefits. There are more than 3,800 known victims so far who have lost more than 2 1/2 million dollars in benefits.
To get your benefits replaced, you will need to visit the Maryland Department of Human Resources website and click the big red button that says “File a Claim.” You need to complete the form and submit it.
Claims for benefits stolen before February 28 must be filed by May 31st. After March 1, you need to file your claim within 45 days in order to get those benefits replaced.
The state says that your benefits will be replaced within 15 days – and the state is also working toward implementing a card-locking feature, text and email alerts for purchases, and more.
In Massachusetts, the state has proposed a bill that would provide reimbursement benefits that were stolen between April 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022. Since the federal law only requires states to reimburse benefits stolen after October 1 of that year, this would help a lot more people.
In Michigan, Quality Dairy convenience stores can now accept EBT for online orders.
In Missouri, P-EBT benefits for last summer still have not been issued. Nearly 33,000 families are still waiting on those benefits.
The state was not tracking COVID-related student absences, which was required by the USDA. They are working on getting the necessary data together and submitted so that they can issue those benefits but unfortunately we do not know when that will happen yet.
In New Jersey, Governor Murphy has announced that the minimum monthly SNAP payment in the state will increase from $50 to $95.
This is great news, since the federal minimum is only $23.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Human Services is warning residents about a new text message EBT scam.
The scammers send a text message that says something like “Your Pennsylvania ACCESS card is blocked” and you have to call a number or click a link to unlock it. When you do that, the scammers get your card number and PIN so they can duplicate your cards.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has said they will NEVER send you a text message like that, so please do not respond if you receive it.
In New York, The Hub on the Hill has become the first grocer in the nation to roll out an automatic online Double Up Food Bucks solution! When you shop from Hub on the Hill with your EBT benefits, you’ll see an automatic credit for Double Up Food Bucks.
Those can be immediately redeemed on eligible produce purchases. This is a great way to get more food for your money while still enjoying the convenience of shopping online.
In Texas, the Grow Local Farmer’s Market will begin accepting SNAP Benefits on March 1st. You’ll need to visit the information table to swipe your EBT card and they’ll give you coupons that you can use with all of the vendors. It’s set up this way so that not every farmer has to get EBT approval.
This market also has a Double Up program!
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Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks!Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.
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