You may also contact Community Assistors for assistance in completing the Nutrition Assistance application. They will explain eligibility rules and what may be required of you to participate in the program. Once your application is submitted, the Community Assistor can assist you with submitting required documents for verification (for example: pay stubs, proof of citizenship or legal resident status, etc.). Some Assistors will be available to guide you through the process, and others will provide you with access to computers, scanners, telephones, copy machines and/or fax machines that you can use for free.
Be sure to call the Assistor/Partner before visiting to make sure they offer the service you need, and if necessary make an appointment.
How do I receive Nutrition Assistance benefits?
After the eligibility interview, you will be mailed a QUEST Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card issued by Fidelity National Information Services (FIS). The card generally arrives before the eligibility notice. The EBT card works just like an ATM/debit card and can be used at most local grocery stores and stores where QUEST is accepted.
Please note that you may receive the EBT card even if you are not eligible. Keep the card in a safe place because the card is active, does not expire, and can be used if you are eligible at a later date. The first replacement card in a calendar year is free. You are charged $5 for each additional replacement card. When you and your EBT alternate card holder requests more than 2 cards within a 12-month period, you will need to answer questions before receiving a replacement card. Also, a fraud investigation may be initiated.
When are my benefits put on my card every month?
After your initial month, Nutrition Assistance benefits will be available on your EBT card according to the following schedule:
EBT Benefits Schedule.
EBT Benefits available
A – B
1st day of month
C – D
2nd day of month
E - F
3rd day of month
G - H
4th day of month
I - J
5th day of month
K - L
6th day of month
M - N
7th day of month
O - P
8th day of month
Q - R
9th day of month
S - T
10th day of month
U - V
11th day of month
W - X
12th day of month
Y - Z
13th day of month
How are benefit amounts calculated?
The following is an explanation of how the Nutrition Assistance (NA) benefit amounts are determined using Thrifty Food Plan amounts. The Thrifty Food Plan amounts are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and must be used by all States as the basis to uniformly distribute NA benefits. All other eligibility requirements must be met before DES computes a budget to determine NA benefit amounts.
To manually calculate Nutrition Assistance benefits:
How to Calculate (effective October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019)
Sample Calculation - For a household of five with one income
Calculate the net monthly income. The net monthly income is the countable income before taxes less countable deductions. For a list of countable income and deductions, see the Policy Manual.
My gross monthly income from my job is $1739.33. I qualify for the following deductions:
An Earned Income deduction of $347.87 which is 20% of my gross earnings.
A Standard Deduction of $204.00.
A Housing Cost deduction of $421.32 based on my rent and utility expenses.
My total deductions of $973.19 are subtracted from my gross income which results in a net income of $766.14.
Multiply the net monthly income by 30%
766.14 x 0.30 = 229.84
Round the product up to the next whole dollar when it ends in $0.01 through $0.99
229.84 rounded = 230
Using the table below, subtract the result from the Thrifty Food Plan amount for the appropriate number of Nutrition Assistance eligible household members (budgetary unit). The resulting amount is the Nutrition Assistance benefit amount.
What can I buy with Nutrition Assistance Benefits (Benefits Usage Guidelines)?
Nutrition Assistance benefits cannot be used to pay for credit or charge accounts.
Some items that can be bought with Nutrition Assistance Benefits include:
Breads and cereals.
Food products for human consumption. Meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products.
Food products for human consumption.
Vegetable seeds, food-producing plants, roots and trees.
Infant formula; diabetic foods.
Meals prepared for and delivered or served to elderly or disabled Nutrition Assistance participants, when the organization is authorized to accept Nutrition Assistance Benefits.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals. (This program is referred to as the Restaurant Meals Program. Some restaurants include: Subway, Golden Corral, Jack in the Box, and Dominos Pizza. Not all participate, check for the EBT sign or ask a manager at the restaurant)
Some items that Nutrition Assistance benefits cannot be used to buy:
Beer, wine, liquor (alcoholic beverages).
Cigarettes or tobacco.
Non-food items such as soap, paper products, cleaning supplies and cooking utensils.
Items used for gardening such as fertilizer, peat moss and similar products.
Items that are not to be eaten by people such as laundry starch, pet foods, or seeds packaged as bird seed.
Vitamins and minerals, in any form.
All health aids, such as aspirin, cough drops or syrups, cold remedies, antacids and all prescription medicines.
The Nutrition Assistance EBT card can be used at any vendor that accepts EBT. Locations may include grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers markets. The cost of items that are allowed to be purchased using Nutrition Assistance are deducted from Nutrition Assistance benefits during purchase. Items that are not allowed must be paid for separately. Some restaurants that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program also accept EBT for certain people that are allowed to purchase prepared meals.
You are allowed to use your EBT card outside of Arizona. A notice will be sent requiring you to answer questions about your EBT usage when 10% or more of your benefit amount is used outside of Arizona during a six month period.