Basic Food is Washington’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Basic Food provides monthly benefits to supplement grocery money while promoting healthy eating and reducing food insecurity. Benefits are automatically loaded onto an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card bi-monthly. EBT cards can be used to buy food at participating grocery stores. Each year the Basic Food program is allotted a certain amount of money based on the number of eligible households, so the program is accessible to everyone who qualifies.
What is Basic Food?
How to Apply
Other Benefits & FAQs
Our Basic Food Program
United General District 304 has coordinators qualified to pre-screen applicants as well as assist clients with their application process. We participate in community events and provide free education and information throughout Skagit County. Basic Food Program education and assistance are one of the many ways that United General District 304 helps community members access the nutrition, education, and support that is available to them.
Currently, we have Spanish-speaking staff to assist with applications. The application is available in Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese on this DSHS webpage.
It seems like I should be eligible but I’m not. Why am I not eligible?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T17:28:37+00:00
You may be eligible if you live in Washington State, have gross income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (see the income chart in the “Who Qualifies for Basic Food” section), and meet citizenship or alien status requirements.
I’m undocumented or a non-citizen, am I eligible?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T02:56:04+00:00
If you don’t have a permanent address, you may still qualify for Basic Food. You can use the address of an authorized representative as a place to receive mail. If you are staying at a shelter, you can still receive Basic Food even if the shelter provides meals. If you are under 18, homeless, and do not live with your parents or guardian, you can still receive Basic Food.
I’m a student, am I eligible?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T17:30:27+00:00
Any adult who is enrolled and taking at least six credits (half time) in an institution of higher education is ineligible to receive Basic Food unless they meet one of the exemptions (some listed below):
Are under 18 or over 50 years of age
Are employed and working at least 80 hours each month or average 20 hours per week.
Are self-employed and working an average of 20 hours each week and earn an amount at least equal to federal minimum wage.
Are responsible for at least half of the care for a dependent
Your household size is the number of people you share groceries, cook with, and eat meals together. If you live with housemates, but shop and prepare your meals separately, your housemates are not included in your Basic Food benefits. You should list them on your application, but check the box that says “exclude from benefits.”
What do I need before I start the application process?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:01:30+00:00
Firstly, our friendly, non-judgmental staff will work with you and your schedule to fill out the application over the phone. If you get disconnected or need to reschedule, we will accommodate and adjust. We will pre-screen you to determine if you are eligible before we start the application process, which can save you time and energy. We’ll also take the time to answer any questions you may have while we work through the application. Lastly, we can get you information on other programs you may qualify for such as WIC or our Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program.
I’ve applied, now what?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:03:41+00:00
Generally, Basic Food Applications are processed within 30 days. Depending on circumstances, some households may be eligible to receive basic food benefits within seven calendar days of DSHS receiving your application. Some conditions where you may qualify for expedited service:
If you have gross monthly income under $150 and have available liquid resources (cash, bank accounts, etc.) of $100 or less
If you are a migrant or seasonal farm worker household and have available liquid resources of $100 or less
I’m stuck on hold with DSHS – how do I get through?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T17:36:51+00:00
Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages at DSHS, it has been difficult for applicants to get through to DSHS and the wait times on the phone have been long. These tips can help you secure your interview faster:
Call in the morning right when they open at 8 a.m.
Avoid calling on Mondays
Avoid calling the day after a holiday
Avoid calling on the first and last week of each month
If you are able, try going in person to your local community services office, locations here.
When will my benefits start?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:05:56+00:00
You’ll receive benefits if your household is eligible based on your income. Basic Food benefits are certified for up to 12 months. Basic Food households must report when their income increases to over 130% of the federal poverty level. Households do not have to report any other income changes until the mid-certification review (6 months) or eligibility review (12 months). Households must also report any substantial lottery or gambling win. Report changes by the 10th of the following month after the change occurs. Income changes may reduce the Basic Food benefits you receive or disqualify you from benefits if you make over a certain amount.
What happens if I forget to report a change in income?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:07:24+00:00
If your income goes over the eligibility level, and you forget to report it for a couple of months, you may owe DSHS money back for the benefits you used that you were not eligible for. To avoid this, follow the rules and report any income changes by the 10th of the following month.
How much $ will I receive?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:08:11+00:00
The amount of Basic Food you can receive is based on how many people are in your household, your countable income, and monthly living expenses such as housing, utilities, child support, and medical costs. Maximum benefits are:
What can I buy with EBT?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:09:47+00:00
Most grocery items such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, breads, cereals, snack foods, dry and canned goods, and non-alcoholic beverages are available to buy with your Basic Food benefits. You can even buy seeds and plants that will produce food.
You CANNOT buy: alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals, hot foods, heated food, or cold prepared foods (deli), pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products, hygiene items, and cosmetics.
I’m having trouble using my EBT card.Hannah Jones2023-05-24T17:47:24+00:00
There is a comprehensive brochure with instructions and FAQs on using your EBT card on the DSHS forms page. You’ll find the brochure near the bottom of the page under Pamphlets. It is also known as Form 22-310.
Where can I spend my EBT?Hannah Jones2023-05-24T03:11:26+00:00
At more than 100 participating farmers markets and farm stands, customers who use Basic Food/EBT can withdraw EBT funds to use as well as receive SNAP market match to stretch their food budget to buy more fruits and vegetables.
Info booths will have an EBT card reader. You’ll specify the amount of Basic Food you want to withdraw, they will then give you EBT tokens for that amount plus SNAP market match bucks up to the maximum daily amount.
EBT tokens can be used for fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, seeds and plants that produce food, breads, cereals, dairy products, meat, eggs, and fish. Dried, canned, or frozen goods.
SNAP Market Match “dollars” can be redeemed for: fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and seeds and plants that produce food.
Some farms accept EBT for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. Locally, Viva Farms and Long Hearing Farm are among those that accept Basic Food benefits and offer discounts for Basic Food customers.