We put this in a cut to remain courteous to others, because this entry is a little long.
What is an EBT card?
It's basically a card that'll help you pay for groceries. You can buy anything in a store you want with it, save for non-food items, medicine, alcohol, tobacco.. just basically anything you can't eat. I believe energy drinks are also excluded from purchases.
How long can I use this?
Your financial situation is reevaluated at your local DHS office every six months. Please remember this card is a temporary situation, and that you aren't meant to rely on it forever. In other words, this is for the needy, not the greedy.
DHS? What's that?
Department of Human Services. They distribute EBT cards as well as other stuff.
How do you get to DHS? What's the process?
I'll take you through the steps and also give some advice. If you have more questions, probably other WSU students will be able to point you in the right direction; many have used this card and can attest to its benefits.
1. Lurk and then lurk moar.Click the link and read up on how to do things, read up on policies, and look over the forms you'll have to fill out. Know the procedures before you apply, this is going to save you from asking questions later.
2. Call the office to make sure they're open before you actually go up there. ALWAYS. I think they're closed to new applicants on Wednesdays, call to make sure.
3. Before you go, gather these things:
* Social Security Numbers for everyone in the household, if they have them
* Income (current or date it stopped)
* Application or receipt of unemployment benefits (UB)
* Assets (e.g., bank account statements, 401k and other investment account balances, investment accounts, trust funds, etc.)
* Shelter expenses (e.g., rent receipt, mortgage payment, property tax bill, home owner insurance, heat, electric, phone, water, etc.)
* Child support paid
* Day care expenses
* Medical or Health insurance card
* Medical bills, unpaid
* Shut-off notices for shelter, heat or utilities
* Alien/Immigration status
* Marriage Certificate
* Divorce Decree
* Paternity Acknowledgement
* Pregnancy, expected date of delivery and number of children expected
4. Go to the right DHS office.
I can't stress how frustrating it is to go to an office, get in line, and then when you get there, find out you can't be seen because you have to go to ANOTHER DHS office on the other side of town. Look up on the website what office will service your zip code, then go to that one. Also...
5. Get there before 11am.
They have a cutoff time for interviews, so get there early. Bring a book or your homework. Expect a lot of waiting, you'll be there for quite a while.
6. There WILL be babies crying. Get used to it.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
7. If you need food right away, you won't get it--unless you beg.
The caseworker will not grant you anything right away save for a referral. Ask them if they can refer you to a place called Capuchin (go to the soup kitchen first and they will give you a ticket to get a pantry box at their distribution center). Capuchin service center distributes boxes of food and limited fresh goods to people who need it, twice a month. Evaluation of your food benefits can take up to thirty days, so be prepared for a lot of waiting.
8. If you get a referral and decide to go to Capuchin, call for directions or ask what bus goes by there. I accidentally gave the directions to where the distribution center is, so just call and ask them. They'll know what freeway/bus to take.
Again, this service is for the needy, not the greedy. Please be kind to others and don't use it if you don't have to.
9. Keep your caseworker's number handy, you never know what you might need or what problems may arise.
10. Your caseworker will give you a hard time.
They will make you do a song and dance for weeks at a time, giving you documents to take home and get verified by various people before turning everything in again. They will not care what you think about this.
That's really all the advice I have to offer. It's a long road out there for some us, and the path can be pretty narrow and bumpy. But through education, we'll prevail, and look to a day when we don't have to go through this anymore.
Please pass this knowledge on to someone who may need it. No one should ever go hungry.
I forgot to answer this question also: how much do food benefits give you?
For a single full time student, you get about 160 USD per month. With this you have the ability to change your diet if you were unable to make healthy choices earlier due to a budget restriction. I urge you to make wise choices and try new things, this is a time for you to expand your taste palette and eat healthy if you weren't already.
Eligibility--how do I find out if I can get EBT?
I was looking for this earlier but they've got this well-hidden:
"Michigan Assistance and Referral Service (MARS) can help you find out if you may be eligible for the programs offered by the State of Michigan. To find out if you may be eligible, click: MARS to begin the screening tool. "