Many states also run food banks where you can get food for your family. Check your state’s website to see what is available in your community and to find out if you need to make an appointment to visit the food bank.
To learn about all the food assistance programs that may be available to you and your family, read How To Get Food Help from the United States Department of Agriculture.
By Carolyn L. Bird, Ph.D., USDA eXtension’s Financial Security for All Community of Practice Leadership Team Member
What is SNAP?
SNAP is the short name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) operated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The SNAP program has the twin goals of improving health by combating hunger and increasing nutrition knowledge for better food choices.
Am I eligible?
SNAP eligibility guidelines have been expanded. The income thresholds have been increased and now more people will qualify for benefits.
The guidelines concerning what you can own have changed too. You can own your home, a plot of land, and a vehicle and still qualify. And most retirement pensions are not counted when determining eligibility.
Some states have guidelines that allow assets above the federal minimum guidelines. You can use the SNAP Pre-screening tool to determine if you may be eligible.
How Much Will I Receive?
The amount of SNAP benefits you receive will be determined by your state’s local administering organization, such as the Department of Social Services. Your specific information, such as the number of people in your family, your income, and other factors will be used to determine benefit amount.
You might be surprised to see how much difference even a minimal benefit amount can make in your family’s ability to eat healthy. The MoreFood.org website’s “Sweet $16” offers a variety of fun and smart ways to maximize SNAP benefits. And remember, each menu or recipe represents one month only and SNAP benefits are received each month!
Why Should I Apply?
While the average benefit amount will vary from state to state, SNAP benefits can make a real difference in your efforts to have a healthy diet for you and your family. But the main reason that people should apply is because SNAP can be an important resource in helping you and your family to have enough food to eat. SNAP benefits:
are on-going, long-term assistance rather than emergency or day-to-day assistance. This means you can plan meals in advance.
allow you to purchase and consume the foods that you prefer to eat, rather than what’s being served at a meal site or what’s in stock at the food pantry.
give you the flexibility to shop at any store that accepts these benefits, rather than being limited to a nearby pantry.
can be used at many farmers’ markets to buy fresh produce for your family and to support your local farmers.
assist you in meeting your other household expenses. By spending SNAP benefits on groceries, you can shift your budgeted grocery dollars to other uses.
generate economic activity in your community, every $5 in SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in community spending. And SNAP spending generates farm jobs.
allow agencies that provide emergency food services to focus their efforts on helping people without any other ways to obtain food. By using SNAP benefits you help yourself, and in turn help these agencies maintain their capacity to help others – especially during these tough economic times when need is so high, and agency funding and resources are so limited.
How Do I Apply?
To apply for benefits, contact your local SNAP or Department of Social Services office. Or you can use USDA’s national map to find the SNAP office for your county.
For some states you can apply online. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to go to the SNAP office. You may be able to download an application from your state agency’s website to mail in or you may be able to call your agency to request that an application be mailed to you. In some states, you can request to have a telephone interview with the SNAP representative.
How Long Does It Take For Benefits to Start?
Ask your local SNAP office about their standard processing time. In some states your SNAP application will be processed within 30 days; or, if it’s an emergency, within 7 days. Your local SNAP office can give you the most current information about regular and emergency application processing times.
Learn the Difference Between Government Grants and Loans and Get Assistance
When you’re looking for financial assistance, government grants and loans may be able to help.
There are differences between grants and loans. You are required to pay back a loan, often with interest. You are not required to pay back a grant, but there are very few grants available to individuals. Most grants are awarded to universities, researchers, cities, states, counties, and non-profit organizations.
Benefits.gov can help you identify grants or loans you may be eligible for and tell you how and where to apply.
Four Reasons to Visit Your Local Library This Summer
You don’t have to be outdoors to have a fun summer. In fact, some of the most gratifying and enriching activities might happen within the four walls of one of our country’s 123,000 public libraries.
It’s easy to see why. Libraries offer an easy, accessible and low cost way to read books and magazines, watch videos and learn about new worlds in several languages, and enjoy a wide range of cultural events such as concerts and art exhibitions.
To receive all the benefits of a public library, you need a library card, which you can get for free at your local branch. So if you’re thinking of what to do this summer, consider these four reasons why you should visit a public library. You might be surprised!
1) Digital books. Libraries have adapted to changes in technology, and today many offer e-books which you can borrow for a certain time free of charge. You can check out e-books the same way as you do regular books, except you need an electronic device (e-reader). Some libraries even lend out e-book readers—check with your local library to see if an electronic reader is available for use. Besides print and digital books, you can also download audio books, music and videos at some libraries. Since many libraries have their own websites, you can access many of their services online from the comfort of your home.
2) Information in many languages. Generally speaking, public libraries have books in several languages. Be sure to check out the vast collections of books, magazines and music in languages other than English for adults and children. Some libraries even offer language classes or tutors for students which is especially useful for those who plan to attend summer school. You can also find books and CDs to improve English speaking and writing skills. Who would’ve thought that libraries could be a great place to learn another language!
3) Programs and events for the whole family. You don’t have to read a book to experience art and culture at your library. Many public libraries sponsor and organize different types of programs and cultural events, such as concerts, and photography and film exhibitions. Lots of libraries offer special summer programs for people of all ages, including computer classes, storytelling for children, fun and educational games, as well has reading activities, and more.
4) Specialized resources. For many people, the Internet is not a luxury but a necessity. Public libraries often have a computer room for people who do not have computers or Internet access at home – or for those who just want to browse the web in a relaxed atmosphere where they can concentrate. Libraries also have highly skilled professionals that can help you find what you’re looking for or recommend books and resources for practically anything – including the answer to the question “how long does summer last?”
Libraries offer many more services, including bookmobiles, computer classes and job search databases. To find a public library near you use the government’s public library locator.
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency from a dishonest for-profit firm that embezzles clients’ money, charges excessively high fees, and/or keeps clients’ initial payments instead of prorating them among their clients’ creditors. This is especially true when for-profit firms use words like “service” or “foundation” in their company name.
You can distinguish a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency by:
Asking if it receives funding from a local United Way or similar organization
Checking if it is state-licensed (in states that license credit counselors)
Declaring personal bankruptcy is often a last resort option for debt management. If you declare bankruptcy, you are granted a court order saying you don’t have to pay off certain debts.
However, the effects of filing for bankruptcy are long-lasting. It stays on your credit report for 10 years and can make it hard to get a line of credit, buy a home, or sometimes even get a job.
The U.S. Courts put together a video series explaining the bankruptcy process, the relief it offers and how to find legal help you might need. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, these videos could help you understand what’s involved.
On Saturday, the Naval Observatory will add a “leap second” to the world’s clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This corresponds to 7:59:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
Time, including seconds, has historically been defined by the rotation of the Earth around other objects in space. The invention of atomic clocks allowed us to more precisely define time.
In 1970, an international agreement established two timescales: one based on the rotation of the Earth and one on the atomic clock. These timescales are not exactly the same so extra seconds are added or removed to keep them within 0.9 seconds of each other. Saturday’s “leap second” will help sync the two timescales.
The Naval Observatory and National Institute of Standards and Technology are responsible for determining the time in the United States.
Today the Supreme Court released its decision on the health care law, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Read the decision. (PDF)
Healthcare.gov has information about how the law affects you. You can read the law, learn about key features of the law, and see a timeline of what will change and when. Learn more about the health care law.
How to Find a Trusted Credit Counseling Agency Near You
Did you know credit counseling agencies can help you create a plan to tackle your debt and rebuild your credit?
You can find a trusted credit counseling agency near you to discuss your financial options, but remember, no one can remove negative information from your credit report. Companies that offer to do this are often running scams.
The only way to repair your credit is to consistently make your payments on time.
However, if there is an error on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the major credit agencies to have the information removed.
Checking out something I received in the mail. It’s from Home Information Center, Dallas Tx 75380-9664. It said that the U.S. Congress has made available up to $20,000 for you to improve your home through the Federal Home Improvement Loan Program. This program is made available for energy conservation with home improvements. Improvements may include lifetime vinyl siding, energy-efficiant windows ,doors, and insulation. Is this for real or a scam?
There is no such thing as a quick and easy way to get out of debt, but there are realistic steps you can take to get debt under control.
Develop a budget: Assess how much money you make and how much you spend. Writing down all your expenses is an easy way to get a realistic picture of where your money goes. Your goal should be to make sure you can pay for the essentials, like food and shelter, with enough left over to tackle your bills.
Contact your creditors: If you’re having trouble making payments, you may be able to work out a modified payment plan with your creditors. Let them know right away if you’re struggling before the accounts get turned over to debt collectors. If your accounts do get turned over to debt collectors, this video from the Federal Trade Commission can help you understand your rights.
Look into debt relief services: Credit counseling could help you set up a plan to pay off your debts. Even though many credit counseling groups are nonprofits, their services aren’t necessarily free.
How to Get Help if You or Someone You Know is Homeless
If you or someone you know is homeless, contact your local homeless assistance agency to get help. These agencies can help you find temporary or permanent housing options, as well as connect you with local food banks and health care programs.
Each year, about one in six Americans gets sick from food poisoning. Although most will recover without any lasting problems, some types of food poisoning can lead to kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and even death.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with help from the American Library Association, presents its 25th annual Summer Booklist for grade K-3, 4-6, and 7-8. All of the books meet the standard of having “lasting value.”
Law Grants Automatic Citizenship to Some Children Born Abroad
Most U.S. citizens acquire citizenship by being born in the U.S., or through a process called naturalization. However, there are certain people born abroad who can acquire citizenship automatically.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 grants automatic citizenship to the biological and adopted children of parents who are U.S. citizens.
How to Get Automatic Citizenship
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 generally benefits children who were born outside the United States, are under 18 years of age and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
To qualify for automatic U.S. citizenship, a child must:
Meet the definition of “child” under immigration law.
Be under 18 years of age.
Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization.
Reside in the United States under the legal and physical custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Be a lawful permanent resident.
If the child is legally adopted, he or she must meet all adoption requirements under immigration law.
“Because citizenship law has changed over the years, if the person is now over 18 years of age, USCIS looks to the relevant law that was in effect before the child turned 18 to decide if the person acquired U.S. citizenship,” said Mariana Gitomer, an officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How to Prove You Are a Citizen
A qualified child does not need to file an application to establish U.S. citizenship, but the child will need a certificate of citizenship, which can be obtained by filing form N-600. This will ensure that all the requirements for citizenship have been met.
Once the form has been filed, an immigration officer will determine if an interview is necessary. If so, the applicant must meet with an officer and bring:
All original documents of the copies submitted when filing form N-600.
Any additional documents that will establish if the child qualifies for citizenship.
Certified translation of documents not originally in English.
How to Get More Information
These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit www.uscis.gov.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”—
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, announcing a new policy to defer deportations and grant work permits for some younger undocumented immigrants.
Once you’re retired, you’ll need to maintain 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to continue your current quality of life. That’s not always easy to do. Meanwhile, it’s possible that you’ll be retired for a long time, maybe 20 years or more, because life expectancies are getting longer.
In other words, retirement is expensive.
So in order to retire comfortably, you have to save for it. Because of how investments have historically performed over long periods of time, a little bit saved now can be worth a lot more in the future.