Disaster Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (Disaster Food Stamps)

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid

What is the Disaster Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program?

This program is also called disaster food stamps.  Those hurt by the disaster may be able to receive disaster food stamps to help them buy food after the disaster.  The program lets people already receiving food stamps get food stamps to replace the food they lost during the disaster.  It also allows people not usually eligible for food stamps to receive one month of food stamps to help replace the food they lost in a disaster.  The food stamps come on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and can be used like a debit or credit card to buy groceries.  This program begins with a presidentially declared disaster with individual assistance available.

Who is eligible for Disaster Food Stamps?

People already receiving food stamps before the disaster can receive disaster food stamps to buy new food to replace what was lost during the disaster.  If they need more help due to disaster expenses or  loss of income from the disaster, they can apply for supplemental food assistance.  The amount they receive in disaster food stamps and supplemental assistance will be capped at the maximum amount allowed for a household of their size.  Disaster food stamps and supplemental food stamps are for one month of food assistance.  After that month, they will receive the amount of food stamps that they qualify for under the traditional food stamp program.

People who are over income for food stamps before the disaster can be eligible for disaster food stamps.  They are eligible if they had a lot of expenses because they had to repair their home, had to move to a new location, or lost their job due to the disaster.  They will be eligible for one month of disaster food stamps.  The State of Iowa recommends that everyone who was affected by the disaster apply for disaster food stamps to see if they are eligible.

How do I apply for Disaster Food Stamps?

There is a special disaster application for this program.  Applications will only be taken for a limited time.  You apply through the Iowa Department of Human Services.  You can apply for disaster food stamps in person at the nearest Disaster Recovery Center or at any Department of Health and Human Service office in Iowa.  You can also call 1-800-972-2017 to find out if there are other locations or if the application is available online.

What can I buy with an EBT card?

An EBT card can be used to buy food products such as bread, fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products. You cannot use an EBT card to purchase alcohol, drugs, and other nonfood items (such as soap).

What if I am denied Disaster Food Stamps?

You have a right to appeal.  Your appeal can be made verbally or in writing.  The appeal must be made within 90 days from the date on the decision.

What if I lost my EBT card in the disaster?

You can call 1-877-937-3663 to ask for a new card.

Can I use my Iowa EBT card in another state?

Yes.  The card is good anywhere in the United States.

What if I need more help?

·       Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 

·       To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:

o   call 800-532-1275

o   Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161


o   apply online at iowalegalaid.org

·       If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, you can look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website – iowabar.org.   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.

Last Review and Update: Sep 29, 2022
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