How Does SNAP Work? A Look at the Program & Resources

Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline


SNAP isn’t just “food stamps,” it’s so much more!

Sign in grocery store advertises that they take SNAP.
Sign in grocery store advertises that they take SNAP.

You might have a friend or co-worker who uses it. Your family might have used it when you were growing up. You might have seen  one of Project Bread’s billboards or advertisements. However you came to be acquainted with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), chances are that you have some questions about how it works and the kind of resources the program provides. 

Let’s take a look at what SNAP is and why it continues to be one of the best programs for helping eligible individuals and families with low-incomes to access the food they need, every day.

What is SNAP?

SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program that provides benefits to families, seniors, and other individuals with low-incomes, as well as people with disabilities living on fixed incomes. Once someone is enrolled in SNAP, an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card is issued to them and they can use it like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores. Each month the card is reloaded with benefits. How much you receive depends on your particular situation.

Man shopping with son and daughter in the supermarket.
Man shopping with son and daughter in the supermarket.

Determining whether you’re eligible to enroll in SNAP isn’t a difficult process, but it’s best done by calling one of our phone counselors at 1.800.645.8333 or using the Live Chat feature below to speak to a counselor now. Both absolutely free, and our counselors are experts in the program and have the most up to date information. They can also help you fill out the application if it’s determined that you’re eligible. We can talk to anyone in 180 different languages, and the hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8AM to 7PM, and Saturday from 10AM to 2PM.

But Wait, There's More!

Even though the heart of SNAP is the EBT card used to purchase food, the program offers other benefits that are also helpful for those with low incomes, including:




  • HEALTHY INCENTIVES PROGRAM (HIP) - When you use your SNAP benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmers markets, farm stands, or mobile markets, whatever you spend is automatically added back to your EBT card (up to your monthly limit). For more information on HIP visit


  • FREE SCHOOL MEALS - If you receive SNAP then your children will get free school meals! Alternatively, if one of your children receives SNAP, then all of your child will get free school meals. 


  • WOMEN INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC) - If you receive SNAP and are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a child under the age of 5 you may be able to receive WIC nutrition benefits without having to prove eligibility. For more information on WIC visit


  • SNAP CARD TO RIDE PROGRAM - The Boston area bike share program called Bluebikes offers SNAP users over 16 years old a monthly membership for $5 or a yearly membership for $50. For more information on Bluebikes visit


  • EBT CARD TO CULTURE - Showing your EBT card at participating organizations like museums and other cultural institutions can get you a discount on admission. For more information on EBT Card to Culture, including a list of participating organizations, visit

There you have it. SNAP is so much more than just “food stamps.” It’s a program designed to help in lots of ways.

Remember, the best way to get support and apply for SNAP benefits is to contact our hotline counselors by calling 1.800.645.8333 or using the Live Chat feature below to speak to a counselor now.

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Project Bread is an official SNAP Outreach Partner of The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

As a SNAP Outreach Partner of DTA, Project Bread's role is to make it easier for people in Massachusetts to get SNAP and help anyone having trouble applying.