The state of Nebraska offers a wide variety of food assistance programs for those who qualify. Nebraska employs the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs to ensure that its citizens who may have lower incomes are able to provide a healthy diet for their household. Some programs are federally enforced, however, all Nebraska citizens and legal residents must apply through the state itself, not any federal agency. It should also be said that qualification or admission for one program does not guarantee qualification or enrollment in other food assistance programs within the state. Most programs base entrance into their programs on a person’s income, situation, household size and ability to work.
Nebraska has multiple programs so that food assistance may reach as many people in need as possible. Other special programs are offered that target aid towards expectant mothers, school-aged children and more. The following offers critical information about some of the food assistance programs offered through the state of Nebraska.
Nebraska Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Nebraska Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal food assistance program operated through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The program is designed to help low-income households purchase food.
Products that are not food items cannot be bought using the provided Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. These products include alcoholic products, pet food, tobacco, paper products and others. SNAP also limits the brands that can be purchased, but information detailing purchasable products is distributed to those who are given SNAP benefits.
Eligibility first requires that the applicant be a legal resident of the state. Additionally, an applicant’s income level will be based in relation to the amount of people living in the household. Those who wish to apply can fill out an application online using the AccessNebraska platform or can print the application out and deliver it to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services either by mail or in person.
Nebraska Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The Nebraska WIC Program provides education on nutrition, health care referrals and food to pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women with low incomes. The program also includes children up to five years of age who have been determined to be at nutritional risk without state assistance.
All applicants must be legal residents of Nebraska, then are required to be assessed by a health care professional at a WIC clinic to determine the applicant’s nutrition risk. If the health care provider determines the applicant is not at risk, he or she cannot be eligible for WIC benefits.
If the applicant benefits from or has household members who participate in benefit programs such as SNAP, Medicaid and others, then he or she automatically qualifies for WIC. Besides the health assessment, eligibility is determined based on yearly income in relation to household size.
Nebraska School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
Nebraska’s School Breakfast and Lunch Programs are federal programs designed to aid children of low-income houses to receive school lunches for free or for a reduced price. The aim is to ensure the health of the nation’s children by providing nutrition in these discounted or free meals.
Eligibility is determined by annual income in relation to household size. All applicants must be a resident of the state of Nebraska and a parent or legal guardian for the child or children who is in the twelfth grade or under. Applications are offered and submitted through the child’s school.
Nebraska Summer Food Service
Another federal food assistance program is the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, its aim is to provide free meals and snacks to children of low-income homes during the summer, when schools are closed and the school’s cafeterias are not in operation. During the summer the school cannot provide free or reduced-price lunches to children who qualify, so SFSP is the solution.
Eligibility requirements are the same as the qualifications for reduced-price or free school food during the academic school year. Applicants must be legal residents of Nebraska, then meet requirements concerning household size and yearly income.
Meals and snacks are provided to children in one location, usually a popular public place. Locations generally include schools, parks, community centers or camps.
Admission into the SFSP is not automatically rolled over from the school year reduced-price or free school meal plan. Those in need must apply for the summer program individually, and applicants can apply at the nearest SFSP site.
Nebraska Child & Adult Care Food Program
The Nebraska Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is designed to provide nutrition to children and adults in need and to teach healthy eating habits at a young age. The benefits of the program are provided to eligible people in child and adult care centers.
Those who can benefit include children through 12 years of age, children of migrants up to 15 years of age, physically and/or mentally handicapped people receiving care from an institution in which most attendees are 18 years of age or under and adults in nonresidential day cares.
All institutions who wish to be a part of CACPF must be licensed. They must also qualify for tax exemption or receive Title XX benefits for at least 25 percent of the institution’s licensed capacity or population.