Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Manual – Table of Contents

1135.005.30 Homeless Meal Providers

IM-#7 January 7, 2008,  IM-#93 September 16, 2004,  IM-#53 March 23, 2000

Public or private non-profit organizations serving meals to the homeless residents or non-residents may be authorized through FNS to accept Food Stamp benefits from homeless participants. The benefits can be used to purchase food from authorized retailers and wholesalers.

Refer any homeless meal provider requesting FNS authorization to the FNS field office serving the appropriate county.

In order to be approved, the meal provider must:

  • apply with the appropriate FNS field office;
  • provide FNS with a letter from the local county office verifying that the establishment does serve meals to the homeless (the County Manager or designee conducts a brief on-site visit to verify this information); and
  • provide FNS with any other needed verification for eligibility, such as non-profit status.

Certain restrictions apply to homeless meal providers. They must:

  • not serve as authorized representatives for those participants for whom they provide meals,
  • only accept voluntary donations from Food Stamp participants,
  • not give cash change or credit slips to participants,
  • include food purchased by the meal provider (meals served must not consist entirely of donated foods), and
  • provide homeless individuals receiving Food Stamp benefits the same options in paying for meals as non-Food Stamp individuals (the amount of benefits requested from homeless Food Stamp participants may not exceed the average cost of the food contained in a meal).
    NOTE: FNS field office staff are responsible for informing the provider of restrictions applying to participation as a meal provider. However, if county staff become aware that an authorized establishment stops serving meals to the homeless or otherwise becomes ineligible for homeless meal provider status, inform the local FNS field office.

NOTE: An individual residing in a homeless shelter can receive Food Stamp benefits even if the homeless shelter is not approved by FNS. However, they cannot use the benefits to purchase meals from the shelter unless the shelter has been approved by FNS.

If the homeless individual does not stay in a shelter and does not have a permanent address, use living arrangement code HL. This living arrangement code allows multiple supercases at the same address. Enter a description of where the individual stays as the supercase residential address (i.e. under the I -70 bridge, etc.). If the individual has a mailing address, enter the mailing address on the Person Detail (FM0I) screen for that individual.

If the homeless individual stays in the shelter, use living arrangement code HS. This living arrangement code allows multiple supercases at the same address. Enter the Shelter’s address as the supercase/residential address. If the individual has a mailing address other than the shelter address, enter the mailing address on Person Detail (FM0I) screen for that individual.