The Food Stamp program is designed to help meet the nutritional needs of people with low incomes. Food Stamp benefits are intended to purchase food items for the household and may not be used for items such as liquor, cigarettes, household supplies, or hot foods. Food Stamp allotments are determined on a quarterly basis utilizing income information received from the family.
Food Stamp benefits were previously issued in the form of coupons and could be redeemed like cash at most grocery stores. Federal Law requires that counties/states issue Food Stamp benefits via the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. The EBT program was implemented in Lake County on July 1, 2004. Food Stamp recipients are now issued an EBT card, similar to an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) card, instead of receiving food coupons. Food Stamp recipients are able to use the EBT cards at grocers and retailers throughout the State and across the country to purchase food. The Food Stamp account balance is automatically adjusted according to purchases. The EBT system increases security and reliability of benefits, modernizes benefit redemption and reduces stigma attached to purchases made with paper coupons.