Arizona Food Access Programs
Arizona has several food assistance programs to help your family afford a healthier diet. The programs listed below also have options for Arizonans to purchase local fruits and vegetables from farmers markets. You can find a complete list of programs here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers SNAP at the Federal level through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). In 2008, the U.S. Congress changed the name of the Food Stamp Program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This new name better reflects the goal of the program: to help provide healthy food to low-income families with children and vulnerable adults. Simply put, SNAP helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health.
Locally, SNAP is administered through the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), which determines eligibility and allotments, and distribution of benefits.
To reduce the stigma associated with traditional food stamps, SNAP benefits are provided on an electronic benefit card (EBT) that is used like an ATM or debit card and accepted at most grocery stores and many farmers’ markets. Through various nutrition education partners, SNAP also helps clients learn to make healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.
The USDA establishes eligibility requirements for SNAP. Eligibility is based on your household’s resources, income and other requirements such as residence, citizenship or qualified non-citizen status, and cooperation with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Employment & Training program. To see if you may qualify, use the benefits estimator at www.arizonaselfhelp.org. Even you are unsure whether you qualify, you should still apply.
SNAP at the Farmers Market
Use your SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets for fresh produce, eggs, honey, bread, jams, jellies and even plants and seeds that produce food!
Visit the info booth at the market to find out how to pay with your SNAP EBT card.
***Arizona Farmers and Farmers Markets interested in accepting SNAP benefits as a form of payment, can follow a manual and checklists developed by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Open or download here.
The Arizona Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutrition education and breastfeeding support services, supplemental nutritious foods and referrals to health and social services. WIC serves pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women; infants; and children under the age of five who are determined to be at nutritional risk. The WIC Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Motherhood is one big job. Choosing healthy foods while pregnant, learning how to breastfeed, finding the right doctors for yourself and your children, and getting those kids ready to learn in school really does take a lot. For the last 40 years, WIC has provided all that support and more to mothers and families.
WIC is a free nutrition and Breastfeeding Program. At WIC you will meet experts in nutrition for pregnancy, breastfeeding, infants, toddlers and preschoolers and receive personalized nutrition tips. WIC is a great place to find the breastfeeding information, support and resources that you need.
WIC staff will help you find important referrals to other community resources like places your child can receive immunizations. WIC also helps provide healthy foods for your family.
WIC at the Farmers Market
Farmers at the market with “Approved Grower” signs take FMNP as payment.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) is a federal program that provides nutritious meals to all school children at a no or minimal cost. Families may apply for the programs by submitting a Household Income Application, available at the school the child attends.
Many school districts are moving towards an online application for School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Click here to see if you district is participating–and if so–to apply online. If you do not see your school district listed, speak with the Food Service Director at your child’s school about using this online application.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. Under TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes commodity foods available to state distributing agencies.
Homeless people, low-income senior citizens, families, and individuals can benefit from the program through organizations like soup kitchens that provide prepared meals, or food banks/pantries that distribute food to individuals for household use.
Visit a TEFAP location. Food is provided in a variety of ways including dining rooms, food boxes and more.
Homeless people can receive prepared meals served in a congregate, or dining room, setting without income eligibility. Homeless people must meet state income eligibility requirements in order to receive TEFAP food that is not served in prepared meals.
Established in 1984, the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB) is a private, non-profit organization serving five regional food bank members and a network of nearly 1,200 food pantries and agencies. AAFB is one of the first state associations in the nation and an inaugural partner state association of Feeding America. AAFB was instrumental in the development of a statewide gleaning project, and our advocacy efforts have brought about beneficial state and federal legislation for our member food banks and the people they serve.
AAFB develops food resources, promotes nutrition, advocates for public policy changes to help hungry people, fosters cooperation among food banks, networks with government, local, state and national leaders dedicated to ending hunger, and engages all sectors of society in hunger awareness and sensitivity.
Find a Food Bank Near You
Before you visit an organization listed here, contact them to confirm hours of operation and determine eligibility requirements. You may need to bring proof of residency or other identification.