New USDA Guidelines Clarify SNAP Eligibility for Homeless Youth

The United States Department of Agriculture has released new guidelines aimed at ensuring that eligible homeless youth can get food through the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The guidance clarifies when homeless youth can apply and what documents they need to have.

“Our Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees often help youth navigate the many types of federal assistance available to them,” says Resa Matthew, director of the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Division of Adolescent Development and Support. “USDA’s timely guidance will ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth and their advocates understand their rights.”

Among the clarifications the USDA made:

  1. Youth do not need to have a photo ID or a permanent address to apply for SNAP.
  2. If they are younger than 18 and living on their own, youth can apply for SNAP on their own. They do not have to apply as part of their parent's “household.”
  3. If youth are staying temporarily with others, they can apply independently if they purchase and prepare their own food. They can also apply as part of the household in which they are staying if they purchase and prepare food together.

Read the USDA’s policy memo, “SNAP- Clarification of Policies Barriers Facing Homeless Youth” (PDF, 50.7KB). More information about food assistance can be found on the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth’s food and nutrition page.