Get a Free Tablet with Food Stamps 2024 (Guide)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, helps provide food security for millions of low-income individuals and families across the United States. In recent years, technology has become increasingly important for accessing essential services, information, job opportunities, and more. This has led some states to offer free internet service and devices, like tablets, to SNAP recipients in an effort to bridge the “digital divide”.

Free Tablet with Food Stamp

Determine your eligibility for SNAP benefits

To get a free tablet through SNAP, you must first qualify for SNAP benefits. Here are the basic eligibility rules:

Income requirements

Your household’s gross monthly income must be at or below 130% of the federal poverty line. This equates to $1,383 per month for a single-person household or $2,829 per month for a 4-person family in 2024. Your state may have different income thresholds.

Resource limits

The total value of your household’s “countable resources” cannot exceed $2,500 if your household includes at least one disabled person or a person age 60 or older. If you meet this criteria, your resource limit increases to $3,750. For all other households, the resource limit is $2,000. Countable resources include cash, savings, and investments.

Submit an application

Once you’ve confirmed you meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll need to submit an application, typically to your state or local social services office. Here’s what to expect:

Application process

  • Obtain an application: Online, by phone, mail, or in person
  • Provide required documentation: Proof of identity, immigration status, income, resources, expenses
  • Complete an interview: By phone or in-person to review your application

After submitting your paperwork, your state agency will determine if you qualify within 30 days. If approved, you’ll receive an EBT card to purchase eligible food items.

Check if your state offers free tablets

Currently, a handful of states operate tablet incentive programs using federal SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) grants. These states include Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin. Here’s a breakdown of each state’s tablet program:

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Arizona

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with children under 18
  • What’s offered? Free refurbished computer, internet service

Illinois

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with school-aged children
  • What’s offered? Free computer tablet

North Carolina

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with school-aged children
  • What’s offered? Free computer tablet

Ohio

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with school-aged children
  • What’s offered? Free Amazon Fire 7 tablet

Utah

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with school-aged children
  • What’s offered? Free computer tablet

Wisconsin

  • Who qualifies? SNAP households with children under 18
  • What’s offered? Free computer tablet

As you can see, most states focus tablet incentives on SNAP households with school-aged children to promote access for education. Check your state SNAP agency’s website for the latest on availability.

Order your free tablet

If eligible, ordering your free tablet will differ by state but typically involves:

Verify your SNAP participation

You’ll need to provide documentation that someone in your household currently receives SNAP benefits. This might include an EBT card, award letter, or case number.

Submit application materials

Depending on the state, you may need to submit an additional application, consent forms, etc. to receive the free tablet.

Agree to terms of use

All states require agreeing to appropriate and legal use of the provided devices/internet access before distributing tablets.

Pick up your tablet

Tablet distribution varies. You may need to pick it up from your local social services office, job center, nonprofit organization, or other designated location. Be sure to follow your state’s specific guidance to place your order successfully.

Overcome barriers

Even in states offering free tablets for SNAP recipients, you may encounter difficulties accessing this benefit. Here are some tips to overcome barriers:

Lack of funding

Tablet programs rely on limited state and federal funding streams. If funding runs out, waitlists form. Consider checking back periodically.

Device restrictions

Many free tablet programs limit how many tablets each household can claim, often only 1 per family. Priority goes to those with school-aged children.

Bureaucracy

Navigating government bureaucracy can be challenging. Ask local nonprofits if they offer application assistance or translations if language is an issue.

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Stigma

The stigma around SNAP prevents many from applying. However, these benefits exist to help. Do not feel ashamed to claim resources designed to help boost self-sufficiency. While red tape happens, tablet incentive programs aim to bridge inequities. Patience and persistence will pay off in gaining this valuable tool.

Make the most of your device

Once you’ve received your free tablet, it’s time to start putting it to use improving your life. Here are constructive ways SNAP households can use their new tablets:

Assist with education

Clear priority #1 is helping school-aged children learn remotely via virtual classrooms and expand knowledge outside the classroom through safe, educational apps and programs.

Enhance employability

Tablets open up a world of opportunity to develop workforce skills online, search and apply for jobs, communicate with employers digitally, and upgrade qualifications through continuing education.

Facilitate entrepreneurship

Owning a tablet equipped with productivity software allows SNAP recipients to start side businesses like selling homemade crafts online to supplement their income and gain financial flexibility.

Access important services

Stay connected to critical health and government resources with a tablet. This access empowers users to manage healthcare, required paperwork, appointments, SNAP accounts, and other services through official sites and portals. Leveraging your free tablet promotes personal growth and paths out of poverty. Strive to use it intentionally each day.

Troubleshooting common issues

Despite best intentions, you may encounter some tech troubles with your tablet. Try these troubleshooting tips before panicking or giving up:

Slow internet

If web pages load slowly, try moving your device closer to the wifi router or rebooting it to refresh connection speeds. Avoid using the tablet for streaming during high-traffic times.

Battery drains quickly

To extend battery charge, adjust screen brightness, turn off Bluetooth/wifi when unused for long periods, close unused apps/browser tabs, and avoid exposing your device to extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Storage full

Carefully review and delete unnecessary apps, photos, downloads, and cache to open up storage space. Transfer files to the cloud or external hard drive to create more room.

Screen cracked

Order an inexpensive screen protector and protective case to prevent future cracks and damage. If currently cracked, reach out to the device provider to explore potential replacement options.

Malware concerns

Only download apps from trusted sources like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Install antivirus software, avoid suspicious links, and keep the operating system updated to prevent malware issues. With proper handling, free tablets can sustain SNAP households for years. Remember to utilize common sense precautions and digital literacy skills.

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Final Thoughts

Gaining access to vital technology helps move families beyond food insecurity. SNAP’s tablet incentive program directly combats modern barriers blocking disadvantaged groups from healthcare, jobs, education, and essential services by providing this critical tool. Qualifying households no longer must choose between food or internet both enable basic survival needs in today’s online-driven society. Maximizing these resources promotes immense socio-economic mobility opportunities. Hopefully as the digital divide conversation intensifies, more states will fund free tablet programs for SNAP recipients focused on crossing the divide.

FAQs

Can anyone on SNAP get a free tablet?

No, tablet incentive programs currently only exist in Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin. Even then, most states restrict eligibility to SNAP households with school-aged children, not all recipients universally. Check your state’s SNAP website for details.

What options exist for free internet access?

Some tablet incentive programs bundle internet access plans with the free devices. Beyond that, resources like EveryoneOn.org help SNAP recipients locate low-cost internet offers from major providers across the country to pair with the tablets.

Is technical support provided with free tablets?

Support resources differ widely. Some states offer help hotlines for troubleshooting questions and repairs. Most others distribute tablets with included manuals and tip sheets. At minimum, all provide guidance to safely factory reset devices before redistributing to new families.

Can I upgrade to a better tablet model for free?

Unfortunately, no. Free tablet incentive programs rely on bulk donations or budget-priced refurbished models to make the numbers work. Requests for upgrades generally cannot be accommodated. Simply appreciate the opportunity to access any connected device.

What happens if my tablet breaks?

Always handle these free devices carefully since replacement availability varies. Some programs permit a warranty period or may substitute new tablets if lightly used models get returned upon exiting SNAP. Take advantage of cases and screen protectors to maximize durability.

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