Struggling and lower income Nebraska families can get help from a number of public assistance programs. Resources are focused on the unemployed, senior citizens, low income, and people that are faced with a crisis situation. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is the organization that administers the services, and they work closely with your county DHHS office and other regional non-profits.
The two leading food assistance programs are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) as well as CSFP. Both are focused on raising the nutrition levels of low income families, children, infants and the elderly.
SNAP, which is short for the federal government funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps low-income individuals buy food and groceries for their families, and it is the nations and Nebraska‘s largest public assistance program. While it is not necessary to be receiving other public aid in order to be eligible for food stamps, people will not receive SNAP vouchers and benefits automatically. Individuals will need to apply, meet requirements, and be found eligible.
Those households in Nebraska that meet the program guidelines for assets and household income will receive SNAP cash benefits and the debit card for free. The definition of a household is wide ranging, and it can be one person or a group of people who purchase and prepare meals together as a unit. Families who enroll will be provided with a Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This is what people will shop with, and it is a plastic card similar to a debit card. This care provided by SNAP is used to buy food, groceries, and certain meals at authorized grocery stores and supermarkets.
The second main public food program is Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP. This is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. It provides the state of Nebraska with food and groceries that are purchased and distributed by the USDA to a number of cities and towns. Aid is prioritized for children from age one up to the sixth birthday, infants and babies up to the 12th month of age, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. CSFP can also provide free food and resources to senior citizens and the elderly.
Another option is the Health and Human Services Department WIC program, also sometimes called Healthy Kids Strong Parents. WIC is another publicly funded nutrition program that helps pregnant women, infants, new mothers, and young children eat well, stay healthy, and learn about nutrition. There are several ways it accomplishes this goal.
WIC offers Nebraska families with checks to buy healthy food; breastfeeding education and support; personalized nutrition information and support; cash assistance for groceries; tips for eating well to improve health; and referrals for services and to local non-profits that can benefit the whole family.
Medical bill assistance is provided by the Nebraska Medicaid Program. This federal government program, which is partly funded by the state, pays for covered medical services and medications for those persons who are unable to afford to pay for their own health care and medically necessary services. Applicants need to meet certain eligibility requirements. The Nebraska Medicaid program is used to help with medical bills and is funded in partnership by the state and federal government.
Child care assistance is also coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The public government program can help with paying the cost of child care by offering vouchers or a child care subsidy. Aid is only offered for parents who are employed; Going to medical or counseling appointments for yourself or another child; attending school (college) or job training sessions; or who are undergoing a serious medical condition and are incapacitated, which must be verified by your physician or doctor. Learn more.
The Emergency Cash Assistance Program is a wide ranging public cash assistance program. It provides money and/or other services for paying bills and expenses. Funds and grants are for needy children and other household members when there’s a crisis situation. Find more details.
Heating and utility bill assistance is offered from the Nebraska Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. This federal government funded program helps people with limited incomes, seniors, and others pay the cost of heating and cooling their homes. The LIHEAP program will partially pay the cost of different types of utilities, including electricity, fuel oil, gas, coal, wood, propane, kerosene or other fuel source. It is also offered along with weatherization, which is the main public program for energy conservation. Click here for additional energy programs in Nebraska.
Employment First is the state of Nebraska's welfare reform program. Among other things it provides short term cash assistance and public aid, it helps families achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment preparation, job training, and education. Basically Employment First assists individuals through the transition from welfare to the workforce, and helps them increase their income.
Nebraska Homeless Assistance Program (NHAP) addresses the needs of people who are near homeless, way behind on rent, or who are currently homeless in Nebraska. It offers a so called "Continuum of Care" approach. This means it provides temporary and/or permanent housing for persons who are homeless; assists in the alleviation of homelessness; and also encourages the development of projects that link local and regional housing and rent assistance programs with efforts to promote self-sufficiency.
One of the main federal government cash benefit programs in Nebraska is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It can guarantee a minimum monthly income to people who have limited incomes, are either 65 or older, disabled, or blind. It is operated by the Social Security Administration in close partnership with DHHS. The amount of SSI benefits are based on the individual’s need.
Call the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department at 402-471-3121 for information on these or other government assistance programs.
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