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Project Bread SNAP Trainer: A Resource for Agencies

A curriculum for connecting low income families with healthy food

5: Prescreening for SNAP benefits

5.1 Why is prescreening important?


The prescreening process helps you determine which clients qualify for SNAP and at what estimated benefit level. Open this section to learn more about why prescreening matters.

Prescreening helps you sort out your client’s eligibility for SNAP benefits before applying to DTA. Specifically, prescreening does two things:

First, for eligible clients, knowing the estimated benefit amount can serve as a motivator to complete the application process with DTA.

Second, if your prescreening determines that the client is not eligible, it saves everyone the time of completing an application and gathering the supporting documents.

For clients whose prescreen results in ineligibility, please call the FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 to check the results.

5.2 How do I prepare my client?


Setting expectations about confidentiality with your client makes the process easier for everyone. Open this section for some tips on working with your client.

Communication with your client is key!

Like most application processes, the SNAP application process requires asking your client many questions and sharing information. This information stays confidential.

Reassure your client that you and the DTA will respect that confidentiality. Making sure your client knows that personal information will be kept confidential builds trust.

Explain to your client why you are asking certain questions about income, immigration status, and household expenses. When your client understands the reason why you need to ask these questions, s/he will be more likely to give complete answers. This creates trust.

5.3 How do I do a prescreen?


Prescreening can be easy! Open this section to learn the options available.

There are three ways that you can conduct a prescreen.

Option 1: Use Project Bread’s online calculator to estimate eligibility
The online calculator, located at, is a helpful tool for prescreening. It takes about 10 minutes to go through the questions.

It has four steps in which you'll work with your client to answer questions about:

  1. The people in the household
  2. Immigration status for everyone in the household
  3. The household's assets (money in savings or checking account, stocks, bonds)
  4. The household's income (earned and unearned)
  5. The household's expenses (rent, mortgage, property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, child care, child support payments, etc)

It then estimates monthly SNAP benefits and lets you print an application for your client.

Before you begin, make sure that your client has gathered the appropriate information to answer the above questions.

Visit the calculator at:

Option 2: Call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline
If you would rather work directly on the phone, Project Bread runs a FoodSource Hotline with trained counselors who can work with you on prescreening a client or the client can call the hotline directly.

You can talk to a counselor by calling 1-800-645-8333.

The counselor will ask your client about the household’s income, expenses, and immigration status (for all members applying for benefits).

Option 3: Contact Project Bread if you are interested in learning how to complete a paper prescreening tool to calculate your client’s benefit level
The paper prescreening tool includes 15 steps that you and your client will complete together. Project Bread recommends that you attend an in-person training session that fully explains how to do the calculations. If you are interested in learning more, please call Project Bread at 617-723-5000 to identify the next available training session.

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The SNAP Trainer: A Resource for Agencies is a curriculum for connecting low income families with healthy food. Each chapter is accessible as a "Section". The sections are: