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Food Stamp Program

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The 2008 Farm Bill described how the the bilingual regulations of the Food Stamp program have the same legal standing as if they were in the Food Stamp Act (FSA). These requirements are described in the Food Stamp LEP Checklist.

Federal Food Stamp Act (FSA) Protections                               

Section 11(e)(1)(B) of the Food Stamp Act requires the state agency to provide appropriate bilingual personnel and printed material in the administration of the Food Stamp Program.  When drafting Title IV of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Senate agricultural committee added Section 4209, A Codification of Access Rules, to address Almendares v. Palmer, No. 3:00-CV-7524, (N.D. Ohio Dec. 3,2002).

The Court in Almendares “reasoned that Congress enacted the statute, not the regulations, and that the statute does not provide to households with limited-English proficiency the right to appropriate bi-lingual services.” Section 4209 “amends section 11(e)(1)(B) of the Food Stamp Act to clarify that Congress did authorize the Department to issue regulations and intends that states comply with them.” Complete Senate Committee Report (PDF)

Section (e)(1) requires States to comply with the Food Stamp regulations requiring the use of appropriate bilingual personnel and materials. 7. U.S.C. 2020(e)(1)(B).  The FSA requires the state agency to “establish procedures governing the operation of food stamp offices that…best serve households in the State, including …areas in which a substantial number of members of low-income households speak a language other than English.” 7 U.S.C. § 2020 (e)(2)(A).

The bilingual regulations require state agency and local offices to provide appropriate translated written materials and bilingual staff and interpreters for limited English proficient (LEP) applicants and recipients of the Food Stamp program. See 7 C.F.R. § 272.4(b)(2),(3),(5),(6).  These regulations also require appropriate language assistance services at fair hearings. 7 C.F.R. § 273.15 (i)(1).

Food Stamp regulations also prohibit discrimination "against any applicant or participant in any aspect of program administration, including, but not limit to, the certification of households, the issuance of coupons, the conduct of fair hearings, or the conduct of any other program service for reasons of age, race, color, sex, handicap, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs.” 7 C.F.R. § 272.6 (a)

For More details about these requirements see this memo which is provided below. Also below is the Federal complaint procedure for the USDA.

New York Protections                                                              4

The following non-discrimination language is included on the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) Form LDSS-4826 (Rev. 5/05), New York State Food Stamp application, and all translated versions:

 “In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political belief, or disability.”

New York food stamp regulations, based on federal requirements, require each Department of Social Services (DSS) office to determine eligible families, assure those eligible receive Food Stamps, and to provide information regarding the food stamp program and application process. 18 NYCRR §387.2.

DSS offices must provide information to low-income households, with due regard to ethnic and disadvantaged groups, about the availability and benefits of the program and encouraging their participation. NYCRR §387.2 (b). LEP individuals are disproportionately represented among low-income groups, and districts must provide this information to the most prevalent languages in a particularity community.

When a local district informs applicants and recipients about their program rights and responsibilities, where appropriate, such information must be provided languages other than English. The local districts are responsible for insuring that the food stamp program, in all aspects is administered without discrimination because of race, creed, or national origin. 18 NYCRR §387.2 (r)

National origin is an impermissible basis for discrimination when local offices are administering food stamps and they are required to provide informational materials in languages spoken by LEP applicants and recipients. 18 NYCRR §387.2 (t). More details can be found at this memo in the resources below.

Federal Resources                                                                            

State Resources                                                                                

Other Resources                                                                                    

LEP Policies in State Social Services Offices


Frequently Asked Questions
Federal LEP
Title VI
Executive Order 13166
DOJ LEP Guidance
Federal Agency Guidance
LEP Topics
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Legal Services and Attorneys
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LEP Statistics
Census Data
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Model LEP Plans
New York Resources

Last Updated: August  11, 2008 ● Empire Justice Center © 2008