Colorado food assistance and COVID-19

COVID19 and food assistance header image
 

COVID-19 has created a crisis situation for many individuals and families. We created this page to keep Coloradans up to date on changes to food assistance programs through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (including online grocery shopping), as well as Food Distribution Programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you still have questions, please contact your local SNAP office.

Frequently asked questions about food assistance

How do I apply for Food Assistance benefits?

Choose one of the options below to apply for Food Assistance benefits. Try to provide as much information as you can on the application to make the process faster.

Phone

Outreach partners can help you apply by phone:

Call Hunger Free Colorado Hotline at 1-855-855-4626 (Important note: Hunger Free Colorado only helps with food) Call Mile High United Way at 2-1-1 (MHUW is able to help with food, shelter, rental and child care)

 

Once you complete your paper application, you can drop it off at the county office or send it in by mail, fax or email.

Online 

Visit the Colorado PEAK website at https://colorado.gov/PEAK from a computer or tablet to complete an application online.

Mobile App

Download the MyCOBenefits app to apply from a smartphone

If you are approved, you will be able to see benefit amounts.

Paper

Paper applications are still available at your county office, even if it is closed.

 

How do I qualify for other benefits such as Adult Financial, Colorado Works, and/or Medicaid?

If you are interested in applying for other assistance programs, you can select the programs that you are interested in when you complete the application.

If you apply by phone for Food Assistance, you will need a separate paper, PEAK, or MyCOBenefits mobile app application to apply for other assistance programs.

What if I am a student and need Food Assistance?

Students can apply and may be eligible for Food Assistance.

If you are a student and have recently lost work or work-study, you could be eligible for Food Assistance. 

What do I do after I send in my application?

After you submit an application, the county will review your information. If the county has questions, they may be calling the phone number from your application to contact you to make sure you get the correct benefits.

To check the status of your application, you can log into your PEAK account at https://colorado.gov/PEAK or on the MyCOBenefits mobile app.

What happens if I missed my interview?

Counties are trying to make food benefits easier for you to access, so interviews may not be necessary but they still may need to contact you for other information.

If the county does need to contact you for more information, the county will try to call you at the phone number you provided on your application. 

What should do if I have an interview scheduled for the future?

The county will reach out to you to reschedule if an interview still needed.

I lost my job. Can I get Food Assistance faster?

If you lost your job or have been laid off, you should apply for Food Assistance immediately.

Please provide as much information as you can about your layoff.

Your application and information will be reviewed by the county to determine if you are eligible to receive benefits within seven days.

What happens if I do not have all the paperwork the county needs?

Counties are trying to make the application process easier by allowing for more flexibility in what you need to provide.

The county will try to get all of the information they need for you but may still need to call you at the phone number from your application if they have questions.

Is the county office processing verifications? Have the due dates changed now?

County offices are working quickly to update your case with any information that you have provided them.

Due dates for the information the county office requested have not changed.

Is the county office processing verifications? Have the due dates changed now?

County offices are working quickly to update your case with any information that you have provided them.

Due dates for the information the county office requested have not changed.

How long will it take to get food assistance benefits after I apply?

County offices are working as quickly as they can to process applications.

Normal processing can take from 7 days to 30 days but counties are trying to shorten all processing times.

How can I check the status of my application?

There are two ways to check the status of your application:

On the PEAK website

Go to https://colorado.gov/PEAK Click on “Sign In”

On your smartphone

Download the MyCOBenefits app onto your phone
  • Note: If you have a temporary password, use the “Sign In” option in the upper right-hand corner of the PEAK home page.
  • Click on “Manage My Account”
  • Click on “Benefits” on the left-hand side of the screen to see the active status for each member in your household under “Benefit Summary.”
How do I access my benefits once I am approved?

Your benefits are loading onto Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards which work a lot like a debit card in stores where you can buy food.

Your EBT card can be mailed to you once you are approved. 

An EBT card getting mailed to you can take 7-10 days to reach you.  

If you do not have a home address, your EBT card can be mailed to an address that you choose such as a shelter or a place where you can pick up mail.  

You will receive a brochure with your EBT card that will explain more information about using your EBT card. 

If you had an EBT card before but need another one, you can call 1-888-328-2656.

What are my options if I have Food Assistance but cannot leave my house to use my EBT card?

The eligibility worker at the county can help you indicate the person who can help you access your benefits and help with shopping, called an authorized representative.

Your authorized representative can have a card mailed to them and it cannot be used before they receive it.

Some Walmart locations have the technology to let you process shopping orders for pick-up using the Food Assistance benefits with your EBT card.

Recently, CDHS, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has made it possible for SNAP participants to purchase eligible food online with their EBT card.

Currently, only two approved retailers — Walmart and Amazon — are accepting EBT cards for online purchases. Learn more on the Colorado EBT page.

What do I do if my address is wrong and I can’t get an EBT card mailed to me until it is fixed?

If you have called 1-888-328-2656 and they have told you that your address is not correct, your address will need to be updated. 

Normally, this would be done through your county office but because of COVID-19 and the increased calls to county offices, please call 1-800-536-5298. 

This is a secured line, so if you leave a voicemail, please leave your name, SSN, CBMS Case # and updated address to help your information getting updated faster.

An EBT card getting mailed to you can take 7-10 days to reach you.

I already receive Food Assistance. Will there be any changes to my benefits?

If you do not already receive the maximum benefit for your eligible household members, you will receive extra Food Assistance benefits.

If you are already receiving Food Assistance, you will continue to receive benefits and may be automatically re-enrolled in the program without extra work. 

If you were automatically re-enrolled, you will receive a letter from us telling you about the next steps.

You can track your benefit amount on the MyCOBenefits app or on your PEAK account.

Can someone else shop for me?

Yes, you can let someone else use your card to buy food for you. But be careful. Once you tell someone your PIN and give them your card, they could use ALL of your benefits. Stolen benefits will NOT be replaced.  As an additional security step, you can change your PIN after each shopping trip.

What if I have questions or changes to report?

A lot of county offices are closed to the public due to the public health crisis.

County offices that are closed to the public are open remotely and will still process applications and changes.

There may be longer wait and hold times over the phone due to the number of calls the counties are receiving.

County websites may provide email addresses to get in touch with someone in your county office to answer your questions or report changes.

You may be able to answer a lot of your questions and report changes by logging into your PEAK account or the MyCOBenefits mobile app.

You can also submit changes in writing at the dropbox for your county office.

Frequently asked questions about using SNAP for online purchases

What is it?

CDHS, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has made it possible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase eligible food online for the first time with their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This is possible as a result of a federal waiver from USDA Food and Nutrition Services that allowed for an emergency request to expand a pilot program permitting SNAP recipients to purchase grocery and food delivery online.

Who can use online purchasing?

Beginning May 29, this option will be available for SNAP (also known as Food Assistance) participants, as well as Colorado Works and Old Age Pension participants, to make online food delivery purchases on their EBT card.

Where can you use your EBT card to make online purchases?

Currently only two approved retailers – Walmart and Amazon – are accepting EBT cards for online purchases.

Are there additional fees?

Additional fees do apply, but both retailers – Walmart and Amazon – have established accessibility opportunities for SNAP participants to use their service at a very low cost. Delivery fees, tips and non-eligible purchases such as alcohol or tobacco cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits.

Will other retailers eventually accept EBT cards for online purchases?

CDHS is working with the USDA to bring more retailers, including local grocers, into the program in the future.

Frequently asked questions about Food Distribution Programs

What is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)?

TEFAP provides a monthly food package to eligible households and is available in every county in Colorado.

Please call 2-1-1 or visit www.211colorado.org to find the nearest distribution site or the Food Resource Hotline at 855-855-4626.

Do I have to provide proof of income for TEFAP?

No. You will self-declare how you are eligible to receive TEFAP.

See the current requirements for eligibility here.

What else do I need to know about TEFAP?

You will be asked to provide your name, address, number of people in your household, and how you are eligible.

You may also be asked to provide some form of ID.

Most distribution sites are food pantries that offer additional food items and other resources.

What is The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)?

CSFP provides a monthly food package to adults that are 60 years of age or older and meet income guidelines. CSFP is offered in every county in Colorado.

Please call 211 or visit www.211colorado.org to find the nearest distribution site.

Do I have to provide proof of income for CSFP?

No. You will self-declare how you are eligible to receive CSFP.

See the current requirements for eligibility here.

What else do I need to know about CSFP?

You will need to complete a CSFP application and provide some form of ID.

Once you are approved (which will happen at the time of application in most cases), you are certified for one year.

You can recertify each year by simply indicating your interest in continuing participation in the program and self-declaring that you qualify.

How can I access these programs while maintaining “social distance”?

Many TEFAP sites have drive-thru distribution so there is no 1:1 contact.

Some CSFP agencies are providing home delivery services or distributing food in other ways which keep everyone safe.

Can I receive both CSFP and TEFAP at the same time?

Absolutely. Many of the distribution sites provide both CSFP and TEFAP.

If you qualify for CSFP, you are automatically qualified to receive TEFAP.

Resources and other information

COVID-19
Energy assistance
  • Apply for or find out information about the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) by calling the HEAT HELP Line (available 24/7) at 866-432-8435
    • Applications can take 30 days to process but can be quicker for emergencies like a shutoff notice.  
Food assistance 
Medicaid 
  • Medicaid Call Center: 1-800-221-3943
  • Medicaid Advocate Line: 303-866-2868
Rental assistance 
Unemployment