Note: This product is an experiment that Code for America does not actively maintain. This page is kept active as a record of the project.

We built Balance because nearly 50 million Americans are receiving SNAP (Food Stamps) and we wanted to give them an easier way to check their balance.

FAQ

Where does it work?

So far Balance works in:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Alaska
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia

If you want to use Balance with real SNAP recipients, check out the list of official Balance phone numbers.

What languages does it work in?

Balance works in English and Spanish

Can I try it?

Yup! 

Text this EBT number: 5077 1901 9764 6090
To this phone number: (415) 798-2736

How did it start?

It started as an idea to help social service clients in San Francisco. Check out the project ideas repository on GitHub to see the beginning conversation.

What does Beta mean?

Beta means it works most of the time (but not always) and we don't have a plan for long-term sustainability. Please get in touch if you want to help find one!

How does it work?

Balance uses existing phone interfaces to access balance information. When a user texts their EBT number, Balance initiates a phone call to the appropriate service center on their behalf, navigates through the phone tree, transcribes the response, and texts it back to the user. See the source code for the nitty gritty.

How much does it cost?

Balance is free for the user besides standard text message rates. On the other side of things, it costs about 5c per balance query, though Twilio is generously covering these costs for now. Thanks!

Still have questions? Get in touch!

The team

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