My biggest problem (with food stamps) was that they only took new applications on specific days at specific times. As for the process, you couldn't make an appointment so if you did have a job (which I did) you had to take an entire day off work. At the office they hand you an application that is 10 pages long, most of the questions were asked over and over again (name, date of birth, social security number, etc.), and then you had to provide proof of ID which included Government ID, birth certificate, and social security card. We also had to provide proof of address with a bill and/or lease. We had to show proof of income with our last 3 pay stubs. Then there was an interview. The lady was very nice, and I've been told that it usually takes the better part of a month to get food stamps but we got ours in 2 weeks. We were classified as an emergency situation. From our perspective it was. They then gave us a referral to Community Action which helped us with our power bill.
Receiving food stamps meant that we had more than a sack of potatoes to eat (which I had lived off of). So there was definite improvement in my standard of living. It allowed me to get my feet under me. We were only getting assistance for about a year before I was able to make enough for us to live off of. Justin never really had a job that paid the bills (he worked 20 hours a week at a car wash for minimum wage).
While receiving assistance I worked as a dental assistant for my dad. I was able to come off assistance once I was able to work full time (after graduating high school). Number of hours worked depended on how many emergencies. I was scheduled for 35 but usually worked at least 40, usually more.