What Can You Buy With SNAP/EBT/Food Stamps?

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SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program) is the United States’ largest government nutrition assistance program. Through a monthly reward on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, SNAP helps low-income households increase their spending power. An EBT card is very similar to a debit card in that you may use it at participating retailers.


Government regulations govern eligible items available for purchase with your SNAP EBT card. Foods that are SNAP-eligible are often those you can make at home and this does not cover hot, prepared food or food that you can eat in the store.

You can buy the following 8 items with SNAP/EBT/Food Stamps are below.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • You may be able to spend your SNAP benefits on some restaurant meals if you’re elderly, disabled, or homeless.
  • Because of constant updates to the SNAP program, a healthy diet may be more accessible to you. Check out which foods are covered by the plan.
  • Your SNAP benefits can also help you add drinks and sweets to your meals. Find out what the USDA defines as “accessory foods” and whether you can buy them.

What Items Can You Buy With SNAP/EBT Food Stamps?

Recipients use electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to get payments and make purchases, and they may buy a lot more than just groceries with them. Let’s have a look at some of the controversial expenses that SNAP will cover below;

1. Dairy Products

Milk and other selected dairy products are available with your SNAP benefits. You must inquire which dairy products are part of the institution’s EBT food program.


What About Baby Formula?

You can buy infant food or milk substitutes (if the child is lactose intolerant) with your SNAP benefits. You may be eligible for free lifeline phone service if you qualify for SNAP benefits.

2. Seeds/Plants That Produce Food For Your Family

SNAP beneficiaries can use EBT cards to purchase edible plants & seeds (food-producing plants) that they can grow or use to provide food for their families. These include;

  • Tomato
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkins
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet Potato
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell Peppers
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Butternut Squash
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Mange tout
  • Grapefruit
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Chick Peas
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplants
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Blueberries
  • Guavas
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Figs
  • Avocados
  • Lemon
  • And many more!

The USDA claims that for each $1 spent on fertilizer and seeds, you may grow $25 worth of vegetables, but according to Modern Farmer, this crucial component of the SNAP program is one of the least understood. Seeds and plants are available at any SNAP-approved shop, including farmer’s markets, using your EBT card.

3. Bread & Cereals

As with dairy products, you can buy bread and cereals with your EBT/SNAP benefits card, but you need to inquire which bread and cereal products are a part of the institution’s EBT food program. You can either contact the store or inquire in-store.

4. Restaurant Meals

If you qualify for the EBT/SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) and reside in a participating state, you can use SNAP to pay for dine-in restaurant meals. RMP assists vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, the homeless, and the disabled. Participating establishments must offer qualified diners meals at “concessional prices.”

Who Is Eligible For the EBT Restaurant Food Program?

  • The Elderly (60+ Years) – Because the elderly cannot put out the same effort as younger people, they earn less. They shouldn’t, however, be denied nourishment. You will be eligible for an EBT card when you reach the age of 60. Elderly individuals in the United States of America are prioritized for various benefits and services.
  • The Homeless – The world’s most unfortunate people are the homeless. They must deal with numerous housing and food-related issues. They also don’t have a permanent or regular place to stay at night. As a result, EBT cards can be used to purchase food for the homeless.
  • The Disabled – Disabled people face numerous challenges in everyday life. All sorts of support are available to disabled people. The government entity should define this condition as an accident-related disability, developmental or physical incapacity, or chronic mental illness.

The SNAP program provides food assistance to the homeless, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities in several states. You must present an EBT card to ensure that the establishment can serve low-cost food. Various states such as Alabama, California, Michigan, Colorado, and several other states accept EBT cards.


The following restaurants accept EBT cards, but you need to enquire which meals form part of their food program;

24th st Pizza & GyrosGolden CorralPizza Hut
BlimpieGreat SteaksPopeye’s
Burger KingHarris & Smith Coffee CompanyQuiznos
Burger ShoppeHelpings Café and MarketRally’s Hamburgers
CiCi’s PizzaJack in the BoxSmoke Dem Bones BBQ
Dairy QueenJamba JuiceSpeedy Street Tacos Corp
Denny’sJimmy and Joe’s PizzeriaSubway
Domino’s PizzaKFCTaco Bell
EaglesMcDonald’sTasty Box
El Pollo LocoMoon Light Family RestaurantUncle Sam’s
Fat SubPapa John’s PizzaWaba Grill
Firestone SubsPapa Murphy’sWendy’s

5. Fruits & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are one of the main items you can buy with your EBT card. The types of fruits and vegetables available for purchase depend entirely on the store, and it would be best to contact the store for more information or inquire in-store.

6. Non-alcoholic beverages

The non-alcoholic beverages you can buy with SNAP include;

  • Energy Drinks

You can purchase energy drinks with SNAP subsidies, but only if they meet the USDA’s requirements. According to New York SNAP EBT, it qualifies if an energy drink contains a “nutritional facts” label. If it says “supplemental facts” on the package, it’s a supplement and can’t be bought with EBT.

*That implies Starbucks Double Shot, Red Bull, and Rockstar make the cut, but not Tweaker, 5 Hour Energy, and Bang Shot.

  • Tea & Coffee

You can use SNAP to purchase packaged coffee, including Keurig-style K-cups and creamer. Coffee that is ready to drink cannot be purchased. You can’t make your own coffee at home and then switch to tea when you’re out. Because the USDA prohibits the use of SNAP funding to purchase any hot beverages, tea is also limited to packaged and unbrewed varieties.

Other beverages include;


  • Soda
  • Water
  • Iced Tea
  • Vegetable & Fruit Juices
  • Lemonade

7. Meat/Animals

Even though you can’t purchase a kitten or a puppy from the pet store with your EBT card, you can purchase the following meat/animals;

  • Animals that are killed/slaughtered before you purchase their meat from the store
  • Fish removed from the water.
  • Lobster and other shellfish.
  • Beef
  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)

8. Accessory Foods & Snacks

Most people are aware that SNAP participants can use their EBT cards to purchase household necessities like milk, eggs, meat, bread, and veggies, but few are aware of the USDA’s approved snack list. Let’s just say if a child can dream it; SNAP is likely to cover it!

Spices, oils, and sweeteners, for example, can be purchased using SNAP benefits for home preparation and consumption. To go along with your meals, you can buy snacks, desserts, and certain beverages. Among them are, but are not limited to:

  • Cakes
  • Marshmallows
  • Pies
  • Doughnuts
  • Popsicles 
  • Muffins
  • Ice cream
  • Custard
  • Pastries
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Crisps
  • Ice cream
  • Sweets
  • Chocolate
  • Custard
  • Scones
  • Churros
  • Spices & seasonings (extracted, powdered, or dried)
  • Honey
  • maple syrup
  • cane sugar
  • Natural or artificial sweeteners
  • Ketchup, mustard, & other condiments
  • And many more!

With so many terms, conditions and requirements come many questions. Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions about SNAP/EBT;

How Do You Apply For SNAP?

SNAP applications must be submitted in the state where you presently reside. Since each state has its own application form and process, a member of your family must contact the appropriate state office to apply.

Consult your nearest SNAP office, go to your state agency’s website, or call your state’s toll-free SNAP Information helpline to contact your state agency. Certain states provide online applications that you can fill out on the state agency’s website.

Can Students Apply For SNAP?

Students aged 18 to 49 enrolled at least half-time in college are generally ineligible for SNAP unless they meet certain qualifying criteria. You could be eligible for SNAP if you are enrolled less than half-time. Higher education institutions determine the number of hours deemed “half-time” enrolment.

Can You Purchase Gift Baskets With SNAP?

If the value of the non-food goods exceeds 50% of the purchase price, gift baskets comprising food and non-food items aren’t eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. The same applies to birthday and special occasion cakes that may be allowed for purchase as long as the non-eligible embellishments do not exceed 50% of the entire amount.

Which Online Stores Accept SNAP?

To see the participating retailers in the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, please click on the states in the table below.


AlabamaHawaiiMassachusettsNew MexicoSouth Dakota
ArizonaIdahoMichiganNew YorkTennessee
ArkansasIllinoisMinnesotaNorth CarolinaTexas
CaliforniaIndianaMississippiNorth DakotaUtah
ColumbiaLouisianaNevadaPennsylvaniaWest Virginia
FloridaMaineNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
GeorgiaMarylandNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming

Is It Safe To Use Your EBT Card Online?

Your unique personal identification number will be required to use your EBT card online (PIN). Two companies now offer a PCI-compliant encrypted-PIN centering mechanism required for online buying. To provide secure PIN entry, all participating pilot merchants must cooperate with one of these companies.

What Classifies As A SNAP Household?

A SNAP household comprises everyone who lives together and buys and prepares meals together. Even though they purchase and cook meals separately, some people who live together, such as couples and most children under the age of 22, are considered part of the same SNAP household.

Suppose a person is 60 or older and unable to buy and prepare meals separately due to a permanent handicap. In that case, the person and his or her spouse may be considered a separate SNAP household if the other people they reside with are low-income (no more than 165% of the poverty level).

What Happens To Unused Food Stamps?

When SNAP participants have unused food stamp benefits leftover at the end of the month, the funds usually roll over to the next month. Claimants are not eligible for these benefits since they did not spend them quickly enough. Participants in the SNAP/EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) should be aware that any unused food stamp benefits may soon expire.

For How Long Do You Receive SNAP?

If you are deemed qualified, you will receive a notice stating how long you will be eligible for SNAP benefits; this is known as your certification period. You will receive another notice before your certification period ends, stating that you must recertify to continue receiving benefits. Your local SNAP office will provide information on how to recertify.

Do SNAP/EBT Benefits Expire?

Each month, SNAP funds are loaded onto an EBT. If you don’t use your card for months, it will be taken offline, and your account access will be canceled, which means you won’t be able to use it until you consult your state benefits office to get it reactivated.

Important Message

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA initiated a SNAP online purchase program in 48 states across the US. If you live in one of the pilot states, you can use your SNAP benefits card to purchase groceries online (but not for delivery). Keep an eye on the linked page for program changes and a list of participating stores in your area. You can also look for SNAP-authorized stores using the USDA’s SNAP Retailer Locator.

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