Can You Buy Alcohol With Food Stamps?

Stamford, CT, USA.
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SNAP, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and administered by each state, provides monthly benefits to low-income households across the U.S. SNAP does have purchase restrictions and benefits can only be used on certain items.

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According to the USDA, EBT cards, which are linked to SNAP accounts, may only be used at certain locations to purchase:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat and fish.
  • Dairy.
  • Breads and cereals.
  • Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.

The USDA explicitly states that SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco.
  • Vitamins, medicines and anything with a Supplement Facts label.
  • Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
  • Foods that are hot at the point of sale.
  • Any nonfood items.

SNAP EBT cards cannot be used to purchase beer, wine or liquor. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) noted that in 2012, the federal government mandated restrictions to be put in place to prevent the use of EBT cards in liquor stores, gaming or gambling venues or adult entertainment establishments.

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Low Income Relief also reported that your EBT card cannot be used to withdraw cash from your Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits from ATMs located at liquor stores, casinos, racetracks and adult entertainment establishments because they sell alcohol and other prohibited products and services.

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If you attempt to purchase alcohol with your EBT card, the transaction will likely be denied. But, withdrawing cash from an authorized location cannot typically be traced to the purchase, Low Income Relief noted.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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