SNAP 2022: What Items Are Eligible for Purchase With Your EBT Food Stamps?

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is the largest federal nutritional assistance program in the U.S. SNAP helps boost the purchasing power of low-income households via a monthly benefit on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. EBT cards are similar to debit cards, which can be used at authorized retailer stores.

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Government guidelines are also strict as to what is and what isn’t eligible for purchase using your SNAP EBT card. 

SNAP-eligible items are typically food items that can be prepared at home. This does not include food that is hot when sold or food that is sold to be eaten in the store, said FoodStampsNow. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these foods are eligible for SNAP:

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These items cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Vitamins, medicines and supplements 
  • 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
  • Nonfood items such as pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies, hygiene items and cosmetics

FoodStampsNow also noted that energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label are eligible to purchase using SNAP benefits. However, energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements, which are not eligible.

Gift baskets containing food and non-food items are not eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50% of the purchase price. Similarly, birthday and special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase as long as the value of the non-eligible decorations does not exceed 50% of the purchase price.

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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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