SNAP Benefits: Can You Use Your EBT Card/Food Stamps to Purchase Soda?

Cola with a large splash, isolated on blue stock photo
burwellphotography /

SNAP, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered at the state level, provides food assistance to low- and no-income households across the U.S. SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase certain items.

Discover: 15 Cheap, Beautiful Places To Retire
More: Social Security Schedule: When June 2022 Benefits Will Be Sent

According to the USDA, EBT cards, which are linked to SNAP accounts, can 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.

While not explicitly mentioned, soda can be purchased using SNAP benefits. A 2016 report from the USDA found that sweetened beverages, like soda, are the most commonly purchased items by SNAP recipients across the U.S.

“Cold drinks (fountain drinks, slushies, iced coffee, smoothies, and other similar items, etc.) are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase if they are intended for home consumption,” says the USDA. “The fact that a drink may be sipped while the customer is standing in line does not render it ineligible, as long as it is not otherwise intended for consumption on store premises.”

Make Your Money Work for You

SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase:

  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Tobacco products.
  • Vitamins, medicines and supplements.
  • Live animals.
  • Foods that are hot at the point of sale.
  • Any nonfood items.

See: POLL: Do You Make a Weekly Meal Plan or Other Regular Household Budget?
Find: Why Doesn’t Every Grocery Store Accept SNAP EBT Food Stamps?

Hot drinks and foods are also not eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits. The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 defines eligible foods as those that are meant for home consumption.

Share This Article:

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.

Best Bank Accounts of August 2022

Untitled design (1)
Close popup The GBR Closer icon

Sending you timely financial stories that you can bank on.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics.

Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

For our full Privacy Policy, click here.