There was a time when you could only use your SNAP benefits to buy groceries in brick-and-mortar grocery stores and the like. However, since more people shop online than ever before, big online retailers like Amazon adapted and take the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card for a number of things. Some of those things might surprise you.
According to the USDA, SNAP benefits are for the purchase of items in the following categories:
- Fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products
- Breads, cereals, canned vegetables and pantry staples
- Other foods such as snacks, seeds and non-alcoholic beverages
However, within these general guidelines, there are some surprising things you can buy with EBT on Amazon, and here are 15 of them.
Before the Keto diet, there was the Atkins diet, one of the first low-carb strategies for weight loss. Some of their “Endulge” and protein meal bars qualify as food on Amazon, and you can purchase such delicious flavors as strawberry cheesecake, nutty fudge brownie and vanilla pecan crisp. Not all their bars are SNAP eligible, so be sure to double-check.
Chia Pets Trolls Doll
Technically, Chia seeds are edible, even if most of the other items in a Chia Pet (namely a clay figurine into which you plant the seeds) are not. And while not all Chia Pets are SNAP eligible, the Chia Pet Trolls version is, and it’s a fun project for kids to grow.
Though you can’t purchase an actual cup of hot coffee with EBT, Keurig owners rejoice — you can purchase Keurig coffee pods at Amazon with your EBT. And the online retailer has a deal on a 40 coffee pod sampler for $22.98 — more than a month’s worth of daily coffee for less than $1 per pod.
Another way Amazon plays with a gray area around SNAP-eligible items is when a game includes food. In this case, the Hot Ones Truth or Dab game, which comes with hot sauces, falls under SNAP-eligible guidelines.
Everyone needs a boost from time to time, and energy drinks can provide that in a gulp. Fortunately, you can purchase energy drinks like Monster with your EBT at Amazon.
Emergency Kit Food Supply
In case of emergencies, disaster experts recommend you have as much as a week’s worth of food stored in case you can’t leave your home. Amazon sells an Augason Farms lunch and dinner 4-gallon pail emergency food supply that you can purchase with EBT.
Food Decorating Items
Some of the decorative elements you need to make a cake, cookies or cupcakes are sometimes SNAP eligible on Amazon; for example, Wilton sugar pearls.
According to the USDA, some gift baskets are SNAP eligible, so long as 50% of the items are food-based. At Amazon, you can get a few different kinds of gift baskets. Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Tower Basket of Snacks includes sweet and savory snack treats. Taste of Florida’s Tropical Gift Basket or A Mother’s Day Morning Breakfast gift basket are other options you can buy with SNAP.
Indoor Planting Kit
SNAP does allow for seeds or seedlings that can produce food, and Amazon offers a Back to the Roots indoor cherry tomatoes garden kit with your SNAP benefits.
Meal Replacement Shakes
There are a number of reasons why someone might need a meal replacement shake — from illness to dieting. These shakes include a high number of vitamins and minerals and thus qualify as food and are SNAP eligible.
Amazon allows for some nuance in the area of food for pets, particularly when it comes to dog treats. Some that are SNAP eligible include Cadet gourmet beef hide and chicken twists.
Depending on the way a protein powder is classified — as a food versus a supplement — they can be purchased with EBT. To qualify, the powder must be sold as a food, which you can buy at Amazon with EBT so long as the item says it is SNAP eligible.
The iconic meat in a can made popular in the ’50s might not be your taste, but a lot of people still like to make fun dishes with it. And Amazon is happy to make it available for EBT purchase.
Toys That Include Food
Amazon has a nice little gray area around items that are not specifically food but include food items, or in this case, candy. You can purchase the Groovy Growing Candy Lab or the Rainbow Gummy Candy Lab with EBT and other toys that include candy or food, though be sure to double-check the SNAP eligibility before you buy.
Toys That Resemble Food
Though toys, in general, are not typically counted as SNAP eligible, this Oosh slime cotton candy toy kit is, perhaps because it resembles food.
What You Can’t Buy With SNAP on Amazon
Just like all other stores, you still can’t buy the following items, per USDA guidelines:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines and supplements. (look for a supplemental facts label to determine if it’s considered a supplement).
- Live animals (with the exception of shellfish, fish removed from water and animals slaughtered before store pick-up).
- Foods that are hot at the point of sale
- Any nonfood items such as pet foods, cleaning supplies or household supplies, hygiene items or cosmetics
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