SNAP Benefits at Walmart: What Can I Buy?

Tucson, AZ July 21, 2019: Walmart Store Building Sign.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the federal government’s food program to help low-income families and individuals afford nutritious food when their income does not cover these essential costs. Eligible participants receive their funds on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

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Walmart is one of many retailers that accepts EBT payments (in 48 states you can pay at checkout, in Alaska and Montana, you can pay at pickup) and a convenient and affordable place for many people to shop with their SNAP benefits. If you’ve just started up with SNAP and are wondering, “What can I buy with EBT at Walmart?” we’re here to answer that question for you with this list of USDA-approved eligible foods.

First, though, a note about payment: You will need an online Walmart account to use EBT for pick-up or delivery. You also have the option to use multiple forms of payment, such as an EBT card and a debit card, in one shopping trip. While you can receive a delivery of goods that you paid for with your SNAP EBT card, you will have to pay delivery fees separately. Now, onto the items you can buy with EBT at Walmart.

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Fruits and Vegetables

SNAP emphasizes nutritious food, and what could be more nutritious than fruits and vegetables? From fresh berries and melons to leafy greens and beans, Walmart’s produce section welcomes you. Consider buying bags of legumes, beans and rice for making bulk meals, and be sure to buy your veggies whole, rather than individually wrapped or cut, where you’re likely losing money.

Meats, Poultry and Fish

These warm summer months are a great time for grilling your meats, poultry or fish, and Walmart has a wide selection. From bulk bags of frozen chicken breasts, whole turkeys, ground beef and a wide variety of fish, you can buy the right protein for your family.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are staples in all kinds of delicious recipes: a creamy breakfast yogurt; a bagel and cream cheese brunch; a tasty vanilla shake; a sumptuous grilled cheese sandwich or bubbling lasagna. However you like to work your dairy into your meal planning, you’ll be glad to know you can purchase all manner of products at Walmart with your EBT card.

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Breads and Cereals

What is life without carbs? Bread comes in as many varieties as there are tastes to enjoy them, from whole wheat to gluten-free, from multi-grain to brioche, most of us have a hankering for this most essential of carbohydrates. And what’s breakfast for schoolkids without a quick and easy bowl of cereal? All of these can be purchased at Walmart with EBT.

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Snack Foods

In between meals, many of us need a little bite during the day to keep us going, be it at work, school or out on a good hike. From cookies to chips, trail mix to crackers, snacks are the foods that keep us going when we can’t have a full meal. Walmart is a leader on snacks that you can purchase with EBT. Try to aim for buying full bags or boxes, rather than individually packaged snacks, however, to stretch your funds.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Pick your non-alcoholic poison. What quenches your thirst best? A gently sweetened iced tea, a sparkling water, lemonade, soda or juice? Maybe you like an energy drink for extra pep, or a sparkling apple juice to celebrate an occasion without alcohol? From Gatorade to kombucha, Mountain Dew to Capri Sun, Walmart has you covered with your EBT purchase of tasty beverages.

Seeds and Plants

If you have a green thumb or are ready to take up gardening for the first time, you may be heartened to know that you can buy food-producing seeds and plants in Walmart’s garden section with your EBT benefits, according to Growing food such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions, beans and other veggies and fruit can save you a ton on these costs. The only thing you can’t buy with your EBT are things like fertilizer, soil and other gardening adjacent tools.

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What You Can’t Buy With SNAP at Walmart

According to the USDA, there are a few items you cannot use your SNAP benefits to buy anywhere, much less at Walmart:

  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products of any kind.
  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements. The way to determine if an item qualifies as one of these is to look for a “supplement facts label.” This indicates it is a supplement and can’t be purchased with SNAP benefits.
  • Live animals in general, however, exceptions are made for shellfish, fish that are removed from water for eating, and animals slaughtered before store pick-up.
  • Hot foods.
  • Nonfood items such as: pet foods, household supplies, hygiene items and cosmetics, to name a few.

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

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