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Food Items You Can Buy with EBT Card & What You Must Never Buy with it

If you are eligible and currently receiving SNAP Benefits and perhaps want to know what food items you can buy with your EBT card, don’t panic! In this article, we are going to give you a list of eligible food stamp items you can buy with the EBT card.

What you can Buy with EBT Card

When receiving SNAP benefits you are given an EBT card that allows you to purchase food at locations that accept food stamps. The aim of the program is to provide nutritious foods to eligible low-income individuals and families.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages the SNAP program and has strict guidelines for what you can purchase using your EBT card.

This is to make sure that your food stamps are being used to buy nutritious foods.

As a general rule, you can use your EBT food stamps to buy any food item that is not hot when sold or food that is sold to be eaten in the store, for example, restaurant food.

Eligible Food Item

Here is the list of food items you are allowed to purchase with your SNAP Benefits card:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meats, fish, poultry
  • Deli meats and steak
  • Dairy products
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for the household
  • Soft drinks
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Snack crackers
  • Ice cream
  • Energy drinks (must have a nutrition label)
  • Live seafood, such as lobster, fish, and shellfish
  • Pumpkins (as long as they are edible)
  • Birthday cakes (the non-edible piece of the cake cannot exceed 50 percent)
  • Bakery items

Non-Eligible Food Item

Here’s what you cannot buy with your SNAP benefits:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco products
  • Hot food (prepared for immediate consumption)
  • Nonfood items
  • Pet foods
  • Soaps
  • Paper products
  • Medicines and vitamins
  • Household supplies
  • Grooming items
  • Cosmetics

Food Stamps Fraud

Not a single month goes by without people and business owners being arrested for participating in Food Stamps fraud.

Use your card for what it was intended for and don’t let anyone convince you to purchase anything that is not on the approved list or use the card for anything that it was not intended for.

There are a lot of sting operations organized by local law enforcement agencies to catch SNAP Card fraud. Also, once you are caught in food assistance fraud, you will be banned from ever getting any more benefits.

Your EBT card might not automatically block these purchases!

  • If you’re using your EBT card at a store, and plan on also buying items that are not on the list above, you should separate your orders and pay for them separately.
  • Do not rely on your EBT card or the cashier to separate these items out.
  • Even if you didn’t mean for it to happen, you can still face penalties if one of these purchases goes through on your EBT card.

What Can Happen

If your EBT card is used to buy items that are not on the eligible list and you are caught, your state’s food stamps agency will set up a hearing to determine whether or not you broke the law.

You will continue to get your benefits until the hearing.

If they finds that you used your EBT card to buy banned items, the penalties are very serious.

First, any money spent on banned items will need to be paid back. You can also lose your benefits for:

  • 3 months the first time
  • 1 year the second time, and
  • 2 years every time after that

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Frequently Asked Questions

What you can buy with SNAP

1. Can you buy energy drinks with food stamps?

Energy drinks that have a nutrition label are eligible foods. However, energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible under food stamps rules.

2. Can you purchase pumpkins with food stamps?

Pumpkins are edible and eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. However, inedible gourds and pumpkins that are used solely for ornamental purposes are not eligible.

3. Can I buy gift baskets (like Easter Baskets) with EBT?

Yes, you can purchase gift baskets with food stamps.

4. Can you buy a birthday or Ice Cream cake with EBT?

Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the cake.

Final Say

It is important that you pay close attention to this list, as violating the rules or conspiring with another person to violate any of the rules constitutes Food Stamp Fraud.

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