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Food Stamps


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Well you can’t buy just anything with food stamps. That would cause a lot of problems, but people are often surprised at what isn’t included on the specified food stamp list. That’s because hot food items, such as a combo meal at a fast food restaurant or a hot plate at a diner are not included in your food stamp allowance. It can be rather embarrassing if you try to buy other items from grocery stores that are also not eligible, because you will still likely have to pay for those items out-of-pocket. This is how food stamps are used to supplement an income, not pay for everything that you might need. In general, the food stamp program wants to provide families with a nutritional basis of grocery items. Here are some of the things that you are allowed to buy and some things that you are not.


Households can use SNAP benefits (food stamps) to pay for things like:



    • Breads


    • Cereals


    • Fruits


    • Vegetables


    • Meats


    • Fish


    • Poultry


    • Dairy products



You may also find it interesting that food stamps will also allow you to buy seeds and plants that produce tomatoes, peppers, corn and other food products for a household to eat. This is because these type of products will allow you to save more money and supply food for your family in the future.


There are some restaurants that are authorized to accept SNAP benefits from those who qualify as homeless, elderly or disabled. The benefits are used to purchase low-cost meals, and this is also because they are less able to make their own food, in which case they need to purchase low-cost meals with SNAP benefits in order to eat.


There is a strict limitation on what you cannot buy with food stamps. You should make a note of these items and avoid trying to check out with your food stamps if you want any of these items to be paid for with federal funds, because you will not succeed. Usually the price of these items will be deducted and you’ll be forced to pay out-of-pocket or put them back.


You cannot use SNAP benefits for the following items:



    • Beer, wine, liquor or other alcohol products


    • Cigarettes or tobacco products


    • Non-food items, like pet food, soaps, paper products or household supplies


    • Vitamins and medications


    • Food that will be eaten in the store, such as prepared sandwich


    • Hot food items such as the chicken in a basket


    • Certain energy drinks are not eligible. Those that have supplemental facts label and are classified by the FDA as supplements are not eliglble.



There have been questions about the type of food items that are allowed, even if they are not on the above list, such as soft drinks, candy, cookies and crackers. These are allowed and eligible to be purchased with food stamps. Ice cream, for example, is a dairy product and still eligible. Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and eligible as well. Congress has considered placing limits on the type of food that is allowed, but they concluded that this would lead to claiming some foods as “luxury” and “non-nutritious” would cost more and add extra burdens than necessary. In this case, it is also acceptable to allow parents to pick and choose what is best to use food stamps for.


Holiday items like pumpkins are edible and eligible to be bought with food stamps. Inedible gourds are not eligible. Gift baskets that contain both food and non-food items are not eligible for purchase, specifically if the non-food items exceed 50 percent of the purchase price. Birthday cakes are also eligible so long as the value of the decorations do not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price.


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