Can you buy a birthday cake with food stamps? Whenever you have a birthday in your household, it’s natural to look at those beautiful cases full of birthday cakes and wish that you could buy one. If you think you can’t just because you’re shopping with food benefits, you may be missing out!
Whether you’re contemplating a cake mix that you’ll make at home or one of those big, beautiful decorated birthday cakes in the bakery display, you may be surprised to learn that most birthday cakes are food stamps eligible.
There are different types of birthday cakes.
There are many different types of birthday cakes. Some are clearly and obviously EBT-eligible because they are entirely food. However, the fancy decorated cakes sold by bakeries may not be as clear or obvious.
Let’s break birthday cakes down by type and analyze each one.
Birthday Cake Mixes
Whether you’re a Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines fan, you’re probably familiar with the wide selection of cake mixes that you can find in every grocery store. These box mixes have to be made at home and usually require you to add eggs, vegetable oil, water, butter.
Boxed birthday cake mixes can be bought with food stamps, as can the ingredients necessary to make them at home. You can even buy premade frosting, cake decorating sprinkles, and decorative candies with EBT.
Although it’s usually more affordable to buy these items at your local grocery store (especially a salvage store), you can find a list of EBT-eligible birthday cake options on Amazon. If you choose to buy them on Amazon, don’t forget to also claim your Amazon EBT discount.
However, you cannot buy cake pans or non-edible cake toppers with your benefits. It’s important to plan ahead and use a different payment method for those items. It’s interesting to note that you can often check out cake pans at your local library, though!
Premade Bakery Cakes
What about the birthday cakes that have been made in-store but are packaged and ready for sale in the bakery area? These are usual generic cakes that aren’t decorated for any particular milestone, but they can be used as birthday cakes if you throw a few candles on top. Those are also eligible for purchase with food stamps!
These include premade, ready-to-sell ice cream cakes, cupcakes, and other bakery goods like donuts or pies. Since the entire product is edible and made for human consumption, you can buy this kind of birthday cake with food stamps.
Custom Birthday Cakes
What about custom birthday cakes from your grocery’s stores bakery? These are the kind with customized messages or special non-food decorations like little dinosaurs or dolls. Can you buy this kind of birthday cake with food stamps?
Yes, some of these birthday cakes can be purchased with food stamps but you need to be very mindful of the rules.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, sometimes ineligible items can be EBT-eligible if they are packaged with eligible food items. The eligible food items must be responsible for the majority of the cost and value of the item.
Seasonal items such as Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, and special occasion items such as gift baskets, wedding cakes, and the like, are not eligible if the value of the nonfood items clearly amounts to more than 50 percent of the purchase price.USDA Memo, “Food Determinations – Eligible Foods,” March 2020
If the value of the edible part of the cake exceeds the value of the non-food decorations, the birthday cake may be EBT-eligible. It depends on how the store is setup to process those payments. For example, you need to make sure that you are purchasing the cake from a bakery inside a grocery store that is set up to process EBT benefits. Not every bakery will accept SNAP benefits.
But you don’t have to take my word for it!
The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services is the department that oversees food stamps benefits in the state of West Virginia. They have issued a notice about purchasing birthday cakes with food stamps. As you review their guidance, please remember that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal program and works the same in every state.
Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits as long as the value of the non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the cake.West Virginia DHHS
EBT users across the internet have been able to buy birthday cakes with food stamps. For example, teacher Michelle Shoaf from Maine stated on Quora that she was able to purchase a birthday cake for her son’s birthday. Sarah Davies, a grocery store cashier in Wisconsin, confirmed that birthday cakes can be purchased in her state as well.
Just remember that when you buy a birthday cake with food stamps, you need to make sure that the majority of the value of the cake is the edible part. Don’t look for something with fancy tiers and tons of toys on top.
How do you buy birthday cake with food stamps?
If you’d like to buy a birthday cake with food stamps, the process should be easy and straightforward. You should be able to pick up the cake and check out at any register in the store.
However, some food stamps users feel uncomfortable doing this. Some of us are very sensitive to the judgmental stares of others and buying a birthday cake with food stamps can raise uncomfortable questions in the checkout line.
Here are some tips to make your cake buying experience a little easier.
Reddit user officialfruitninja wrote, “You can buy a birthday cake with EBT. I have done it. No one should judge you. If you can, use the self checkout if you want to avoid people.”
Use edible decorations.
There are many candies that can double as edible decorations. If you end up buying a mix to make at home, don’t forget that you can scoop up some candy to use as a decoration! Pinterest is full of great ideas on how to make beautiful, affordable cakes.
Ask ahead of time.
If you’re nervous, you can always ask the bakery or the cashiers ahead of time. Odds are, other people have attempted to buy birthday cakes before you. The store employees should know if it’ll work or not.
However, you may want to ask for a second opinion if you’re told no. We’ve found over the years that a lot of employees don’t know the food stamps rules, so they may be surprised to find out that it’s possible!