Can you buy soda with EBT? Yes! Soda is an edible food item that is eligible for purchase with SNAP EBT benefits. We’ll show you where and how you can buy sodas with your benefits card.
What is EBT?
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). EBT cards are used to distribute benefits from many federal programs, including food stamps (SNAP), TANF, refugee cash assistance and more.
Since these federal programs have rules about what you can and cannot buy, there is often confusion about what is eligible for purchase with EBT. Cash programs like TANF and RCA are typically less restrictive than SNAP, which is supposed to be used only to purchase food for the recipient.
Can you buy soda with EBT?
Yes, you can buy soda with EBT. Although there are many states that are currently pushing to restrict this, it is currently possible in all 50 states.
The USDA has stated that SNAP EBT benefits are intended to purchase food for human consumption for the recipient. The USDA has specifically listed the following items as eligible:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Breads and cereals
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and plants that produce food
In the FAQ section of the USDA website, the government clarifies:
Cold drinks (fountain drinks, slushies, iced coffee, smoothies, and other similar items, etc.) are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase if they are intended for home consumption. The fact that a drink may be sipped while the customer is standing in line does not render it ineligible, as long as it is not otherwise intended for consumption on store premises. Hot drinks (coffee, lattes, tea, etc.) are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. Hot food items are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.Ask USDA
How do you buy soda with EBT?
Buying soda with EBT is easy! Although food stamps benefits used to be distributed through literal stamps, the benefits are now sent on EBT cards.
You can ring up eligible and ineligible products in one transaction, and the EBT card will cover the eligible items including soda. Once the eligible items are paid by EBT, you can use a different payment method to any remaining balance.
Where can you buy soda with EBT?
You just need to make sure you’re shopping from a retailer that is set up to process EBT transactions. There are many grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets and even restaurants that can process EBT payments.
Common EBT-approved retailers include:
- Fred Meyer
- King Soopers
- Piggly Wiggly
- Whole Foods
- and more!
You can also pick up candy at most convenience stores or gas stations, as well!
- Circle K
- Exxon Mobile
- Flying J
- Kwik Trip
- and more!
You can even use your EBT card in other states if you are travelling! Just remember that it does not work outside of the United States.
Is there any limitations on what soda you can buy?
The USDA rules strictly limit SNAP EBT purchases to eligible food items. You cannot purchase any items with a supplemental facts label. This is a major issue when it comes to purchasing energy drinks, since some have nutrition facts label and others have a supplement facts label.
Some popular drinks like Zipfizz are not eligible for purchase with EBT because they are considered supplements instead of food.
Will this rule change in the future?
In recent years, several states have proposed rules that would make it impossible for SNAP recipients to buy soda with EBT. These proposals would also put limits on candy and other treats.
However, the SNAP program is administered by the federal government and states can’t make their own rules. The state has to get the federal government’s permission to make changes or test new ideas.
So far, the USDA has not accepted any of those proposals to limit the program. According to Pew Trusts, this is likely because the changes would be so costly and difficult to implement.