What can you buy with food stamps?

What can you buy with Food Stamps?

(Last Updated On: November 19, 2018)

Have you ever wondered “What can you buy with food stamps?” It seems like the state agencies that award EBT funds are very good at telling you what you CAN’T buy with food stamps… but they aren’t always as good at telling you what CAN you buy with food stamps.


What can you buy with food stamps?

The answer may surprise you! In addition to buying groceries and wholesome produce, your food stamps benefits can also be used to purchase:

You can buy seeds and plants with food stamps.

One of the wisest ways to spend your SNAP dollars is buying produce-bearing plants! Growing your own food can save you a lot of money, in some cases!

You can purchase vegetable seeds, herbs, fruit trees, tomato plants and vegetable starts with your food stamps benefits. It makes sense that you can use your food stamps to grow your own food. It’s a wise investment! Many retailers are unaware of this benefit, so you may need to refer them to this helpful resource!

After receiving some great questions from our readers, we reached out to the USDA for clarification on this. This is the response I received via email:

Thank you for contacting USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) with question about the eligibility of certain plant species for purchase with SNAP benefits.

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) states that SNAP households may use SNAP benefits to purchase seeds and plants which produce food for consumption.  Eligible seeds and plants include vegetable seeds and plants that produce food such as tomato and green pepper plants.  Other eligible items include fruit trees, food-producing roots, bushes and bulbs such as asparagus roots and berry bushes.  Seeds and plants that produce cooking spices are also eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Accordingly, some herb plants produce for consumption and are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits, while others do not produce food for consumption and are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.  Each fresh herb plant sold at the market will have to be weighed under this factor to determine SNAP eligibility.  For example, most mint, spearmint, cilantro, basil, sage, and oregano plants produce food for consumption and are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.  However, some varieties of sage plants are purely ornamental, do not produce food for consumption, and are thus ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

It should also be noted that any plant or seed purchased with SNAP benefits should be purchased to grow food for the SNAP household and not for commercial use.

In January 2018, USDA issued a memorandum about this. They specifically stated:

Garden Seeds and Plants: Seeds and plants used in gardens to produce food for human consumption are eligible foods. This includes the following items:
• Seeds for producing edible plants and edible plants (e.g., tomatoes and green pepper seeds or plants, and fruit trees);
• Edible food producing roots, bushes, and bulbs (e.g., asparagus crowns and onion bulbs); and
• Seeds and plants used to produce spices for use in cooking.

You can also buy these items!

Fresh produce from Farmer’s Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs can be paid with EBT as long as the vendor is approved to process EBT benefits!

Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label can be purchased with EBT. If the drink has a”supplement facts” label, it isn’t eligible because it is not considered a food item.

Pizza from take-and-bake outlets like Papa Murphy’s can be purchased with food stamps. Some of these places (such as Figaro’s and Zappos) will cook the pizza for you on-site for just a dollar or two.

Live lobsters and other shellfish that can be eaten are also purchasable.

You can also use food stamps to enhance your holidays!

Birthday and other special bakery cakes can be purchased with food stamps as long as the decorations don’t exceed 50% of the purchase price. If the cake has a lot of decorations that drive up the cost, it won’t be eligible… but a cake that is reasonably decorated is just fine.

Gift baskets (including pre-filled holiday stockings and tins) can also be purchased as long as the majority of the value is edible and no prohibited items are included. For example, a large bear with a small chocolate box would not be eligible… but a gift box with meats and cheeses would be, even if it included a few non-edible items. Anything that contains alcohol, cigarettes or pet items is not eligible.

Want a pumpkin for Halloween? You can purchase pumpkins with food stamps as long as they’re edible and not ornamental!

Live in Alaska?

If you live in rural areas of Alaska, you may also be able to purchase hunting and fishing equipment with your food stamps benefits! Since rural Alaskans have limited access to stores, families int hese areas are issued special identification cards that verify their eligibility to buy these products.

Among other things, rural Alaskans can buy nets, hooks, fishing poles, harpoons, and knives. They cannot purchase gasoline, motor oil, clothing, shelter, firesarms, ammuntion or explosives of any kind.

You can also get FREE admission with your EBT card!

Get even MORE free stuff! Click here!

47 thoughts on “What can you buy with Food Stamps?”

  1. Thank you for the info I just got internet for 10 a month which is a blessing my daughter needs it for help with her home work. I’ve worked full time my entire life until I got Lyme Disease 4 years ago and now I struggle to work 18 hours a week.i’m not disabled in the eyes of SS if only they could spend a week in my body!!! I read somewhere about help with a home computer and the TV box for local channels I used to watch church at a friend’s house with a box.do you know anything about these programs.

    1. Hey, Latashia! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m so glad that our info has been able to help you out! SS can be such a pain. I read somewhere that they deny 60% of all claims and that you have to appeal, on average, three times to succeed. SO frustrating! 🙁 Anyway, I wanted to let you know that you can click here to see everything I know about getting help with a computer and you can click here to see everything I know about that local channel box and other TV/cable alternatives. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with! 🙂

      1. I’m so appreciative of your EBT info. I wanted to add, that DMV used my card to cover the cost of my State ID. I do not know if it covers vital documents or DL. If this helps anyone though, its a care to share ‘secret’ worth telling.

          1. You’re so welcome, Marcia! We’re always happy to help. We are currently working on a list of states that offer free or discounted IDs to people on food stamps. I hope to have it published soon! 🙂

    2. Stephanie Whitman

      Hi I was actually leaving a question other than a comment. I was wondering if you had any knowledge on how to receive discounted internet? I reside in Birdsboro Pennsylvania. And we have no way of getting free Wi-Fi such as hot spots or anything like that. My cable company has now switched since I’ve just moved out here from Comcast Service Electric because that’s who covers this area that I’m in. And I have no idea how to navigate or even question Service Electric as far as discount programs or anything of that nature. I’m on disability which doesn’t give me a lot of money to do things with. Renton utilities is basically when I can afford. And where I live internet is almost a necessity. Some folks may say no but for me it’s basically a lifeline. Any thoughts or suggestions?
      Let me add that I did consult with Service Electric and their lowest internet speeds or packaging is upwards of $60-$80 excluding the ncredible tax and fees. And that’s what’s out installation fees as well! Total bill would be oh my goodness astronomical I’m sure . So I was wondering if you had any thoughts or comments? Any help would be appreciated!

      1. u acually have to be without internet for 3 to 6 mo to qualifey free internet threw the schools, if u have kids in school internet is free but cnt have internet 3 mo prior and it is the slowest internet

        1. In California I have to be without internet for 9 months to qualify. Not helpful for a person that just list their job :p

        2. That’s not true in all states. I don’t think pa has free internet at all. However my daughters cyber School will pay me back the ten dollars I spend a month for internet from Comcast. I didn’t have a back bill so IDK how or if that would cause a problem. I get the cheap internet because my son is still in a brick and mortar School. But I don’t request the refund from the cyber School. They will supply free wifi if we need it. And we have before but don’t now.

      2. I saw a link thru ‘pc for people ‘ for wifi. It is a program where if on ebt, ssi, etc…you can get the wifi for about $10 a month. The only catch was you have to purchase a wifi box and pay upfront for the service. So for $120, I could get high speed wifi for an entire year. But would have to spend about $75-80 extra to get the services box. I hope this helps.

  2. You can also get a discount on an Amazon Prime membership. Instead of paying $99 per year, you are eligible to pay $6.99 per month

  3. This website has a list of restaurants from A to W in Los Angeles county that accepts EBT, but is it ebt cash or ebt food stamps?!

    1. Hey, Antonio! The Restaurant Meals Program allows certain qualifying Food Stamps recipients to use their Food Stamps benefits at restaurants. Generally, you must be elderly, homeless or disabled and unable to cook your own meals in order to qualify. 🙂

  4. Hi,Im in Buffalo,N.Y. and Im looking for ebt discounts or free admission to the zoo,museum,etc.. and am finding nothing.I also could use help on lowering my utility bills and grants for home improvement.Im raising my granddaughter who just turned 4 and we live on less then 400.00 a month.Im disabibled and fighting to get my ssd.anything would help.thanks

        1. Hi, Carrie! That’s a great question. If you dial 211 from any phone, you’ll be connected with your local United Way. They have an extensive directory of food banks and should be able to identify which ones are able to deliver to your area. 🙂

    1. YES! I love that program – and I love that it’s spreading to more and more states each year. Thanks for sharing the link, Heather! 🙂

  5. Slot of this info is false. I’m from Massachusetts and you can not buy all ready to eat foods at the stores or energy drinks. Comcast does not offer discounts on there service and there few fast food places that do take debt. It must vary on the state u live in to receive certain services.

    1. Hi, Kris! All of our information is accurate and verifiable. I spend a LOT of time researching all of this information and I never publish anything that isn’t true. You’re welcome to check my sources.

      Here’s a statement from the USDA (the federal agency in charge of food stamps) verifying that you can purchase certain energy drinks, live animals, pumpkins, gift baskets, birthday cakes and other items.

      I did not say you could purchase ready-to-eat foods at the stores, but you can get deli foods (like popcorn chicken) which are no longer hot or ready-to-eat because they have been refrigerated and must be reheated prior to eating. At my local grocer, those items have an “EBT Approved” label on them. Papa Murphy’s is well-known for accepting EBT.

      Our article on the Restaurant Meals Program is well-cited with links to appropriate county government resources.

      And finally, here’s a link to the Comcast website, which advertises the $9.95 rate and here’s a link to the FCC website with some information about the Lifeline Subsidy.

      It definitely varies depending on which state you live in. That’s why we have a state-by-state list of benefits published right here.

      Have a great day, Kris!

    2. I have charter spectrum for 20 dollars a month and my next door neighbor gets att u verse for 10 dollars a month all i had to was call and tell them i had a link card no charge for installation or anything i didnt even have to pay for the boxes and no monthly charge for the boxes either also no taxes my bill says 20 dollars every month no hidden fees i even had a past debt for charter they didn’t even make me pay that back first.

    3. Actually all of this checked out! Comcast does indeed offer $10 internet, however, when I called to sign up, it was for low income families with school age children so they had internet access to do homework or school related projects (obviously not limited to those things either)…..I never heard her mention anything about “ready to eat” foods, but yes some in our Krogers allow you to use your food stamps (and the food is labeled) if it has been refrigerated and needs to be reheated. And I’ve purchased Red Bulls countless times with my EBT card (I get up at 4am for work)at grocery stores and gas stations alike. I’m sure each state has their own set of rules, but generally speaking, I’ve had no issues in Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois and Florida (Ive moved around a lot) with any of the above regarding EBT!!!

  6. hello i see a link for help with a computer but the link is not working is it possible for you to repost it.

  7. Your kinda awesome! So many people look down on people who are struggling. It’s so very nice to see people helping people. Great info easy to maneuver through. Keep being you girlie!!!

  8. Im always looking for places and things to do with my little one In the summer. I live in ky and receiver snap and Medicaid. I would like to find out places that I can take her for free or cheap. Here in ky and Tn. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi, Sheila! That’s a great question. You can see everything I know about EBT and Medicaid discounts at lowincomerelief.com/ebt. Just select Kentucky and Tennessee from the state list near the end of the article! 🙂 I update these monthly, so be sure to check back for updates!

  9. Do you know if I can use my Colorado Ebt card in the state of California? Since I am going to be there for a whole month. Thanks in advance 🙂

  10. Hi!! Any help in Georgia with coastal electric? I didn’t see them on the list… Thank you so much for everything!!

  11. I was reading “What you can buy with food stamps” just wanted to inform you that I buy baby formula and baby snacks with food stamps. I also accidentally found out you can buy baby bottles here in Tx.

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