The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal assistance program designed to help low-income families buy groceries. However, many people are not aware of the surprising range of items that can be purchased with food stamps beyond just basic food staples.
Let’s start in this unthinkable place: did you know that you can buy seeds and plants with SNAP benefits? That’s right! SNAP participants can use their benefits to purchase seeds and plants that produce food for their households. This includes fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can be grown in a garden or even in containers on a balcony. Not only does this provide families with fresh produce, but it also promotes healthy eating habits and self-sustainability.
Some other interesting items you can actually buy with SNAP EBT card
Another surprising item that can be purchased with food stamps is energy drinks. Could sound a little odd, but it is actually true. While many people may assume that energy drinks are not essential and therefore not covered by SNAP, they are in fact eligible for purchase. Now, there’s a little catch: energy drinks are not considered a food item, but rather a supplement. Therefore, they are only allowed if they have a nutrition facts label and are intended as a meal replacement or supplement for a specific dietary need.
I bet that you didn’t actually know you could purchase with SNAP benefits’ EBT cards. This includes fish, lobster, and even live clams and oysters. For your health and safety, make sure that the seafood is fresh and safe to eat, but for those who enjoy seafood, this can be a great way to get high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids without breaking the bank.
Outside the groceries aisles, SNAP benefits can also be used for certain non-food items, such as diapers and baby formula. This can be a huge help for low-income families with young children, who may struggle to afford these necessities. It’s important to note that only specific brands and types of diapers and formula are eligible, so be sure to check with your local SNAP office to see which ones qualify.
Things you CAN’T buy with your EBT card
Products that cannot be bought with SNAP benefits include alcohol, tobacco, hot prepared foods, and non-food items like cleaning supplies, toiletries, and pet food. Additionally, vitamins, supplements, and medicines are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.
Furthermore, you can’t buy cookware, as well as non-food items like magazines, newspapers, and gift cards. You better always check the SNAP products list that you can purchase in the state you receive your benefits at.
Do all stores accept SNAP benefits?
Not all stores accept SNAP benefits, but most grocery stores do. SNAP benefits are loaded onto an EBT card, which is used like a debit card to make food purchases. EBT cards are accepted at nearly 9,000 retail businesses in North Carolina, including many farmers’ markets, as well as many other retailers. To find other stores in your area that accept EBT cards, check out the SNAP Retail Locator from
To be authorized to accept SNAP benefits, stores must meet certain standards prescribed under federal law, including stocking a certain quantity and variety of staple foods and having more than 50% of its total gross retail sales from the sale of staple foods. Specialty stores, like butcher shops, may also be authorized under Criterion B