List of foods you can buy with EBT Card

"List of eligible food stamps items"

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2019)
We get questions from EBT Card holders about the list of foods you can buy with EBT Card. In this article, we will answer the question in detail. The Food Stamps program or SNAP program is intended to provide nutritional food to those eligible. There are strict guidelines about what you can buy with the card and what you cannot. If you are caught using the card to buy an item not permitted or a service, you are committing EBT Card Fraud and if caught could face jail time.

Most Common Questions about EBT Food List

Here are the most common questions we get from our readers regarding the food stamps eligible food list:

  • Can I buy Baby Food/Infant Formula with SNAP benefits? The Answer is YES. This includes infant formula, cereals, juices, and baby food in boxes and jars.
  • Can you buy hot food with SNAP Card? The Answer is NO.
  • Can you buy Slimfast with Food Stamps? The Answer is generally YES, but your state may prohibit it – so check with your state’s food stamp program.
  • How about dog food? The Answer is NO.
    "List of foods you can buy with EBT Card"

List of foods you can buy with EBT Card

The items you can buy with your card is governed by The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 which defines eligible food as any food or food product for home consumption and also includes seeds and plants which produce food for consumption by SNAP households. You are allowed to use your SNAP benefits card to buy foods that your household will eat, including the following :

  • breads and cereals
  • fruits and vegetables
  • meats, fish and poultry; and
  • dairy products
  • Seeds and plants to produce food for the household to eat
  • Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream
  • Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes
  • Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label
  • Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible

Now that you know what you can buy with your SNAP card, here is the list of things you CANNOT buy with the card:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, diapers, and household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods
  • Live animals

NOTE: In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals. For more details, visit the USDA’s website.

Food Stamps Fraud

If you buy foods or items that are not on the approved list, you are committing food stamps fraud. As we mentioned earlier, that can land you in jail.

The USDA is serious about arresting business owners who allow cardholders to use their benefits for illegal items. Also, EBT cardholders who are caught not only could go to jail but are may be denied future benefits, in some cases FOREVER.

In addition, do not sell your EBT card for cash. It is not worth taking the chance to use your EBT Card for what it is not intended for. 

Possible Punishment for Food Stamps Fraud

Here are the possible penalties you could face if you are caught committing food stamps fraud:

  • A jail or prison sentence — possibly served in a federal prison
  • Expensive fines and court fees
  • A permanent criminal record that can affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment
  • Loss of your food stamp benefits
  • An order to pay restitution
  • Possible effects on your immigration status if you’re a non-U.S. citizen, including deportation or denial of your application for an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship

If you are charged with food stamp fraud in a federal court, the possible penalties are based on the nature of the fraud, and the dollar value of the food stamp benefit involved. Here is the range of penalties:

  • Less than $100 — The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. And any property used in the commission of the offense may be forfeit.
  • $100 to $5,000 — The offense is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 on a first offense. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum 6-month sentence, and up to 5 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Any property used in the commission of the offense may be forfeit.
  • $5,000 or more — The offense is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Any property used in the commission of the offense may be forfeit.

In addition to possible jail time, you will lose your food stamps benefits if you are found guilty of food stamps fraud. Here is how long you may lose your benefits based on how many times you’ve been caught committing food stamps fraud. 

Fraud ViolationPenalty
First fraud/intentional program violation12-month ban from receiving food stamps
Second fraud/intentional program violation24-month ban from receiving food stamps
Third fraud/intentional program violationPermanent ban from receiving food stamps
Providing false statement with respect to identity or place of residence in order to receive multiple food stamps benefit simultaneously10-year ban from receiving food stamps

As you can see, food stamps fraud has serious consequences. You should only spend food stamps on the approved food items at approved food stamps locations

Popular EBT Store Questions

Here are some popular questions about places that accept EBT we think you will find useful:

We hope this post was helpful to you. If you have any questions regarding what you can and cannot buy with your EBT card, please leave it comments section below. We love to hear from you!

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