Products That Cannot Be Purchased With Food Stamps

In this article...
  • Food stamp programs provide funds for low-income individuals to purchase healthy foods. Learn about the program and what can be purchased with food stamps.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that provides funds to low-income individuals and families to supplement food costs. The funds are distributed once per month on debit cards, and recipients can use the cards at all grocery stores that accept snap. Benefit amounts typically range from $234 to $1408 and higher, depending on how many eligible individuals live within a household. While SNAP is commonly referred to as food stamps, the Food Stamp Program name was officially changed to SNAP in 2008 when paper food stamps were replaced with debit cards. 

What Products Cannot Be Purchased With Food Stamps?

Food stamps or SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine or hard alcohol, pet food, medications and vitamin supplements and foods that are hot at point of sale. With the exception of fish removed from water, shellfish and animals slaughtered prior to pickup from the market, recipients cannot use SNAP benefits to purchase live animals. Household supplies, hygienic supplies, cosmetics and paper supplies are also ineligible items. 

In 2019, a bill was introduced in the state of Texas to prohibit SNAP recipients from using their benefit cards to purchase items such as carbonated beverages, cookies, chips and other types of junk food. However,
the bill was not passed or introduced into law. 

Are Food Stamp Programs Offered in Every State?

SNAP benefits are offered in all 50 states. Maximum income levels are the same in all U.S. states except Alaska and Hawaii, where the income levels are higher. While all food stamp programs are funded by the government program SNAP, the states are in charge of disbursement of benefits, and some state food stamp programs have different names. For example, California's food stamp program is called Cal-Fresh, and Arizona's program is referred to as Nutrition Assistance. 

What Are the Income Requirements to Receive Food Stamps?

SNAP recipients must meet certain income requirements and fall within 130% of the poverty level in gross earnings and 100% of the poverty level in net earnings. As of 2022, the monthly income limits to receive food stamps or SNAP benefits in all states except Alaska and Hawaii are as follows: 

  • Single individual household: $1,396 gross and $1,074 net monthly income
  • 2-person household: $1,888 gross and $1,452 net monthly income
  • 3-person household: $2,379 gross and $1,830 net monthly income
  • 4-person household: $2,871 gross and $2,209 net monthly income
  • 5-person household: $3,363 gross and $2,587 net monthly income
  • 6-person household: $3,855 gross and $2,965 net monthly income
  • 7-person household: $4,347 gross and $3,344 net monthly income
  • 8-person household: $4,839 gross and $3,722 net monthly income

How Long Can People Participate in the Food Stamp Program?

Typically, able-bodied individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 who aren't pregnant and don't have children can receive food stamp benefits for approximately 3 months in a 3-year period if they meet the income qualifications. However, qualified recipients in this category may be eligible for additional food stamps if they can prove that they are working or participating in a work training program at a minimum of 80 hours each month. 

For qualified individuals with dependents under the age of 18 or over the age of 50, there is
no time limit for receiving food stamps. Individuals in this demographic can receive food stamps as long as they continue to meet the program's requirements. 

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