The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the most significant effort in America to combat hunger. In 2021, 41.5 million people received food security through SNAP, with each recipient receiving an average benefit of $218.14, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In order to receive funds and make purchases, recipients use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which can be used for much more than just basic groceries. Here are some of the more unusual purchases that SNAP will make.
Energy drinks are only permitted to be purchased with SNAP funds if they adhere to the rigid requirements of the USDA. New York SNAP EBT states that an energy drink qualifies if it bears a “nutritional facts” label.
A supplement is one that bears the label “supplemental facts,” in which case EBT cannot be used to pay for it. In contrast, 5 Hour Energy, Bang Shot, and Tweaker are not acceptable. This means that Red Bull, Rockstar, and Starbucks Double Shot pass the test.
You can make your own coffee and tea.
You can purchase packaged coffee with SNAP, along with creamer and K-cups made for Keurig machines. But you cannot purchase coffee that is prepared for consumption.
That won’t work, either, if you intend to make your own coffee at home and only drink tea elsewhere.
Due to the USDA’s prohibition against using SNAP funds to purchase any hot beverages, tea is also only available in packaged and unbrewed forms.
Even if you live in a rural area and hunt your own food, you can’t just swipe your EBT card at Bass Pro Shops to buy a new fibreglass rod, but a very small percentage of people can get SNAP benefits for hunting and fishing equipment.
According to the USDA, some Alaskans who live in the most remote areas rely almost entirely on hunting and fishing to provide for their families because grocery shopping is so challenging for them.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issues special identification cards to households that qualify. They are permitted to purchase items like nets, rods, harpoons, lines, and knives but not firearms and ammunition.
If you don’t meet the requirements for the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) and reside in one of the participating states, you cannot use SNAP to pay for meals eaten in restaurants.
The elderly, those who are homeless, and the disabled are among the vulnerable groups served by RMP.
Participating eateries are required to provide meals to eligible customers at “concession prices.”
Few states participate in RMP, even though it is not as constrained as Alaska’s subsistence hunting programme. It is accessible throughout California, Arizona, Michigan, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as in some of Rhode Island’s counties.
Vegetation and Seeds
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The USDA permits SNAP recipients to use their EBT cards to purchase food-producing plants like tomato plants or edible plants like basil as well as seeds for growing their own food.
The USDA claims that for every dollar spent on seeds and fertiliser, you can grow $25 worth of produce, but according to Modern Farmer, this crucial provision is one of the least well-known elements of the entire SNAP programme.
At any SNAP-approved retailer, including farmer’s markets, you can purchase seeds and plants using your EBT card.