Can alcohol be purchased with food stamps?


SNAP, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and administered by each state, provides monthly benefits to low-income households across the United States. SNAP has purchase restrictions and benefits can only be used on certain items.

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According to the USDA, EBT cards, which are tied to SNAP accounts, can only be used at certain locations to purchase:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat and fish.
  • Dairy.
  • Breads and cereals.
  • Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household.

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The USDA explicitly states that SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase:

  • Beer, wine, alcohol, cigarettes or tobacco.
  • Vitamins, medications and anything with a Supplement Facts label.
  • Live animals (except crustaceans, fish taken out of the water and animals slaughtered before removal from the store).
  • Hot food at the point of sale.
  • All non-food items.

SNAP EBT cards cannot be used to purchase beer, wine or spirits. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) noted that in 2012 the federal government imposed restrictions in place to prevent the use of EBT cards at liquor stores, gambling venues or gaming or adult entertainment establishments.

Low Income Relief also reported that your EBT card cannot be used to withdraw money for your Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits at ATMs located at liquor stores, casinos, racetracks and adult entertainment establishments, as they sell alcohol and other prohibited goods and services. .

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If you attempt to purchase alcohol with your EBT card, the transaction will likely be declined. But, withdrawing cash from an authorized location generally cannot be attributed to the purchase, Low Income Relief noted.

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