Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- breads and cereals
- fruits and vegetables
- meats, fish, and poultry
- dairy products
Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies
- Vitamins and medicines
- Food that will be eaten in the store
- Hot foods
“Junk Food” & Luxury Items
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) 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. The Act prohibits the following items from being purchased with SNAP benefits: alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption. Nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, medicines and vitamins, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics, also are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.
Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are food items and are therefore eligible items.
Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items.
When considering the eligibility of energy drinks, and other branded products, the primary determinant is the type of product label chosen by the manufacturer to conform to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines:
- Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label are eligible foods.
- Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible.
Generally live animals and birds are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. Live seafood such as lobsters, fish and shellfish may be purchased with SNAP benefits.
Pumpkins are edible and eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. However, inedible gourds and pumpkins that are used solely for ornamental purposes are not eligible items.
Gift baskets that contain both food and non-food items are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50 percent of the purchase price. To read the most recent notice about gift baskets, click here.
Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the cake.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).” Food and Nutrition Service, 17 Nov. 2017, www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items