What are food stamps and how do you use them?
Food stamps are part of SNAP, which is a government plan that helps low income or disadvantaged people afford a nutritious meal. If you qualify for this plan, you will receive “food stamps” which can be used like cash to buy items at stores. There are some very important differences between food stamps and cash.
Food stamps can only be used to buy specific items in stores. Not everything in a store can be paid for using food stamps. Only items that the government considers food can be bought using food stamps. For example food stamps can buy: breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, seeds and plants used to grow food, soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and bakery cakes. There are many items that food stamps cannot buy such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food, pet foods, soaps, paper products, medicines, vitamins, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics. Only a few restaurants will accept food stamps.
Not all stores accept food stamps. The stores that accept food stamps usually display a sign near the door that says “we accept food stamps”, “E.B.T accepted” or “SNAP benefits accepted”.
You cannot exchange your food stamps for cash.
You cannot pay for items that are not covered by food stamps at the same time as items that are covered by food stamps. At the checkout counter, you will need to separate the items covered by food stamps from the items that are not covered by food stamps and do two separate transactions. Some stores may help you with this. Please tell the cashier that you are paying with an “E.B.T card” or “food stamps” before you start your transaction.
Food stamps come on a debit card known as an “EBT card”. Your EBT card has a certain number of food stamps on it. After the cashier rings up your order, swipe the E.B.T card and enter your personal identification number in the machine. The number of food stamps used during your transaction will be removed from your card. The cashier will then give you a receipt for your purchase. The remaining food stamps will stay on your card until you wish to use them.
Food Stamps are added to your EBT card every month. Your credited amount depends on your income, the number of people living in your house, and disability (if you have one). For all the details on how many food stamps you will get, go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility