Solutions Blog

How SNAP works

A senior woman examines a bag of tri-colored bell peppers in the produce aisle of a grocery store.

Let’s say you applied for SNAP and you get enrolled and get your EBT card. Now what? Ever wonder what you can and cannot buy with your card? Here’s what you can do with your new SNAP benefits.

What can you buy with SNAP?

SNAP is used at most grocery and convenience stores to buy most food items. It can be used for things like fresh produce, meat, canned and boxed goods, deli meats and cheeses. While not the most nutritious choice, you can use SNAP to buy snack items like chips, cookies, and soda.

SNAP participants can also buy plants and seeds that grow food. If you are elderly or disabled, some low-cost meal programs like Meals on Wheels can take SNAP as well.

You cannot use SNAP to buy tobacco, alcohol, hot prepared foods, supplements or vitamins, pet food, or household supplies (like toilet paper or diapers). If you see someone using an EBT card to pay for things that aren’t food, it’s because they are receive cash assistance on the same card.

Where can you use SNAP?

Most supermarkets, grocery stores, and convenience or corner stores accept SNAP. There are over 260,000 retailers who take part.

Besides grocery stores, many farmers markets accept SNAP. In Minnesota, many of them also take part in a program called Market Bucks. Market Bucks doubles the money SNAP customers can spend dollar-for-dollar. (To find out more about Market Bucks or find a participating farmers market, call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.)

To find a list of all vendors that accept EBT, click here.

What do people buy with SNAP?

Research shows that people spend SNAP on the same foods as everyone else. 40 cents of every dollar goes to basics like bread, milk, meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

Easy ways to help!

1 Donate
2 Sign up
3 Advocate