EBT cards, issued to recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and other government assistance programs, can be a helpful buffer to support your food supply when your monthly budget falls short.
Many stigmas surrounding EBT use have created misconceptions about foods that are not acceptable to purchase with EBT. While the USDA has specific guidelines on the items that are eligible for EBT purchases, there are many surprising things that you can use your benefits for.
Are you eyeing a Slurpee and wondering if you can use EBT to quench your thirst? It’s time to reward yourself and cool off with one of your favorite treats, as you would be amazed to learn that you can use your EBT benefits to buy a Slurpee.
Here, we dive deeper into what makes Slurpees eligible for EBT purchases and other surprising purchases you can make. We also tackle some of the stigmas that make EBT a controversial topic of discussion.
A Brief History of EBT
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formally known as Food Stamps, has an extensive history that reaches back several decades. At the end of the great depression, much of the nation was still feeling the effects of a substantial economic downturn and widespread hunger. In an effort to stave off hunger, the federal government devised a way to feed the masses at little cost. Thus, the first iteration of the food stamps was born.
The program would undergo many changes throughout the decades to reduce the likelihood of fraud and simplify its rules. As a result, the EBT card was introduced in order to digitize the program in the mid-80s. These changes continued up until the form of EBT that we recognize today.
How to Use EBT Correctly
Your EBT benefits open a wide range of possibilities for you to keep food on the table. You can use EBT to purchase cold or nonperishable food items wherever EBT benefits are accepted. This can include your favorite grocery store, buying snacks at the gas station, or your local farmers market.
Your EBT benefits make it easier for you to shop for a wide range of food items. But it’s crucial to know what your benefits don’t cover. For instance, if you want to stop in your favorite store and grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner, you’ll be disappointed because it isn’t eligible for an EBT purchase.
Also, you aren’t able to buy other hot items you may have on your grocery list as they aren’t included in your EBT benefits.
Other items and products that are ineligible for EBT purchases include
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Paper Products
- Pet food
- Household cleaning supplies
You’ll have to have other funds available to purchase ineligible items on your list, so you can still have everything that you need.
But, if you’re craving an ice-cold Slurpee, go ahead and use your EBT card as it is covered under your benefits as a cold item.
Surprising Items You Can Buy With EBT
There are many items eligible for EBT purchases that catch many people by surprise. For instance, if you’re an avid gardener, you can EBT funds to buy seeds to grow your own fruits and vegetables. This can be helpful for families who want to cut down on their long-term produce costs.
Also, some restaurants allow patrons to pay for their meals by using EBT through the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). But, it’s crucial for you to live in a state that offers it, and you must fit the criteria of experiencing homelessness, having a disability, or being among the elderly.
Other items you can purchase with your EBT benefits include
- Some energy drink brands
- Frozen seafood
- Deli sushi
But, one thing to note is that the items you can purchase may vary depending on your location. So be sure to do research before going out to make your purchases.
How Many People Use EBT
Many rely on EBT benefits to help offset rising food costs and stagnant wages. The state of New Mexico has the highest rate of EBT use, with nearly 25% of the population relying on EBT. The United States has 38 million people using EBT.
How EBT Benefits Its Users
EBT gives its users a tool to help cover food costs and prevent hunger. Food assistance can provide families with better food choices and keep them healthier in the long run. One study suggests that families with inadequate food access spend more on healthcare than those with more food security.
Social Stigmas Surrounding EBT Use
Unfortunately, some people report instances in which they’ve experienced mistreatment from others due to using EBT. Some people have biases toward those who use government assistance, believing them to be lazy, uneducated, and looking to siphon off government resources. Also, some people think that specific ethnic backgrounds are the primary recipients and users of government assistance.
These kinds of beliefs are unfounded and harmful and make some people fearful and ashamed of using their benefits.
Getting Access To Healthy Food
Although EBT benefits help keep people fed, many people feel that EBT doesn’t provide enough relief to combat rising food costs. For instance, the USDA reports that some lawmakers have changed eligibility requirements for stores to participate in EBT authorization. Some argue that these changes in eligibility limit options for consumers and make it a challenge to access healthy food options.
EBT provides people with a buffer to cushion them against high food prices and it. Some stigmas make EBT use difficult to bear for some. But EBT is an essential tool that helps keep many families afloat. The USDA has a specific set of guidelines families must follow in order to make food purchases, with cold food products being predominant on the list.
As the debate surrounding food security in the United States continues, understanding how EBT benefits you is crucial to making the most of your monthly disbursement.
While some people have unfounded beliefs regarding who receives benefits and may even be unkind to EBT recipients, EBT remains a significant part of how some families survive.
But, when you’ve taken care of all your food needs, make sure you grab a Slurpee and enjoy one of the sweeter benefits of having EBT.