7 Surprising Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps

Once you start to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is commonly referred to as food stamps, you might wonder how to make the most of your new benefits. This program has a long history. It launched in 1939 with two colors of stamps. The orange stamps could be used by an individual to buy any food. People could use the blue stamps to purchase food identified by the federal government as a surplus good. Today, food stamps work a little differently. They're an electronic benefit loaded onto a card that you swipe at the card reading kiosk. Let's take a look at what you can buy with your food stamps, including some items that you might not have realized were eligible under this nutrition assistance program.

1. Seeds

You can buy fruit and vegetable seeds with your food stamps. Seed packets only cost a couple of dollars, and you may even find them at discount stores and dollar stores for less than $1. With some good soil, sunshine and water, you can turn your tiny investment into a bounty of fresh produce. Even if you don't have any green thumbs, growing tomatoes, pole beans, snap peas and fresh herbs is easy. If you don't have a backyard, you can grow all of these in pots on a patio, porch or windowsill.

2. Birthday Cakes

Many households that receive food stamps include young children. When the child's birthday rolls around, it's fun to celebrate with a cake. Buying the ingredients to make a cake can add up, and if you don't have an oven or the right pans to bake a cake, you might wonder about your options. You can use your food stamps to buy a birthday cake from the bakery of the grocery store. The bakery can customize the cake for you with the decorations of your choice and a special message for your child.

3. Caffeinated Drinks

Many people rely on caffeine to get through the day. No matter whether you prefer your caffeine in soda (or perhaps you call it pop or even "Coke"), hot or iced tea or coffee or an energy drink, you can use your food stamps to buy all of these items. You just can't use your food stamps to purchase hot prepared coffee. You can buy whole or ground coffee beans, tea bags or loose-leaf tea, individual bottles or cans or cases of soda and individual bottled energy drinks or packs of energy drinks. You can even buy coffee pods for Keurig machines with your food stamps allotment.

4. Protein Bars

If you follow the Atkins diet, you can use your food stamps to buy protein bars, including the popular Atkins brand. Food stamps also work on other brands of protein bars. You can buy them individually or buy the case with your food stamps benefits.

5. Emergency Rations

You never know when an emergency will strike. Your area could be affected by a natural disaster that makes it impossible to get to the grocery store. If you only have perishable food in your home, you may find yourself with nothing to eat after a couple of days. In a period of extreme heat, a loss of power could render all of your perishables unsafe for consumption within just a few hours. Food stamps can be used to buy emergency rations, including meals-ready-to-eat and freeze-dried foods. You can purchase emergency ration kits with your food stamps on Amazon or from other retailers that accept electronic benefits transfer (EBT) payments.

6. Edible Decorations

Many people enjoy baking. If one of your favorite activities involves baking cupcakes and decorating them, you can purchase the frosting, sprinkles and other edible decorations with your food stamps. The jimmies, dusting sugar, fondant and other edible decor for cookies and treats. However, you can't use the food stamps allotment to purchase cupcake holders, birthday candles, baking pans or other items that aren't edible.

7. Food on Amazon

If you already have an Amazon Prime membership, you can get great deals using your EBT with Amazon Prime and Amazon Pantry. Many items are available through these subscription services at a lower price. Their house brands are often only available through the membership. Keep in mind that you can't pay for the Amazon Prime subscription fee with your food stamps.

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