Can Food Stamps Be Used Online? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that in most states, food stamps can now be used online? It’s a game changer for those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table. No longer do you have to wait in long lines at grocery stores or worry about going to multiple locations to get all the food you need for the week. With the click of a button, you can order your groceries from the comfort of your own home and have them delivered straight to your doorstep.

But why stop there? With the rise of food delivery services and meal kit companies, those on food stamps can now expand their options beyond traditional grocery stores. From Blue Apron to Freshly, there are a multitude of options for those looking for easy meal solutions. By being able to use food stamps online, those who may not have had access to these services before can now have healthy, convenient meals delivered right to their door.

Of course, there are still obstacles to overcome. Not all online retailers accept food stamps, and there are certain restrictions on what can and cannot be purchased. However, the option to use food stamps online is a step in the right direction towards making healthy eating more accessible for everyone. So, whether you’re looking to save time on grocery shopping or expand your food options, be sure to take advantage of this new and convenient way to use your food stamps.

Overview of Food Stamps

Food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a government-run assistance program designed to provide a reliable source of food for people in need. The program operates under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and its primary goal is reducing hunger and malnutrition among low-income communities across the country.

  • To qualify for food stamps, individuals must meet specific criteria, including low income, citizenship status, and asset limitations.
  • The program benefits recipients by providing a monthly allowance typically loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that can be used to purchase eligible food items from authorized retailers.
  • The amount of benefits provided to a household depends on various factors such as income, family size, and expenses.

Currently, food stamps can be redeemed at physical stores, farmer’s markets, and other authorized retailers. However, in response to the ongoing pandemic, the USDA and the SNAP program have announced plans to expand the use of food stamps to include online purchases from approved retailers.

This initiative aims to provide easier access to healthy food choices for people who may face transportation barriers, live in food deserts, or have underlying medical issues. The move also aims to promote social distancing as customers can order groceries online and have them delivered or picked up without the need to visit physical stores.

While the process of expanding the online program is still ongoing, the addition of online purchasing will provide millions of eligible recipients the flexibility of ordering groceries from the comfort of their homes, thus removing barriers to obtaining nutritious food.

Eligible FoodsIneligible Foods
Fruits and VegetablesPet Food and Supplies
Meat, Poultry, and EggsHot Foods
Milk and Dairy ProductsAlcohol, Tobacco, and Other Non-food Items
Bread, Cereal, and Other Grain-Based ProductsVitamins and Medicines

The USDA has provided a list of eligible and ineligible food items for purchase with SNAP benefits. Eligible items include fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and bread. Pet food, hot foods, and non-food items such as alcohol and tobacco are considered ineligible.

Overall, the SNAP program has been a crucial lifeline for low-income individuals and families across the United States. With the expansion of online purchasing abilities, the program is set to help even more people access nutritious food options to build healthier lives.

Timeline of Food Stamp Program

The Food Stamp Program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has a history that dates back to the 1930s. This program was created as a part of the New Deal social welfare programs to give aid to citizens who were struggling with poverty and hunger during the Great Depression.

The timeline of the Food Stamp Program includes significant changes and developments, which have led to its expansion and success over the years.

Important Milestones of Food Stamp Program

  • 1939-1943: Food stamp programs initiated in different states
  • 1961: Pilot program begins to test ebt technology
  • 1977: Food Stamp Act of 1977 was passed
  • 2002: Food Stamp program name officially changed to SNAP
  • 2019: USDA expands online SNAP purchasing

Recent Developments in Online SNAP Purchasing

Online grocery shopping has been gaining immense popularity in recent years, and the SNAP program has been keeping up with technological advancements. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive surge in online shopping, and SNAP users have been eagerly waiting for online purchasing to be added to the program.

The USDA launched a pilot program in 2017 to test the feasibility of allowing SNAP recipients to shop online. Initially, it was a limited number of states that participated, but in 2019, the program expanded to serve more than 35 states. Now, SNAP recipients can order groceries online from approved retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and others.

SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot Program

The pilot program launched by the USDA is designed to ensuring that approved retailers meet the necessary requirements to accept SNAP payments online. Retailers are required to possess secure systems and provide delivery services in areas with SNAP beneficiaries.

Approved RetailersDelivery Services
AmazonAmazon Prime members
WalmartWalmart Grocery Delivery, Pickup
ALDIALDI delivery service

The program aims to improve the accessibility and convenience of the SNAP program and improve the overall shopping experience of SNAP beneficiaries.

In conclusion, the history and timeline of the Food Stamp Program’s development have led to its growth and evolution into the SNAP program. The recent additions to online SNAP purchasing show that this program strives to meet the changing needs of its participants, making it a more accessible and user-friendly program.

Eligibility Criteria for Food Stamps

Food stamp benefits, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal program designed to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health. However, not everyone qualifies. To receive the benefits, you must meet certain eligibility criteria set by the USDA, which oversees the program.

Basic Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident with a Green Card
  • You must have a social security number to verify your identity
  • You must meet income limits, which vary by state and household size

Additional Eligibility Requirements

In addition to the basic requirements, there are additional eligibility criteria you must meet to receive SNAP benefits. These include:

  • Asset Limits: Your household assets must be below a certain limit, which varies by state. Assets include bank accounts, property, and vehicles.
  • Work Requirements: If you’re between the ages of 18 and 49 and don’t have a disability, you must work at least 20 hours a week, participate in a work program, or qualify for an exemption to receive SNAP benefits.
  • Immigration Status: If you’re an immigrant, you must meet specific immigration criteria to be eligible for SNAP benefits.

Income Eligibility Guidelines

Income limits are set by the federal government and are used to determine who is eligible for SNAP benefits, based on household size and income. The income eligibility guidelines are updated annually, and each state has its own set of guidelines that may differ slightly from the federal guidelines.

Household SizeMaximum Gross Monthly IncomeMaximum Net Monthly Income

It’s important to note that these income limits are only part of the eligibility criteria, and other factors such as asset limits and work requirements may also apply.

Benefits of Food Stamps

Food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the United States, provide assistance to low-income families in purchasing food. The benefits of the program are numerous and go beyond just helping families afford to put food on their tables. Here are some of the key benefits of food stamps:

  • Improving nutrition and health: With food stamps, families are able to purchase more nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, which can lead to better overall health.
  • Boosting the economy: SNAP benefits stimulate the economy by increasing spending in grocery stores and other food retailers.
  • Reducing poverty and hunger: Food stamps help to reduce poverty and hunger, which in turn can lead to better outcomes for children in areas such as education and employment.

Can Food Stamps Be Used Online?

With the rise of online shopping, many people wonder if they can use their food stamps to purchase groceries online. While the answer used to be no, recent changes have made it possible for some families to use their benefits online.

As of 2021, over half of all states in the U.S. allow food stamp recipients to use their benefits to purchase groceries online through certain retailers. However, the availability of online purchasing varies by state, and not all retailers accept SNAP benefits online. Additionally, some families may be required to have a credit or debit card to complete the transaction, as SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery fees or other charges.

How to Check if Your State Allows Online Purchasing with Food Stamps

If you are a food stamp recipient and are interested in using your benefits to purchase groceries online, you can check if your state participates in the program by visiting the USDA’s website. They have a list of states that allow online purchasing and the participating retailers in each state. It’s important to note that this list is updated frequently, so it’s a good idea to check back periodically for updates.

StateParticipating Retailers
New YorkAmazon, Walmart, ShopRite
CaliforniaWalmart, Amazon, Safeway, Aldi, Food Maxx
FloridaWalmart, Amazon, Aldi, Publix
TexasAmazon, Walmart

While the ability to use food stamps online has not yet been fully adopted nationwide, it is an important step towards making the program more accessible and convenient for those who rely on it to feed their families.

Limitations of Food Stamps

Despite the many benefits that food stamps provide, there are still several limitations that come with using them. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at five of the most common limitations of food stamps:

  • Eligibility restrictions: In order to receive food stamps, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements vary by state, but generally include factors such as income, household size, and citizenship status. This means that not everyone who needs assistance will qualify for food stamps.
  • Purchasing limitations: While food stamps can be used to buy a wide variety of food items, there are certain things that they cannot be used for. For example, you cannot use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, pet food, or non-food items like soap or paper towels.
  • Benefit amounts: The amount of food stamps that a household receives is based on a number of factors, including income and household size. However, the maximum benefit amount is set by the government, and may not be enough to fully cover a household’s needs. In addition, benefit amounts can change from year to year based on changes in the cost of living.
  • Use at farmers markets: While many food stamp recipients would like to use their benefits to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets, not all markets accept food stamps. Even those that do may have limitations on the types of food that can be purchased with food stamps.
  • Availability of participating retailers: Food stamps can only be used at participating retailers, which may be limited in certain areas. This can make it difficult for food stamp recipients who live in rural or under-served areas to access healthy, affordable food options.


While food stamps can be a valuable resource for families and individuals who struggle to afford enough food, there are several limitations that can hinder their effectiveness. In order to address these limitations and ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food, it’s important to advocate for policies that support food stamp recipients and encourage participation by retailers and farmers markets.

How to Apply for Food Stamps

Food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a government-provided assistance program that helps low-income households to purchase nutritious food. Applying for food stamps can be a daunting task, but it is worth it if you meet the eligibility requirements. Here is a step-by-step guide on applying for food stamps:

  • Gather necessary documents: Before you start the application process, make sure you have all the necessary documents. You will need to provide proof of income, identity, and residency, as well as any expenses related to housing and utilities.
  • Submit an application: You can apply for food stamps either online or in person. You can find the online application on your state’s Department of Social Services website. If you prefer to apply in person, you can visit your local Department of Social Services office.
  • Provide additional information: After submitting your application, you may need to provide additional information or documents. This could include an interview with a caseworker or further documentation of your income or expenses.

If you are eligible, you will receive a benefit card that works like a debit card. The benefits are automatically loaded each month, and you can use them to purchase food at participating retailers. It is worth noting that food stamps cannot be used to buy prepared foods, household supplies, or non-food items.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when applying for food stamps:

  • Forgetting to update your information: If your income or expenses change, you need to report it to your caseworker. Failure to do so can result in overpayments or underpayments.
  • Providing inaccurate information: Providing false information on your application can result in severe penalties, including fines, jail time, and loss of benefits.
  • Not responding promptly to requests for information: If your caseworker needs additional information or documents, it is important to respond promptly. Failure to do so can delay your benefits or cause your application to be denied.


Applying for food stamps can be a great way to ensure that you and your family have access to nutritious food. However, it is essential to understand the eligibility requirements and the application process to avoid mistakes and ensure that you receive the benefits you need.

Eligibility RequirementsIncome Limit (for a household of 4)
Resident of the state where applying$2,794/month (gross income)
US citizen or permanent resident$2,146/month (net income)
Work registration requirementsVaries by state

Keep in mind that eligibility requirements and income limits may vary by state and may change over time. Before applying for food stamps, it is a good idea to research the current requirements in your state and gather the necessary documents.

Accepted Products for Food Stamps

If you’re wondering what you can buy with food stamps, it’s important to know that there are a range of products that you can purchase. While there are restrictions on certain items, such as tobacco and alcohol, there are still plenty of options available to purchase with food stamps that can help you and your family eat healthy and balanced meals.

Eligible Food Items for Food Stamps

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
  • Meats, poultry, and fish products.
  • Breads and cereals.
  • Snack foods, including candy and soda, are eligible but are subject to certain restrictions.
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat.
  • Pretty much any food product that is meant for human consumption.

Non-Eligible Products for Food Stamps

While the list of eligible food items is quite extensive, there are certain products that are not available for purchase with food stamps:

  • Alcohol and tobacco products.
  • Pet food and supplies.
  • Cleaning products and household supplies.
  • Personal care items, such as soap and toothpaste.
  • Hot, prepared foods (with the exception of homeless individuals).
  • Vitamins and mineral supplements.

Using EBT Cards for Online Purchases

EBT Cards, or Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, are used to distribute food stamp benefits to eligible recipients. With the development of online grocery shopping, many individuals are wondering whether they can use their EBT cards to purchase food online. The good news is that yes, it is possible to use your EBT card to make online purchases under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

RetailerOnline Shopping Available?Delivery Available?
AmazonYesSome locations
WalmartYesYes, through Walmart’s pickup service
KrogerYesYes, through Kroger’s pickup service

Make sure to check with your state policies for specific rules and restrictions regarding online purchases for food stamps. The ability to use food stamps online has been especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing individuals to order groceries for delivery or pickup without leaving their homes.

Can Food Stamps be Used Online?

If you’re familiar with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, you may be wondering if it’s possible to use them to purchase groceries online. The answer is yes, but the process is not streamlined or available to everyone.

Who is Eligible to Shop for Groceries Online with Food Stamps?

  • Currently, only a handful of states allow food stamp recipients to use their benefits to purchase groceries online.
  • This is due in part to the fact that there are several challenges to implementing an online system that meets the USDA’s strict requirements for SNAP purchases.
  • In states where online SNAP purchases are available, only certain retailers are authorized to accept them.
  • Additionally, only certain devices can be used to process SNAP benefits online.

Challenges to Implementing an Online System for SNAP

One of the main difficulties in creating a system for SNAP beneficiaries to purchase groceries online is ensuring that the benefits are used only for eligible food items, like fruits, vegetables, and meats. Regulations around eligible purchases make it difficult to incorporate these requirements into an online system. Retailers also face the challenge of integrating their backend systems with the state or federal agencies that administer SNAP, which can be complex and time-consuming.

The system must also be accessible to low-income individuals, many of whom may not have internet access or devices that can process online purchases.

States that Allow Online SNAP Purchases

As of 2021, only 47 states offer SNAP benefits, and just over half of those states allow online purchases. The current states that permit SNAP online purchases include:

AlabamaWalmart, Amazon
ArizonaAmazon, Walmart, Wright’s Food Box
CaliforniaAmazon, FreshDirect, Safeway, Vons, Walmart
FloridaAldi, Amazon, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Publix, Walmart
GeorgiaAldi, Amazon, Food Depot, Instacart, Walmart

It’s important to keep in mind that retailers offering online SNAP purchases can vary by state, so it’s best to check with your local SNAP office to determine what options are available to you.

Approved Online Retailers for Food Stamps

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have been using food stamps to buy food online. However, not all online retailers are approved for food stamps. The USDA has authorized a select few retailers to accept food stamps for online purchases. Let’s take a closer look at these approved retailers.

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • ShopRite
  • Hy-Vee
  • Hannaford
  • Food Lion
  • ALDI
  • Price Chopper
  • Wright’s Markets

Before making any online purchase with food stamps, make sure to check if the retailer is approved by the USDA. You can also check with your state’s SNAP agency to see if they have a list of approved retailers for online purchases.

It’s important to note that not all online purchases are eligible for food stamps. For example, food stamps cannot be used to buy non-food items such as cleaning supplies or personal care items. Additionally, most retailers require a minimum purchase amount before accepting food stamps for online purchases.

RetailerMinimum Purchase Amount
Amazon$0 (No minimum purchase amount)
Food Lion$35
ALDINo online sales
Price Chopper$60
Wright’s Markets$50

By familiarizing yourself with the approved online retailers for food stamps, you can make the most out of your SNAP benefits and ensure that you’re able to purchase groceries for you and your family. So, go ahead and start shopping online for groceries today!

Challenges Faced in Online Use of Food Stamps

As more and more services are moving online, it’s essential that government programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, adapt to the changing times. However, there are several challenges faced in the online use of food stamps. Here are ten of the most significant challenges:

  • Access: Not everyone has access to the internet or a computer, making it difficult for some to access online resources and apply for SNAP benefits.
  • Technical infrastructure: Some areas may have limited or poor internet connectivity, preventing people from accessing online SNAP resources.
  • Language barriers: SNAP online resources may not be available in all languages, creating a barrier for non-English speakers to access the program.
  • Technology literacy: Some individuals may be unfamiliar with the technology required to apply for benefits online, making it difficult for them to participate in the program.
  • Accessibility issues: For individuals with disabilities, some SNAP online resources may not be accessible. For example, they may not be compatible with screen readers, making it impossible to use the website.
  • Eligibility verification: Some individuals may not have the necessary documentation to prove eligibility for SNAP benefits online, making it challenging to apply for the program.
  • Security and privacy: Ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive information provided online during the application process is essential. Consequently, some may be hesitant to apply online for SNAP benefits.
  • System glitches: As with any online platform, technical issues may arise, creating frustration and delaying the application process.
  • Cost: Some individuals may not have the financial means to access the internet or purchase a device needed to apply online, preventing them from using the service.
  • Availability: SNAP online resources may not be available 24/7, making it challenging for individuals who work or have other responsibilities to access the program.

While online access to SNAP benefits has several benefits, including reducing wait times and making it more convenient for individuals to apply for the program, it’s essential that these challenges are addressed to ensure that everyone can benefit from the program. Until these challenges are addressed, SNAP will need to provide alternative options for low-income households to participate in the program.

Can Food Stamps be Used Online: 7 FAQs

1) Can I use my food stamps to purchase groceries online?
Yes, you can use your food stamps to buy eligible food items online from approved retailers. This option is available in some states and is expanding to more in the future.

2) What stores accept food stamps online?
Retailers that are approved to accept food stamps online include Amazon, Walmart, and ShopRite. However, it’s important to note that not all states offer online purchasing with food stamps.

3) Are there any restrictions on what I can buy with food stamps online?
The same restrictions apply to online purchasing as they do to in-store purchasing. You can only use food stamps to buy eligible food items, such as meat, dairy, produce, and bread. Non-food items like toiletries, cleaning supplies, and pet food are not covered.

4) Can I use food stamps to pay for delivery fees and taxes?
No, unfortunately food stamps cannot be applied to delivery fees or taxes associated with online purchases. These fees and taxes will have to be paid with another method of payment.

5) How do I know if my state has approved online purchasing with food stamps?
Each state has its own system for implementing online purchasing with food stamps, so it’s best to check with your state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) office for more information.

6) Can I use both my EBT card and another form of payment online?
Yes, you have the option to split your payment between your EBT card and another form of payment, such as a debit or credit card. Just make sure to check with the retailer beforehand to see if they offer this option.

7) Is it safe to use my EBT card online?
Yes, using your EBT card online is safe and secure. Retailers follow the same security protocols for online transactions as they do for in-store purchases.

Closing Thoughts on Using Food Stamps Online

We hope this FAQ has been helpful in answering your questions about using food stamps online. Remember, online purchasing with food stamps is only available in some states and not all retailers are approved to accept it. As with any purchase, it’s always important to double-check the eligibility of items before checkout. Thank you for reading and feel free to visit back for more informative articles.