What Can You Buy with Food Stamps in Texas? Your Guide to Eligible Food Items

Are you a resident of Texas and unsure what you can purchase with food stamps? Look no further! Here’s a quick rundown of what you can buy with your SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in the Lone Star State.

Firstly, the most obvious is food. Food stamps can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, grains, and dairy products. You can also buy non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee and tea, as well as food items for household pets. And don’t forget about snacks – chips, crackers, and other go-to munchies are all eligible purchases with your SNAP benefits.

Additionally, food stamps can also be used to buy seeds and plants for growing your own produce. This allows for greater self-sufficiency and sustainability. So if you have a green thumb or are interested in starting a backyard garden, take advantage of this opportunity to use your SNAP benefits to buy the supplies needed to cultivate your own food.

Eligibility requirements for food stamps in Texas

The Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is designed to provide food assistance to low-income families and individuals living in Texas. To be eligible for SNAP, you must meet certain requirements and provide specific information when you apply.

To qualify for SNAP in Texas, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Residency: You must be a resident of Texas.
  • Income: Your gross monthly income must be at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. For example, a single person with a monthly income of $1,383 or less would be eligible for SNAP.
  • Assets: SNAP does not have a specific asset limit, but certain assets may count towards your eligibility determination, such as savings accounts, stocks, and property.
  • Household size: The size of your household will determine the maximum amount of benefits you can receive. A household is defined as a group of people who live together and share meals, and can include family members and individuals who are not related.
  • Citizenship or immigration status: You must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a legal permanent resident, or an immigrant with a certain immigration status to be eligible for SNAP.
  • Work requirements: Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) between the ages of 18 and 49 must meet work requirements to receive SNAP benefits. This includes either working at least 80 hours per month, participating in an employment and training program, or a combination of both.

Ways to Apply for Food Stamps in Texas

Food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helps low-income families buy food by providing electronic benefits that can be used at authorized grocery stores. In Texas, the program is managed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Here are the ways you can apply for food stamps in Texas:

  • Online: You can apply for food stamps online through YourTexasBenefits.com. This is the fastest and most convenient way to apply. You will need to create an account and provide personal information to determine your eligibility. You can also upload required documentation to support your application.
  • By phone: You can call HHSC to apply for food stamps at 1-877-541-7905. An HHSC representative will guide you through the application process and answer any questions you might have.
  • In person: You can apply for food stamps in person by visiting your local HHSC office. You can search for the nearest office on the HHSC website. Bring your identification, proof of residency, income verification, and other required documents.

Once you have submitted your application, HHSC will review and determine your eligibility. You will receive a notification by mail or email within 30 days. If your application is approved, you will receive a Lone Star Card, which you can use to buy food at authorized stores.

It’s important to note that HHSC provides resources to help you with the application process. They have a customer service hotline where you can ask questions or get assistance with your application. They also have a navigator program that offers one-on-one assistance to help you complete your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is eligible for food stamps in Texas? To be eligible for food stamps in Texas, you must meet certain income and resource limits. Your household gross income must be at or below 165% of the federal poverty level. The resource limit is $2,250 for most households and $3,250 for households that include an elderly or disabled person.
  • How much can I receive in food stamps? The amount of food stamps you can receive depends on your household size, income, and expenses. The average monthly benefit in Texas is about $121 per person.
  • What can I buy with food stamps in Texas? You can use your Lone Star Card to buy most food items, including bread, cereal, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and seeds and plants that produce food. You cannot use your card to buy non-food items, such as tobacco, alcohol, or household supplies.

HHSC Office Locations

If you prefer to apply for food stamps in person, you can find the nearest HHSC office using the table below:

CityAddressPhone Number
Houston2900 West Little York Road, Houston, TX 77091(713) 290-3706
Dallas3033 Al Lipscomb Way, Dallas, TX 75215(214) 426-8100
San Antonio2204 Blanco Road, San Antonio, TX 78212(210) 736-4100
Austin100 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78701(512) 374-7200

Remember to bring all required documents and identification when applying in person.

Maximum income and resource limits for receiving food stamps in Texas

Before applying to receive food stamps in Texas, it is important to understand the income and resource limits that exist. These limits are in place to ensure that those who truly need assistance are able to receive it, while also preventing fraudulent activity.

The maximum income limit for receiving food stamps in Texas is determined by the gross monthly income before taxes are taken out. For a family of one, the maximum gross monthly income is $1,383. For a family of four, the maximum gross monthly income is $2,833. There are different maximum gross monthly income limits for households of different sizes, so it is important to check the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website for specific details.

  • Family of 1: $1,383
  • Family of 2: $1,868
  • Family of 3: $2,353
  • Family of 4: $2,833
  • Additional $480 for each additional household member

In addition to income limits, there are also resource limits in place for receiving food stamps in Texas. The maximum limit for resources, such as bank accounts and vehicles, is $5,000 for most households. However, for households that include a member who is disabled or over the age of 60, the maximum limit for resources is $9,000.

It is important to note that not all resources are counted towards this limit, such as one vehicle and certain types of retirement accounts. For a full list of resources that are and are not counted towards the limit, it is recommended to visit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website.


To receive food stamps in Texas, applicants must meet both income and resource limits. These limits are in place to ensure that assistance goes to those who truly need it, while preventing fraudulent activity. It is recommended to check the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website for specific details on income and resource limits and to see if you are eligible for assistance.

Household SizeMaximum Gross Monthly Income

Resource limits are $5,000 for most households, but $9,000 for households with a member over the age of 60 or with a disability. Some resources, such as certain types of retirement accounts and one vehicle, are not counted towards the limit. For a full list of resources that are and are not counted, visit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website.

Approved food items that can be purchased with Texas food stamps

As a resident of Texas, if you receive food stamps, you may be wondering what foods are approved for purchase. The Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is intended to help low-income families to have access to healthy and nutritious food. Here’s a breakdown of food items approved for purchase under Texas food stamps:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages

It’s important to note that though food stamps can be used for a variety of food items, certain products are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. These include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Hot foods and meals
  • Pet food

Additionally, certain restrictions apply to items like energy drinks, which are considered a supplement and not a food item. If a product is labeled as a dietary supplement, it may not be eligible for purchase through SNAP benefits.

SNAP-Eligible Retailers in Texas

When it comes to purchasing food items through SNAP, it’s important to check that the store you are shopping at is SNAP-eligible. In Texas, there are thousands of retailers that accept SNAP benefits, including large grocery chains, corner stores, and farmers markets.

For a full list of retailers that accept SNAP benefits, you can visit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website. You can also search for stores that accept SNAP benefits through the USDA’s SNAP Retail Locator.

Maximizing Your Texas SNAP Benefits

While SNAP benefits can be a helpful resource for obtaining healthy and nutritious foods, it’s also important to be mindful of how you can stretch your benefits as far as possible. Here are some tips for maximizing your Texas SNAP benefits:

Shop salesKeep an eye on sales at your local grocery store. Timing your purchases with sales can help you save money.
Buy in bulkBuying larger quantities of staple items can often be more cost-effective in the long run.
Use couponsClip coupons or look for digital coupons to save even more on your favorite foods.
Shop at farmers marketsFarmers markets often offer fresh, locally grown produce at lower prices than traditional grocery stores.
Cook at homeDining out can quickly add up. Cooking at home can save you money and allow you to control the ingredients in your meals.

By being strategic with your purchases and taking advantage of cost-saving options, you can make the most of your Texas SNAP benefits.

Prohibited food items that cannot be purchased with Texas food stamps

While Texas food stamps offer a way for low-income residents to buy groceries, there are restrictions on what food items can be purchased with them. In particular, the following categories of products cannot be bought with food stamps:

  • Alcoholic beverages – This includes beer, wine, and liquor of any brand.
  • Tobacco products – All kinds of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, are banned.
  • Prepared foods – Any food that is ready-to-eat or heated up in-store cannot be purchased with food stamps. This means that fast food, deli sandwiches, hot meals, and bakery items are all off-limits.
  • Vitamins and supplements – Nutritional supplements, protein powders, and other similar products are not eligible for purchase.
  • Pet food – While you can use food stamps to buy food for yourself and your family, you cannot use them to buy food for your pets.

What about non-food items?

Food stamps can only be used to purchase food items. This means that anything that is not classified as food cannot be bought with food stamps. This includes items such as hygiene products, household items, and cleaning supplies.

The importance of adhering to food stamp restrictions

The restrictions set by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which oversees food stamp distribution, exist to ensure that low-income Americans have access to healthy and nutritious food options. By adhering to these restrictions, food stamp users can support their own health and wellbeing, as well as the health of their families.


Prohibited itemsEligible items
Alcoholic beveragesMost non-alcoholic beverages, including milk, juice, and coffee
Tobacco productsN/A
Prepared foodsUncooked meats, fruits, vegetables, and other food staples
Vitamins and supplementsN/A
Pet foodHuman food items that are eligible for purchase

While Texas food stamps can provide a crucial means of support for low-income households, it’s important to understand the restrictions placed on their use. By adhering to these rules, you can ensure that your food stamp benefits are used appropriately and effectively.

How to Check the Balance of Texas Food Stamp Benefits

If you are receiving food stamp benefits in Texas, it is crucial to keep track of the balance of your benefits to avoid running out of funds before the next reloading period. Checking your food stamp balance in Texas is easy and can be done in several ways.

  • Option 1: Online. You can check your balance online by visiting the Texas Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) website. You will need to create an account, and once you do, you can log in to your account to view your food stamp balance and transaction history.
  • Option 2: Mobile app. If you prefer to check your food stamp balance on-the-go, you can download the Texas EBT app to your smartphone. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices, and you can use it to check your balance, transaction history, and locate ATMs near you.
  • Option 3: Phone. Another way to check your balance is by calling the Texas EBT customer service hotline at 1-800-777-7328. You will need to provide your EBT card number and other identifying information, such as your social security number, before you can access your balance information.

It is important to note that your food stamp balance may not reflect any recent purchases or transaction fees. The balance displayed only shows the amount of benefits available to you at the time of inquiry.

If you find that your balance is low and needs to be reloaded, keep in mind that it can take up to two business days for the funds to become available on your card after reloading. Plan accordingly to avoid running out of funds before the reloading period.

OnlineConvenient, can access transaction historyRequires internet access, may not be accessible for those without smartphones or computers
Mobile appConvenient, can access transaction history, can locate ATMsRequires smartphone and internet access, may not be accessible for those without smartphones
PhoneAccessible for those without internet or smartphonesMay require long wait times to speak with a customer service representative

Overall, checking the balance of your Texas food stamp benefits is quick and easy to do. By keeping track of your balance, you can ensure that you always have enough funds to purchase the food and groceries you need to feed yourself and your family.

How to report lost or stolen Texas food stamp benefits

If you suspect that your Texas food stamp benefits have been lost or stolen, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know:

  • First, try to locate your benefit card. Check your wallet, purse, or other places where you may have put it. If you still can’t find it, call the Lone Star Help Desk at 1-800-777-7328 to report your card lost or stolen.
  • You will need to provide your name, address, date of birth, and social security number when reporting your lost or stolen card.
  • The Help Desk representative will cancel your old card and issue you a new one. The new card will be mailed to you within 7-10 business days.

If you do not report a lost or stolen card, someone else may use your benefits to buy food. This means that you will not have the benefits you need to buy food for yourself or your family.

If someone has used your lost or stolen benefits, you may be eligible for replacement benefits. You will need to contact the Lone Star Help Desk as soon as possible to report the misuse of your benefits. The Help Desk representative will work with you to determine if you are eligible for replacement benefits.

Remember, it’s important to report lost or stolen benefits as soon as you can. This will help you get a new card quickly and prevent someone else from using your benefits. Keeping your benefit card in a safe place can also help you avoid the hassle of reporting lost or stolen benefits in the first place.

Food stamp fraud and penalties in Texas

Food stamp fraud is a serious issue in Texas, as it can lead to severe financial consequences for both the perpetrator and taxpayers. According to the Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) Commission, food stamp fraud includes behaviors such as selling or trading food stamps for cash or non-food items, lying about household income, and applying for benefits in multiple states. Anyone caught committing food stamp fraud faces significant penalties, including jail time, fines, and the loss of their benefits and eligibility for future benefits.

  • Jail time: Individuals convicted of food stamp fraud in Texas may face up to two years in jail if the fraud was valued at less than $1,500. For fraud valued at $1,500 or more, the sentence may increase to up to 20 years in prison.
  • Fines: Food stamp fraud convictions can result in steep fines ranging from $2,000 to $250,000, depending on the value of the fraud. HHS can also require perpetrators to pay back all improperly received benefits, with interest.
  • Benefit suspension and disqualification: Anyone caught committing food stamp fraud loses their benefits and becomes ineligible for future benefits. The penalty period can range from one year to permanently, depending on the severity of the fraud.

To combat food stamp fraud, Texas has implemented several anti-fraud measures, such as enhanced eligibility screening and investigations, data analytics and cross-checking with other agencies, and fraud prevention education for applicants and retailers. Anyone who suspects food stamp fraud is encouraged to report it to the HHS Office of Inspector General or local law enforcement.


Food stamp fraud is a serious issue in Texas, with severe legal and financial consequences for those caught committing it. With the implementation of anti-fraud measures and public education, Texas aims to prevent food stamp fraud and protect the integrity and sustainability of its food assistance programs.

PenaltyFood Stamp Fraud Valued at Less Than $1,500Food Stamp Fraud Valued at $1,500 or More
Jail TimeUp to 2 yearsUp to 20 years
Fines$2,000 to $10,000$10,000 to $250,000
Benefit Suspension and Disqualification1 year to 5 yearsPermanent ineligibility

Sources: https://hhs.texas.gov/services/financial/fraud-abuse-resources/food-stamp-fraud and https://www.lawserver.com/law/state/texas/tx-codes/texas_penal_code_32-54

How to renew Texas food stamp benefits

Renewing your Texas food stamps benefits is an important process that must be completed to ensure you continue receiving necessary assistance. Here are the steps to renew your benefits:

  • Step 1: Prepare your renewal application. You will receive a notice in the mail informing you of your deadline to renew your benefits. Make sure to submit your renewal application on time with all the required documents, such as proof of income and expenses.
  • Step 2: Submit your renewal application. You can submit your application online, over the phone, via mail, or in-person at a local HHSC Benefits Office. If you need help completing your application or have any questions, contact the HHSC office.
  • Step 3: Attend an interview, if required. Depending on your situation, you may need to attend an interview with a HHSC representative to renew your benefits. The notice you receive in the mail will inform you if an interview is necessary.

It’s important to note that if you do not renew your benefits on time, your benefits will stop on the certification expiration date. Make sure to submit your renewal application at least 30 days before your benefits expire to avoid any disruptions in assistance.

If you have any questions or concerns about renewing your Texas food stamp benefits, contact the HHSC office or visit their website for more information.

Programs and resources available to help recipients maximize their Texas food stamp benefits.

As a Texas food stamp recipient, it’s essential to know the programs and resources available to help you make the most out of your benefits. Below are ten programs and resources that can assist you in maximizing your Texas food stamp benefits:

  • Double Up Food Bucks: This program allows you to double the value of your SNAP benefits when purchasing fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets and grocery stores.
  • School Breakfast and Lunch Programs: If you have children, they may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): TEFAP provides food to low-income households through food banks and other organizations across Texas.
  • The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program: WIC provides supplemental food and nutrition education to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children who meet certain income criteria.
  • The Summer Food Service Program: This program provides free meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months when school is out of session.
  • The Texas Healthy Food Financing Initiative: A program that provides financing to supermarkets and grocery stores in low-income areas to increase access to healthy foods.
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): Provides food to low-income seniors aged 60 and above through food banks and other organizations across Texas.
  • Hunger-relief organizations: Many organizations, such as Feeding Texas and the Central Texas Food Bank, offer free food distribution services to low-income individuals and families.
  • The Lone Star Card: Texas food stamp recipients have access to the Lone Star Card, which can be used like a debit card to purchase food at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T): Provides job training and employment assistance to SNAP recipients to help them improve their job prospects and become self-sufficient.

Learning to Cook Nutritious Meals on a Budget

For many food stamp recipients, making nutritious meals on a tight budget can be challenging. Fortunately, there are resources available to help. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offers free nutrition education programs that teach participants how to cook healthy meals using SNAP-eligible ingredients. Additionally, many food banks and hunger relief organizations offer cooking classes, recipe ideas, and other resources to help individuals cook nutritious meals on a budget.

The Texas Health Bucks Program

The Texas Health Bucks Program is a farmers’ market incentive program that encourages food stamp recipients to purchase healthier foods. For every $1 in SNAP benefits spent on fruits, vegetables, and herbs at participating farmers’ markets, recipients receive an additional $1 in Health Bucks. This gives SNAP recipients extra purchasing power to buy fresh, healthy foods that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

Guide to Shopping with Your Lone Star Card

Shopping with your Lone Star Card can be confusing, especially if you are new to the program. The Texas Health and Human Services Department offers a guide to shopping with your Lone Star Card that includes tips on how to use the card, what foods you can and cannot purchase, and how to check your balance.

Purchases that can be made with the Lone Star Card:Purchases that cannot be made with the Lone Star Card:
Meat and poultryPrepared foods, such as hot deli items, rotisserie chicken, or sandwiches
SeafoodVitamins or supplements
Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurtPaper products, cleaning supplies, or pet food
Bread and cerealsAlcoholic beverages or tobacco products
Snack foods, such as chips, crackers, and cookiesNon-food items, such as soap, shampoo, or laundry detergent

By using these programs and resources, Texas food stamp recipients can stretch their budgets further and make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.

FAQs: What Can You Buy with Food Stamps in Texas?

1. Can I use food stamps to purchase cooked or hot food items?
Generally, no. Food stamps can only be used to buy uncooked, prepackaged food items such as fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, bread, and eggs.

2. Can I use food stamps to buy non-food items like cleaning supplies or toiletries?
No. Food stamps are strictly for buying food items that can be consumed or prepared for consumption.

3. Can I use food stamps to buy junk food like candy or soda?
Yes, food stamps can be used to buy junk food items. However, it is recommended to prioritize buying healthier food options for a balanced diet.

4. Can I use food stamps at restaurants or fast food chains?
In some cases, yes. The Restaurant Meals Program allows elderly, disabled, or homeless individuals to purchase prepared meals with food stamps at approved locations.

5. Can I use food stamps to buy seeds or plants for a garden?
Yes, food stamps can be used to buy seeds or plants for a personal garden that can produce food for consumption.

6. Can I use food stamps to buy pet food?
No. Food stamps cannot be used to purchase pet food items.

7. Can I buy a birthday cake with my food stamps?
Yes, food stamps can be used to buy birthday cakes as long as the cake is not decorated with non-food items such as toys or balloons.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has helped answer any questions you may have had about what can be purchased with food stamps in Texas. Remember, this program exists to help provide access to nutritious and healthy foods for eligible individuals and families. Please feel free to come back and visit for more information and updates.