If you have limited income, you know how hard it is to pay for healthy groceries. To help people obtain healthy foods, the US government, through the department of agriculture, came up with something called SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), commonly known as the stamp.
The stamp has limitations on what you can buy. For instance, you can’t use it to buy prepared or ready food. You can’t also use it to buy paper products like napkins and toilet paper. So, what exactly can you use it to buy? Can you buy pumpkins with the stamps? Tune in as we cover everything you need to know about what you can or cannot buy with the stamp.
Can You Buy Pumpkins With Food Stamps?
Yes, you can buy pumpkins with food stamps as long as the store is qualified and categorizes pumpkins as food, not decoration. Food stamps are intended for food items. And since pumpkins are classified as food or vegetable, they are eligible to be bought with stamps. Many stores categorize pumpkins as grocery items that can be found in the grocery store.
However, there’s an exception to this. During Halloween, pumpkins are mainly used for decoration. For this reason, many stores categorize and sell pumpkins as decoration items rather than food during this season. In such a case, you may want to be more careful about which part of the store you got the pumpkin from.
If you obtain the pumpkin from the holiday section or home goods, it might not be categorized as food. Thus, you will not be able to use your food stamp to buy the pumpkin. The same applies to plastic pumpkins.
But if you get the pumpkin from the grocery or food section, you can buy it using food stamps. You can also buy canned pumpkins with stamps since it qualifies as food. Pumpkin seeds and other types of gourds like squash too qualify as food. And can, therefore, be bought using stamps irrespective of the state you are in.
Other Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps
As the name suggests, food stamps are intended for foods. So, you can buy various types of food with them.
You can buy healthy food items like groceries, meat, drinks, dry foods, grains, and other produce. You can also buy unhealthy groceries like snacks and desserts. Spices, herbs, and condiments too qualify for food stamps. As for seeds, they are also eligible so long as they produce vegetables, herbs, or fruits.
There are no limitations on the amount of a particular item you can buy. So, if you want to spend your entire balance on ice cream and chips, that’s on you. It’s also OK to buy luxurious items like lobster or steak with food stamps benefits. But, remember to balance your budget well and save the overspending for special occasions.
What Can You Not Buy With Food Stamps?
Knowing the limitations of your food stamps is crucial. Otherwise, you risk having consequences like fines or cancellation of stamp benefits. One thing to remember is that if one person in a home can’t get benefits, the ability of other members to benefit is reduced. The stamps are only used for groceries for people, not companies.
Among the things, you cannot buy with food stamps is tobacco or alcohol. You can also not use the stamps to purchase paper products or cleaning supplies. Other products that don’t contribute to cooking, whether paper plates, silverware, or cooking racks, don’t qualify too.
You can also not use food stamps to buy pet food, hot or prepared food designed to be eaten right away, like pizza from a food court. However, some states have an exception to the hot or prepared food rule.
Restaurant Meal Program
There’s a program called restaurant meal program provided in some states. This program offers specific-mobility-challenged recipients the opportunity to use the food stamps to order meals at certain restaurants as they might not be able to cook for themselves. The restaurant meal program is available in:
- New York
- Rhode Island
So, if you live in any of these states and are challenged mobile-wise, you can benefit from the restaurant meal program. However, not everyone with mobility challenges qualifies, and not all restaurants have this option.
Note that there’s a certain age eligible recipients need to reach to qualify. So, you have to establish if you qualify for the RMP and determine which restaurants have this program.
McDonald’s and Subway are good examples that accept the RMP program. When using the restaurant meal program, remember that restaurants don’t always provide the cheapest or healthiest meal options. So, be careful what you choose to eat and how you use your benefits.
How Does The Food Stamp Work?
To get stamp benefits, you first have to sign up for SNAP. Qualifying for SNAP doesn’t mean you will automatically benefit from the program.
To sign up, you can fill out a paper form at your local benefits office, make the application via phone call with an associate, or fill out the application online. A phone call with an associate and visiting the local benefits office are the best options for those with questions or trouble with technology, but an online application is the easiest.
Once applied, you’ll need to present documents to prove your income. Failure to which can prolong you’re getting the benefits. If you qualify, you begin getting the benefits in about 30 days. The funds are renewable monthly, and leftovers are rolled over to the next month for up to 12 months. After 12 months, the card expires.
Note that the amount of money to qualify for is different among states. States with high average income have higher limits and vice versa.
So, can you buy pumpkins with food stamps? Yes, you can buy pumpkins with food stamps so long as the store categorizes the pumpkin as food or vegetables, not decoration. The same applies to canned pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.
However, if the store categorizes pumpkins as home or decoration items, you cannot use food stamps to purchase such. The same is valid for plastic pumpkins.