Can You Buy Soda With Food Stamps? [Get The Facts]

Food stamps aren’t only designed to buy vegetables and bread. You can buy plenty of luxury items with your food benefits, including ice cream, chips, and non-alcoholic beverages. 

What about soda and energy drinks? Some may argue that since soda has absolutely no nutritional value, it shouldn’t be something you can buy with EBT

So, can you buy soda with food stamps? What can’t you buy with EBT? Let’s find out. 

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Table of Contents:

Can You Buy Soda With Food Stamps? 

Yes, you can buy soda with food stamps. However, not every kind of soda and energy drink is suitable. 

While most mainstream types of soda are suitable to buy with food stamps, you can’t buy soft drinks that fall under the category of supplements. 

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To tell whether a drink is classed as a supplement, check the back label. If the drink has a “nutritional facts” label, it’s fine to buy with food stamps. However, if your drink has a “supplements facts” label, it’s classed as a supplement and isn’t suitable to buy with food stamps.

What Can You Buy With EBT?

EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a way of receiving electronic benefits, such as food stamps. To use your EBT balance, you’ll be given a plastic card to use at stores and online. 

EBT is designed to pay for a household’s food. Here’s what you can buy with EBT:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products 
  • Bread, cereals, and grains
  • Nuts and beans
  • Snack foods (including ice cream, chips, soda, etc)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages

It’s up to you how you spend your EBT balance. However, it’s best to use your benefits to buy nutritious foods

You can’t overspend your EBT balance – once you run out of money in your account, you can’t buy anything else. However, any unused money will roll on to the next month, and you’ll have a little extra to spend. 

What Can’t You Buy With EBT?

EBT is only designed to buy food groceries. All non-food groceries, or food designed to be eaten immediately, are not approved to buy with EBT, even essential non-food groceries. 

Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:

  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Vitamins, supplements, and medicines (this includes energy drinks which are classed as supplements)
  • Tobacco products
  • Gambling/lottery tickets
  • Personal items, such as grooming products, clothes, cosmetics, etc
  • Hygiene products
  • Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning products, etc)
  • Hot, preprepared food and drinks (rotisserie chickens, hot coffee, etc)
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As you can see, some non-food essential groceries are not covered by EBT benefits. The best way to get around this is to use your own money to buy non-food groceries, and your food stamps money to buy food and luxury food items. 

The Bottom Line

It’s up to you how you spend your food stamps money. As part of a balanced diet, soda is fine, but be aware that there’s little to no nutritional value in soft drinks

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