Pennsylvania's food stamp program is for families that need help buying food to avoid hunger and malnourishment. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services , once a family qualifies for the program, based on factors such as financial resources and income, it can use the benefits to buy food products from grocery stores. In an effort to ensure the benefits go to helping recipients eat well and stay healthy, the state restricts the purchases a family can make with food stamps.

    Food Stamp Program Basics

    The food stamp program, known at the federal level and in Pennsylvania as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides recipients with a monthly allowance to use for food purchases. The state gives benefit recipients an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card, similar to a bankcard, which they swipe at the point of sale to make their purchases.

    The state assigns a family's benefits electronically, with each set of purchases coming out of the family's monthly amount. According to federal guidelines, participating stores may not permit the use of an EBT card for off-limits purchases.

    Eligible Food Stamp Benefit Uses

    Pennsylvania families may use food stamp benefits to buy most food products from supermarkets and similar stores. They also may buy seeds and plants to grow into food for the household, reveals the Pennsylvania Merchants Association .

    Certain food stamp recipients may use the benefits to pay for food that requires special service. For example, a disabled recipient may use the benefits to buy meals prepared by an authorized meal delivery service. Elderly recipients in group-living, drug addicts and alcoholics in a rehabilitation center, battered women and their children in a shelter and homeless recipients also may use benefits to buy prepared meals from their institution or a participating business.

    Ineligible Food Stamp Benefit Uses

    Most recipients in Pennsylvania may not use food stamp benefits to buy hot foods prepared for immediate consumption. Also off limits are alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, pet food, paper products, household supplies, toiletries and medicines.

    If recipients previously purchased food on credit, they may not use food stamp benefits to pay their bill. Nor can they use benefits to make advance payment for food they will receive later, except for purchases from a non-profit food cooperative.

    Clarifications on Eligibility

    Junk food and luxury foods are eligible for purchase with food stamps in Pennsylvania and other states. Energy drinks such as Gatorade are eligible because they have a nutrition facts label. Other energy drinks, such as Red Bull, that have a supplement facts label are ineligible because the Food and Drug Administration classifies them as dietary supplements.

    Gift baskets are ineligible purchases unless the value of the food items in the basket is at least ​50 percent​ of the price. On the other hand, birthday cakes are eligible unless non-edible decorations constitute more than ​50 percent​ of the value.

    What does snap cover in PA?
    What can I buy with EBT? You can use food stamps to buy groceries, snacks, and seeds or plants that will produce food. You can't use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, live animals, prepared foods, or any non-food household items. more
    Does SNAP cover essential oils?
    soaps, candles and household supplies; essential oils and supplements; food that will be eaten on-site. more
    What does SNAP cover in TN?
    Most typical foods found in your grocery store are eligible. The list includes meats, such as ground beef, pork chops and sirloin steaks, poultry, like chicken breasts and whole turkeys and fish. You'll also be able to buy fruits, vegetables, breads, grains, cereals, milk, eggs and yogurt. more
    What does SNAP cover in Ohio?
    It includes a variety of foods, such as cheese; nonfat dry and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk, juice, oats and ready-to-eat cereal, rice and pasta, peanut butter, dry beans or peas, canned fruits and vegetables, and canned meat, poultry or fish. more
    Does snap cover apple cider vinegar?
    You can buy baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice all with your food stamps. Other things that you may be able to use for green cleaning supplies (or even homemade beauty products) that can be bought with food stamps include apple cider vinegar, olive oil and coconut oil. more
    What does pa food stamps not cover?
    Alcoholic beverages, pet foods, hot foods prepared for immediate consumption (such as barbequed chicken), lunch counter items or foods to be eaten in the store. Non-food items such as paper products, soap, household supplies, medicines, vitamins, and cigarettes. more
    What does SNAP cover in Illinois?
    What services are offered? SNAP benefits can be used to buy: any food or food product for human consumption, seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food. more
    What does SNAP cover in NY?
    Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy: Foods for the household to eat, such as, but not limited to: Breads and cereals. Fruits and vegetables. Meats, fish and poultry. more
    What does SNAP cover in Texas?
    If you get SNAP food benefits: You can buy food, seeds and plants to grow food. You can't use SNAP to buy alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, hot food or any food sold to eat in the store. more
    What does the PA Access Card cover?
    The PA EBT ACCESS card is an industry-standard plastic card with a magnetic strip. It provides recipients access to Cash Assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance benefits. Recipients access their SNAP benefits electronically through point-of-sale (POS) terminals in authorized food stores. more
    Does insurance cover abortion in PA?
    Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided. Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. more


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