What Can You Purchase With an EBT Card?

According to the USDA website, people use the EBT card to purchase food such as meat, breads, cereals, milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables as well as seeds and plants for growing food. Some items, such as birthday cakes and gift baskets, have slightly different requirements.

Generally, EBT cards are to be used at a grocery store for food items which are taken home, prepared and then eaten. Thus, they are typically not to be used to purchase meals at restaurants or for buying hot foods which are eaten at the store. There are some exceptions to this. For example, the USDA website indicates that, in some communities, restaurants are allowed to accept EBT cards in exchange for low-cost meals.

Because the definition of food is so broad, there are specific requirements for holiday foods, decorated cakes, and gift baskets that typically contain a mix of food and non-food items. The general rule is that the food portion of the item must be more than 50 percent of its value. If in doubt about something specific, check with store personnel. They know the requirements as to what is or is not eligible to be purchased with EBT cards.

There are several categories of things which are ineligible to be purchased with EBT cards. These categories include alcohol, tobacco, and cigarettes, as well as pet food, cleaning supplies and vitamins.