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Is Soda Ebt Eligible? Can You Buy Soda With Food Stamps?

Sugary sodas can quench thirst but provide little nutritional value.

For EBT recipients looking to make the most of benefits, knowing what can and can’t be purchased is key. 

If you’re pressed for time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, soda and other sweetened beverages are eligible EBT purchases in most states. However, restrictions apply in select locations.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying soda with EBT or food stamps.

EBT Eligible Foods Overview

SNAP Eligibility Basics

SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal assistance program designed to help low-income individuals and families afford nutritious food.

To be eligible for SNAP benefits, individuals must meet certain income and resource requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

SNAP benefits, also known as EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) benefits, are provided in the form of a debit card that can be used to purchase eligible food items.

What Can Be Purchased with SNAP Benefits?

SNAP benefits can be used to purchase a wide variety of food items, including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, bread, cereals, and more.

The USDA has created a comprehensive list of eligible food items that can be purchased with SNAP benefits. This list is regularly updated to reflect changes in dietary guidelines and food availability.

It’s important to note that SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items such as alcohol, tobacco, pet food, or household supplies.

Additionally, hot food and prepared food items for immediate consumption are generally not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits, although there are exceptions for certain homeless individuals.

vegetables stall

Junk Food, Soda, and Candy Eligibility

One common question that arises is whether soda is eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. The answer is both yes and no.

While soda is generally considered a non-nutritious, “junk” food, it is not explicitly prohibited from being purchased with SNAP benefits. However, individual states have the ability to place restrictions on the purchase of certain items using SNAP benefits.

Some states have chosen to implement restrictions on the purchase of soda, candy, and other sugary snacks with SNAP benefits, while others have not.

It’s worth noting that the debate surrounding the eligibility of soda and other unhealthy foods for purchase with SNAP benefits is complex.

Proponents of restrictions argue that SNAP benefits should be used to promote healthier food choices and discourage the consumption of sugary beverages and snacks, which are linked to obesity and other health problems.

On the other hand, opponents argue that restricting the purchase of certain foods infringes upon personal choice and autonomy.

If you’re unsure about the specific restrictions in your state, it’s best to check with your local SNAP office or visit the official USDA website for more information.

It’s also worth noting that the eligibility of certain food items for purchase with SNAP benefits may change over time as policies and guidelines are updated.

Are Sodas Eligible for Purchase with EBT?

Many people wonder whether they can use their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards to purchase sodas. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think.

While there are no federal restrictions on buying soda with EBT, there are state and local regulations that could affect your ability to do so.

No Federal Restrictions on Soda for EBT

At the federal level, there are no specific restrictions on using EBT to buy sodas.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the program responsible for providing food assistance to low-income individuals and families, does not have any guidelines that prohibit the purchase of sodas.

SNAP benefits are intended to help individuals and families afford nutritious foods, but they also recognize that personal food choices vary.

As a result, recipients of SNAP benefits can use their EBT cards to purchase a wide range of food items, including sodas.

Soda for EBT

State and Local Regulations

While there are no federal restrictions, it’s important to note that individual states and localities have the authority to impose their own regulations on the use of EBT cards.

Some states have chosen to restrict the purchase of soda and other sugary beverages with EBT, while others allow it.

For example, in California, EBT cards can be used to buy sodas, but there is a proposal to ban the purchase of sugary drinks with EBT funds. On the other hand, in states like New York and Texas, there are no restrictions on using EBT to purchase soda.

EBT Purchase Requirements for Soda

Even in states where the purchase of soda with EBT is allowed, it’s important to understand that EBT benefits can only be used to buy food items that are intended for human consumption.

This means that non-food items such as cleaning products, pet food, and alcoholic beverages are not eligible for purchase with EBT.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that EBT benefits cannot be used to buy hot foods or prepared foods, like those found in the deli section of a grocery store.

However, cold-prepared foods, such as pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, are generally eligible for purchase with EBT.

It’s always a good idea to check with your local EBT agency or refer to their website for the most up-to-date information regarding what can and cannot be purchased with EBT in your area.

Arguments For and Against Allowing Soda EBT Purchases

Opponent Arguments Against Soda EBT

Opponents of allowing soda purchases with EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards argue that it goes against the original intent of the program, which is to provide assistance for purchasing nutritious food items.

Soda is often high in sugar and empty calories, and its consumption has been linked to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Allowing the use of EBT funds for soda purchases can undermine efforts to promote healthier eating habits among low-income individuals and families.

Furthermore, opponents argue that using taxpayer money to purchase soda is a misuse of public funds. Soda is considered a luxury item rather than a necessity, and therefore, it should not be eligible for EBT purchases.

They believe that the limited funds available through the program should be directed towards more essential items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious food options.

Opponents also highlight the potential for abuse and misuse of EBT funds if soda purchases are allowed. They argue that some individuals may prioritize purchasing soda over more nutritious options, leading to negative health outcomes.

Additionally, there are concerns that allowing soda purchases with EBT cards may contribute to the overconsumption of sugary beverages, which can have detrimental effects on both individual health and public health as a whole.

Proponent Arguments for Soda EBT Allowance

Proponents of allowing soda purchases with EBT cards argue for the importance of personal choice and autonomy in food selection.

They believe that individuals and families receiving government assistance should have the freedom to make their own decisions about what they purchase, including soda.

Restricting the use of EBT funds specifically for soda purchases can be seen as paternalistic and infringing upon personal liberties.

Another argument put forth by proponents is that limiting the use of EBT funds to exclude soda purchases may not have a significant impact on overall health outcomes.

They argue that soda is just one part of a larger dietary picture, and targeting it alone may not address the underlying issues contributing to poor nutrition and health disparities.

Instead, proponents suggest focusing on providing education and resources to promote healthier eating habits and overall wellness.

It is important to note that the current regulations regarding EBT eligibility for soda purchases vary by state.

Some states have implemented restrictions on the purchase of sugary beverages with EBT funds, while others allow for more freedom in food choices.

Ultimately, the debate surrounding soda EBT eligibility is complex and involves considerations of public health, personal choice, and the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.

Soda EBT Allowance

Making the Most of Your EBT Soda Allowance

When it comes to using your EBT benefits to purchase soda, it’s important to make the most out of your allowance.

By being strategic with your shopping, you can stretch your EBT dollars further and still enjoy your favorite fizzy beverages.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your EBT soda allowance:

Finding Deals and Sales

One way to make your EBT soda allowance go further is by keeping an eye out for deals and sales.

Many grocery stores offer discounts on soda from time to time, so it’s worth checking the weekly ads or subscribing to the store’s newsletter. By taking advantage of these promotions, you can stock up on your favorite sodas without breaking the bank.

Additionally, some stores may offer special discounts or rewards programs for EBT recipients.

These programs can help you save even more on your soda purchases. Don’t hesitate to ask store employees if they have any discounts available for EBT customers.

Consider Lower-Cost Store Brands

If you’re looking to save money on your soda purchases, consider opting for lower-cost store brands. Many grocery stores offer their own brands of soda, which are often cheaper than popular name brands.

While the taste may vary slightly, you might be surprised at how similar the store-brand sodas can be to their more expensive counterparts.

By choosing store brands, you can enjoy your favorite soda flavors while keeping more money in your pocket.

Purchase Limits and Budgeting

It’s important to remember that there may be purchase limits on certain items when using your EBT benefits. This includes soda. Be sure to check the guidelines provided by your state’s EBT program to understand any restrictions or limitations on purchasing soda with your benefits.

Budgeting is also crucial when it comes to making the most of your EBT soda allowance.

By planning your purchases and keeping track of your spending, you can ensure that you stay within your budget and don’t overspend on soda. Consider creating a shopping list and comparing prices at different stores to find the best deals.

Consider using a portion of your EBT allowance to purchase healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Remember, the purpose of EBT benefits is to help individuals and families meet their basic nutritional needs. While soda can be an enjoyable treat, it’s important to prioritize nutritious food choices.

Healthy Soda Alternatives Covered by SNAP

While soda is eligible for purchase with food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), there are also several healthy alternatives that you can buy with your benefits.

These alternatives provide a refreshing and flavorful option for those looking to quench their thirst without sacrificing their health.

Fruit Juices 100% Juice

One of the best alternatives to soda is 100% fruit juice.

These juices are made from real fruit and contain no added sugars or preservatives. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals, providing a natural and healthy option for satisfying your thirst.

Popular choices include apple juice, orange juice, and grape juice. You can find a wide variety of options in your local grocery store.

Fruit Juices

Flavored Waters

Another great alternative to soda is flavored water.

These waters are infused with natural flavors, providing a hint of taste without the added sugars and calories found in soda. Flavored waters come in a variety of flavors, such as lemon, berry, and cucumber.

They are a refreshing and hydrating option that can be enjoyed guilt-free.

Low-fat and Skim Milk

If you are looking for a creamy and satisfying beverage, low-fat and skim milk are excellent choices.

These dairy products are rich in calcium and protein, making them a healthy alternative to soda. They can be enjoyed on their own or used as a base for smoothies and shakes.

Add some fresh fruit for a delicious and nutritious drink.

Remember, by choosing these alternatives, you can enjoy a refreshing beverage while still maintaining a nutritious diet.

So, next time you’re shopping with your SNAP benefits, consider trying one of these healthy options instead of reaching for the soda aisle.


In summary – soda is EBT-eligible in most states, but restrictions apply in some areas, so check your local regulations. And prioritize healthy drink options when possible.

When used judiciously, purchasing soda through SNAP benefits can provide an affordable treat. But overconsumption can impact nutrition.

Finding the right balance while making the most of your EBT allowance is key. We hope this guide provided more clarity around purchasing soda with EBT.

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