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What can I buy with SNAP benefits and where can I shop?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

You can use your SNAP to buy food at all stores that accept EBT including large and small grocery stories, convenience stores. See What is the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) at farmers markets? about the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) at farmers markets, CSAs and other locations. You do not need to have a stove or other cooking facilities to get SNAP benefits. You can also buy seeds and vegetable or fruit plants to grow your own food. 

You cannot buy the following items with SNAP:

  • Hot prepared foods to be eaten on the store premises or immediately (such as rotisserie chickens) or restaurant food
  • Non-food items such as pet food, vitamins, etc.
  • Paper goods, cleaning supplies etc.

See 106 C.M.R. § 360.100.

Prepared meals:

You are allowed to give some of your SNAP benefit for a prepared meals at certain locations including domestic violence and homeless shelters, congregate meal sites for elders or home-delivered meals for seniors. However, the agencies can only accept voluntary donations and should not accept more than $2/meal. It also depends on whether the agency serving the meals is an approved EBT vendor.  106 C.M.R. § 360.120.

What happens if a grocer or other EBT retailer charges me too much?

Sometimes the store will make a mistake by taking money out of your EBT account even though you did not get your groceries. If this happens, the store must file a “merchant mis-dispense claim” with DTA. It may take several days or weeks for you to get your SNAP benefits credited back to your account. 

You may be able to get your benefits back sooner if you can get the store to contact DTA directly to verify the mistake. Call the EBT Customer Service line for immediate help: 800-997-2555.

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