The SNAP benefits program allows people in the US to purchase food and other select goods using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. These cards are accepted at many major stores, but it can be frustrating to go shopping and then find out that the store doesn’t take EBT.
For this reason, it is important to understand the EBT acceptance policies for a particular store before you go out to shop.
Does Trader Joe’s Take EBT?
Trader Joe’s accepts EBT for qualifying goods at all of their locations. Qualifying items include essential foods such as produce, meat, dairy, fish, as well as other things such as snack foods. Hot food items are typically not available for purchase with EBT.
The idea behind SNAP and EBT is that they allow low-income families to feed themselves with essential goods. You can check the labels on most goods to see if it has nutritional information. Most qualifying goods will have some sort of nutrition label, so this is a good way to estimate what you can and cannot buy.
Keep reading to find details on what you can and can’t buy at Trader Joe’s using EBT, as well as how to apply for SNAP benefits and other pertinent information.
What Can You Buy at Trader Joe’s With EBT?
Since SNAP benefits are intended to help low-income families feed themselves, most items you can buy at Trader Joe’s with EBT are essential food items. Trader Joe’s also has a wide range of hot foods available, but these are generally not included as qualifying items for EBT purchase.
Foods you can buy at Trader Joe’s with EBT include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Cereals (such as rice and corn)
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and food-bearing plants
As you can see, the list includes just about anything you could possibly need to give your family proper nutrition. It is important to note that an adult human needs around 2000 calories per day, with about 50% of that coming from carbs while the remaining 50% is split between fat and protein. Children under 10 only need about 1200-1400 calories per day.
If you make a meal plan that follows these recommendations, it should be easy to use EBT to feed your family with a nutritionally balanced diet. For more information on dietary recommendations, you can visit this page. It’s important to note that certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, will cause different nutritional needs for the individual suffering from them.
What You Cannot Buy at Trader Joe’s With EBT?
There are some limitations on what you can purchase with your EBT card. Some of these rules may be surprising, so it’s important to understand them before going shopping in order to avoid frustration.
Things you cannot buy at Trader Joe’s with EBT include:
- Vitamin supplements
- Household goods (such as utensils or dishes)
- Pre-cooked foods
- Hot foods
- Feminine products
These exclusions can be frustrating, since some of these things, such as medicine and feminine products, are basically essential goods. However, since there are specific benefit programs for covering things like medical expenses and feminine products, it makes sense that they would be excluded from the SNAP benefits program.
How To Apply For SNAP Benefits and EBT
Applying for SNAP benefits and EBT is a fairly straightforward process. Just make sure you have all the necessary documentation and meet all the eligibility requirements before you apply. In general, SNAP benefits are intended to help low-income families feed themselves, so the limitations imposed on them are generally centered around this fact.
For example, having an income above a certain amount for the household will disqualify you from receiving SNAP benefits. You are also limited in the specific goods you can and cannot purchase with an EBT card.
You can apply for SNAP benefits and EBT by following these steps:
- Gather any necessary documents you may need for your application
- Visit the mybenefits website and register an account
- Answer all of the relevant questions to determine eligibility
- Submit your application
You will be contacted by email or phone to let you know whether or not you qualify, and what the next steps to take are. If you need more information on the application process, you can visit this page.
How To Check Out at Trader Joe’s With Your EBT Card
Since Trader Joe’s accepts EBT payments at all of their in-store locations, it is fairly straightforward to make purchases using your EBT card. The only catch is that you need to be purchasing eligible items if you expect to check out with your EBT card.
You can use your EBT card at any Trader Joe’s location just like you would a debit or credit card to purchase goods. You will be notified of your updated EBT balance after you check out. You will have to use your PIN to authorize the payment.
If you are buying ineligible items as well as eligible items, you will need to use a debit card, credit card, cash, or cheque to pay for the ineligible items. The cashier should be able to separate the purchase for you to facilitate this kind of purchase.
If you are curious about a particular location’s policies on EBT checkout processes, you can always call and ask away with whatever questions you may have.
SNAP benefits are a great way for low-income families to make sure they are meeting all of their nutritional needs. However, there are a number of specific requirements and caveats that control what you can and cannot buy with SNAP benefits, so it’s important to understand these limitations before attempting to shop.
If you are curious about a particular in-store location and their policies regarding EBT purchases, it’s always a good idea to call and ask an employee about the details. They will usually be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask away in the comments section.