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Can You Buy Beer With EBT?

Written by: Robert Taylor
Last updated: June 17, 2024

It's emphasized that EBT cards, specifically under SNAP, do not permit the purchase of alcoholic beverages, including beer, adhering to the program's focus on essential nutrition.


A significant aspect is SNAP's goal to promote public health by offering nutritional assistance to those in need, concentrating on healthy and essential food items.[1]


The restrictions on items like alcohol are in place to ensure the responsible use of government funds and to address public health concerns.[2]


Ineligible Items with EBT: The article points out that, apart from alcohol, EBT does not allow purchasing non-food items, certain health-related products, and hot, ready-to-eat foods.

The use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase groceries has become a common practice for those receiving government assistance. However, there are restrictions on what can and cannot be purchased with EBT cards. One common question that arises is “Can you buy beer with EBT?”

While the use of EBT cards is primarily intended for the purchase of nutritious food, there are exceptions and varying regulations in different states. In this article, we will explore the details and shed light on whether or not it is possible to buy beer with an EBT card.

The Simple Answer

To directly address the question, "Can You Buy Beer With EBT?" the answer is unequivocally no. SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco. These items are explicitly excluded from what is deemed eligible for purchase with EBT. This restriction is part of the government's effort to ensure that these funds are used strictly for essential nutrition needs.

The Reason Behind the Restriction

Fast Facts

EBT plays a vital role in enhancing health and welfare by providing access to nutritious food while excluding non-essential items, effectively combating food insecurity.

The restriction on purchasing beer and other alcoholic beverages using EBT cards stems from the fundamental objectives of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is designed to provide nutritional assistance to low-income individuals and families, ensuring that they have access to essential food items that are crucial for a healthy and balanced diet. The program is not just about providing financial support; it's about promoting public health and well-being.

  • Promoting Nutritional Health: The primary focus of SNAP is to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Alcoholic beverages like beer do not fit into the category of nutritious food. By restricting the purchase of alcohol, SNAP ensures that its benefits are directed towards foods that provide nutritional value, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, and whole grains.
  • Responsible Use of Government Funds: SNAP benefits are funded by taxpayers’ money, and there is a responsibility to ensure that these funds are used appropriately. Allowing the purchase of beer or other non-essential items could lead to misuse of these funds, which are meant to assist those in need in maintaining a healthy diet.[2]
  • Addressing Public Health Concerns: There is also a public health aspect to consider. The consumption of alcohol can lead to various health problems and addictions. By prohibiting the purchase of alcoholic beverages with EBT, the program aims to discourage unhealthy habits among its beneficiaries, especially considering that many recipients include vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.
  • Legislative Decisions and Public Opinion: The decision to exclude alcoholic beverages from EBT-eligible purchases is also influenced by legislative actions and public opinion. There is a general consensus that government-assisted programs should not facilitate the purchase of items that do not contribute to the basic well-being and health of individuals.

What Can You Buy With EBT?

Fast Facts

EBT covers various nutritious foods, including fresh produce, meats, and dairy, essential for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

Understanding what EBT covers is key for beneficiaries to make the most out of their assistance. EBT primarily caters to purchasing essential food items that are part of a balanced and healthy diet.[1]

This includes:

  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: These are crucial for a healthy diet, providing the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Meat and Poultry: These items offer vital protein sources, essential for muscle building and repair.
  • Dairy Products: Items like milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium and protein.
  • Bread and Cereals: These staples are important sources of carbohydrates, which are a key source of energy.
  • Seeds and Plants: Interestingly, EBT covers seeds and plants that can produce food, encouraging self-sufficiency in growing fresh produce.

What Else is Excluded?

While EBT covers a wide range of food products, understanding its limitations is crucial. Besides the exclusion of alcoholic beverages like beer, other non-eligible items include:

  • Pet Foods: Since these are not human food, they are not covered.
  • Cleaning Supplies and Hygiene Products: Items like soap, detergents, and personal hygiene products, although necessary, are not eligible.
  • Vitamins and Medicines: Even if sold over the counter, these are considered outside the scope of SNAP's food assistance.
  • Prepared Foods: This refers to foods that are hot at the point of sale or ready to eat immediately. The program focuses on groceries that beneficiaries can use to prepare meals at home.
  • Non-Food Household Items: Items such as paper products, toiletries, and household supplies are not eligible for purchase with EBT.

The exclusions are based on the rationale that while these items are important, they do not directly contribute to the nutritional needs of individuals and families. SNAP benefits are therefore tailored to ensure that they primarily address food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies among the low-income population.

Final Thoughts: Understanding EBT's Role in Nutritional Assistance

In conclusion, when it comes to the question, "Can You Buy Beer With EBT?" it is clear that the EBT program, aligned with SNAP's guidelines, does not allow the purchase of beer or any other alcoholic beverages. This restriction upholds the program's mission to facilitate access to nutritious food for those who need it most. While EBT covers a wide range of food products to ensure a balanced diet for beneficiaries, it remains a tool focused on promoting health and well-being, excluding items that do not contribute to this goal.

Curious about whether 7-Eleven accepts EBT for your convenience store needs? Read our article to discover the answer and learn how to make the most of your EBT benefits at 7-Eleven locations.

Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor is a talented writer known for his ability to communicate complex social care and government benefit topics with clarity and empathy. With a background in sociology and a passion for advocating for marginalized populations, Robert has authored numerous articles, reports, and books on these critical subjects. His writing has helped individuals better understand their rights and options within the realm of government assistance, empowering them to navigate the system effectively. Robert's compelling storytelling and dedication to social justice have made him an influential voice in the field of social care and government benefits.

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