Rules About Food Stamps and Coupons
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Rules About Food Stamps and Coupons

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 at 8:12 am
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Federal Food assistance programs, such as WIC or SNAP, and state food assistance programs, such as CalFresh, are designed to help low-income people to provide food and good nutrition for themselves and their families.  Many of these programs were once called Food Stamps.  There is some confusion about how food assistance programs work with coupons.  Here is some information that should help clear things up.

The first thing to realize is that food assistance programs no longer use actual food stamps.  Some of them may send people their benefits in the form of special coupons.  Most of these programs have updated they way that people receive their benefits to something much more convenient.  If you become eligible for a food assistance program today, it is very likely that your benefits will be distributed via an electronic debit card.

There has been some confusion about if people who are using what was once called Food Stamps are allowed to use grocery coupons.  The short answer is yes, (but there are some limitations).  A lot of people will find that when they first become eligible for a food assistance program, they are encouraged to use as many coupons as possible, in order to help them to save money.

The SNAP program is the new name for the federal Food Stamps program.  The WIC program is another federal food assistance program.  Each state will have their own programs, that may go by different names.  The exact type of foods that you can use your food assistance benefits on may vary by state.  For the federal programs, there are specific guidelines.

You can use SNAP benefits to buy breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products.  You can also use your benefits to purchase soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers and ice cream.  Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also permitted.  Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label are also okay.  Pumpkins are allowed.  It is perfectly acceptable to use coupons for those types of groceries along with your food assistance program benefits.

People who use food stamps or food assistance benefits are not supposed to be charged tax for grocery purchases.  However, it seems that several stores are charging people tax on the items that they used a coupon on.  This is due to a quirk with the registers.  They will automatically charge tax on couponed items. The stores then require the shopper to pay the tax in cash.  Check with a store manager before you shop, to see if that store charges tax on coupons used with food stamps.  Not all of them will.



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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.