The SNAP program for food assistance gave out $55.6 billion of benefits in 2019! That’s a lot of benefits! With so many benefits going around, some questions arise: What exactly can you buy with your EBT card? Can you buy protein powder?
Most protein powders can be purchased with food stamps (EBT), but it depends on the brand. Protein powders that are sold as food and labeled with “Nutrition Facts” are EBT eligible. Protein powders that are sold as supplements and labeled with “Supplement Facts” are not EBT eligible.
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Below, I’ll share lists of which protein powder brands can be bought with EBT. I’ll also explain whether you can buy creatine or meal replacement shakes with EBT. And I’ll explain which stores allow you to buy protein powder with your EBT card.
What Protein Powder Can I Buy With Food Stamps?
Remember that the purpose of SNAP benefits (EBT card / food stamps) is to assist people in buying food. So, that’s where the line is usually drawn: Does the product technically count as food?
Protein powder is a funny example because it actually counts as both a food and a supplement. So companies that make protein powder can make the decision to sell it as one or the other.
And again, the way to tell if a protein powder is being sold as food is that it says “Nutrition Facts” on the back. If it’s being sold as a supplement, it will say “Supplement Facts” instead.
If you want more explanation for why different companies choose to sell their protein powder as food or supplement, check out this post.
But overall, know this: Most protein powders are sold as food. So most protein powders can be purchased with food stamps.
Lists of EBT Eligible Protein Powders
If you’re buying your protein powders in the store, you may need to just check each product to see if it’s labeled with “Nutrition Facts” (eligible) or “Supplement Facts” (not eligible).
But I figured I’d go ahead and do some of the research for you, and compile a list of EBT-eligible protein powders. Then I decided to break it into two lists… one list for plant-based protein, and one for whey and animal protein!
EBT Eligible Plant-Based Protein Powders
Here are some of the leading brands in plant-based protein powder that have a “Nutrition Facts” label and therefore can be bought with EBT.
The links go to Amazon (yes, Amazon accepts payment with EBT):
NOT EBT Eligible: LADDER Sport (100% Plant-Based), Sunwarrior Warrior Blend.
EBT Eligible Whey Protein and Animal Protein Powders
Here are some of the leading brands in whey protein powder and other animal-based proteins that have a “Nutrition Facts” label and therefore can be bought with EBT.
The links go to Amazon (which accepts EBT):
NOT EBT Eligible: Body Fortress, Vital Proteins (Collagen Peptides), Ancient Nutrition Multi (Collagen Protein Powder), MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Ripped, GENEPRO Protein, Pro Jym.
Can You Buy Creatine With Food Stamps?
Creatine cannot be purchased with food stamps (EBT) since it counts as a supplement, not a food.
Unlike protein powder, which is sometimes sold as a food and sometimes sold as a supplement, creatine monohydrate is always sold as a supplement. Therefore, it does not qualify as a “food” that you can buy with EBT.
Can You Buy Meal Replacement Shakes With Food Stamps?
Most meal replacement shakes can be purchased with food stamps (EBT), but it depends on the brand. Shakes that are sold as food and labeled with “Nutrition Facts” are EBT eligible. Shakes that are sold as supplements and labeled with “Supplement Facts” are not EBT eligible.
Basically, the answer for meal replacement shakes is the same as the answer for protein powders: Most of them can be bought with food stamps, but not all of them.
EBT Eligible Meal Replacement Shakes
Here are a sampling of popular meal replacement shake brands that have a “Nutrition Facts” label and are therefore EBT eligible. The links go to Amazon (which accepts EBT):
NOT EBT Eligible: Ka’Chava Meal Replacement Shake, RSP TrueFit Meal Replacement Shake, Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix.
What Can’t Be Bought With EBT?
EBT can be used to buy food products and plants and seeds used to grow food. EBT cannot be used to buy vitamins, medicines, alcohol, tobacco, hot foods, foods to be eaten in the store, hygiene products, pet food, or cosmetics. (source)
Where Can You Buy Protein Powder With EBT?
You can buy EBT eligible protein powders at supermarkets and grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Safeway, Albertson’s, Publix, and more. Supplement stores like Vitamin Shoppe and GNC do not typically accept EBT.
You can also buy protein powder with EBT online at sites like Amazon. (See my lists above for Amazon links to popular EBT-eligible protein powders.)
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