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What you can and cannot buy with food stamps

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Saturday, August 31, 2013, at 10:02 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Sep. 5, 2013, at 6:46 a.m.

Myths and facts about food stamp purchase rules:

• A lot of people use food stamps for cigarettes and booze.

False. Contrary to popular belief, the cards are not good for beer, wine, liquor or tobacco. They can be used to buy bread, cereal, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and dairy products (as long as they are not meant to be eaten in the store).

• You can buy a huge birthday cake with a food stamp card.

True. The cards are good for birthday cakes as long as the value of “non-edible decorations” doesn’t exceed 50 percent of the price. The cards are also good for candy, cookies, ice cream and soft drinks.

• You can buy one of those energy drinks with a food stamp card.

True. Energy drinks are OK, but only if they have a nutrition facts label. Those without such labels are considered “supplements” and are not eligible.

• You can use food stamps at Halloween to buy a jack-o’-lantern.

False, kind of. Pumpkins are allowed, but only if they are intended for food, such as pumpkin pie, but not if purchased solely for “ornamental purposes.”

• Food stamps can be used to buy dog food.

False. The cards don’t work for nonfood items such as pet food, soap, paper products, cleaners, vitamins or medicine. No live animals either, even if you intend to cook them when you get home.

Reach Mike McGraw at 816-234-4423 or mcgraw@kcstar.com.

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