Alaska food stamps can be used to purchase a variety of food items. Benefits from this program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are accepted at various grocery stores and supermarkets around the state. While there are many stores that take SNAP benefits, it is important to know what you can and cannot buy before you start shopping.
It is also helpful to understand how soon your SNAP food stamps will be available, and how much you will receive in benefits. You generally receive a set monthly benefit amount, but it may change in the future based on your circumstances. Below, learn more about how SNAP assistance is issued and used so that you can get the most out of your benefits.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Alaska?
The Alaska SNAP program makes it easier to afford food items that you can cook and eat at home. Most food stamp benefits are spent on staple foods, which are items that make up the majority of a person’s diet. Examples of staple foods you can buy include:
- Milk products such as butter, cheese or infant formula.
- Non-dairy alternatives, such as almond milk or tofu.
- Breads, grains and cereals.
- Produce, including just about any kind of fruit or vegetable.
- Protein items including meat, fish and eggs.
Staple foods can be fresh, frozen, boxed or canned. For example, in you need fish, SNAP assistance can be used to buy canned tuna, frozen fish sticks or a fresh cut of fish from the meat counter.
Alaska SNAP food benefits can also be used on accessory foods, which are things that usually do not count as a whole meal on their own. Examples of accessory foods include:
- Certain snacks like chips, candy or ice cream.
- Beverages, including tea, coffee, sports drinks or juice.
- Cooking ingredients such as flour, sugar, spices or vegetable oil.
- Condiments and sauces like ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce or barbeque sauce.
SNAP benefits can be spent at participating grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and some farmers’ markets. If you travel outside of Alaska, you can use your benefits out-of-state as well.
However, you should contact the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) before using your card in a different state. Learn more about the foods you can buy with your benefits by downloading our free guide.
Did you know? In Alaska, the food stamps program also allows you to spend benefits on hunting or fishing equipment in some situations. You must live in a community that does not have easy access to retail stores in order to use your benefits on hunting and fishing gear.
Furthermore, you are only eligible to spend your food stamps this way if you rely on subsistence hunting and fishing. This means that you regularly hunt and fish for the purpose of harvesting food, rather than for recreation.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Alaska
Alaska SNAP benefits can only be used in certain ways. With that in mind, there are several places where you cannot spend your benefits. A wide range of products are also ineligible for this program.
When you receive food stamps in Alaska, your benefits cannot be used at casinos or on cruise ships. With a few exceptions, benefits are also not accepted at restaurants. The restaurants that do participate in the program are usually only allowed to serve beneficiaries who are elderly, disabled or homeless.
It is also important to note that SNAP program benefits cannot be taken out as cash at an ATM. Furthermore, you are not allowed to request cash back at the register after using your benefit card.
Meanwhile, food stamps are accepted at many stores, though certain items may be ineligible for purchase. Specifically, your benefits cannot be used on any of the following products:
- Alcohol, tobacco or cigarettes.
- Vitamins and supplements, including anything with a “Supplement Facts” label.
- Any form of medicine.
- Hot or ready-to-eat food items.
- Non-food items like pet food, cookware, paper products cosmetics or cleaning supplies.
If you wish to buy these items when shopping, simply put all of your SNAP-eligible items together and pay for them in one transaction. You can buy non-approved items using a different payment method in a separate transaction.
Note: If you are eligible to spend your SNAP assistance on hunting and fishing gear, keep in mind that some items are prohibited. For example, you cannot spend these benefits on guns, ammunition or hunting clothing, even though these items may be necessary for your hunt.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Alaska?
Understanding how your SNAP benefits are calculated can help you plan ahead. Mainly, the amount of assistance you receive will vary based on your household size and income. Your benefit amount may also depend on whether you are allowed to take any deductions.
For example, if you are elderly or disabled, you might be able to deduct the out-of-pocket amount you pay for medical services. A food stamp calculator can help you determine whether you are eligible for any of these deductions.
The amount of SNAP food stamps you receive will be listed on your benefit approval letter. Benefit amounts will generally stay the same unless there is a change to your circumstances, such as your income going up. You can use a SNAP calculator to figure out whether you are still eligible for assistance based on your current circumstances.
Keep in mind that you also need to recertify your benefits in order to continue receiving them for an extended period of time. However, you must report any changes that affect your eligibility for SNAP. Failing to tell the DHSS about any changes may result in penalties.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Alaska?
When you are approved for food stamps in Alaska, you will generally start receiving your benefits within 30 days of applying. Program benefits can even start in as little as seven days if the DHSS determines that you require emergency assistance.
Having an extremely low income or limited resources may make you eligible for emergency help. Find out more about the benefits when you download our free guide.
Last Updated: February 22, 2023