The Connecticut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps you afford food at grocery stores, certain farmers’ markets and supermarkets. Through this program, commonly known as food stamps, you receive funds each month on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
This money can be spent on a variety of approved food items. While SNAP benefits can help you afford groceries, they are not meant to cover your family’s entire grocery budget for the month. In most cases, you should plan on spending some of your own money in addition to your benefits.
The amount of benefits you receive varies based on your circumstances. Knowing how much you will get and when your benefits will start helps you plan ahead for each shopping trip. Find out more about the SNAP program in CT below and also discover how and where to use your benefits.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Connecticut?
Food stamp benefits can be spent on a wide variety of items. However, the first step in determining what you can buy is learning where you can shop.
SNAP assistance is accepted at many grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and even farmers’ markets. In most cases, participating stores will display a QUEST logo in the window. This tells you that EBT cards are accepted at that location.
SNAP food benefits may be spent on staple foods or accessory foods. A staple food item is something that makes up the majority of your diet, such as:
- Protein items, like meat, fish, poultry, eggs or plant-based protein like tofu.
- Dairy products and non-dairy alternatives including milk, almond milk, butter, cheese or yogurt.
- Fruits and vegetables that are fresh, frozen or canned.
- Grains such as pasta, bread, cereal or oatmeal.
- Seeds and plants that you can use to grow fruits, veggies or herbs at home.
An accessory food, on the other hand, usually does not count as a full meal on its own. For example, accessory items can include cooking ingredients like flour. With that in mind, SNAP benefits can be spent on all of the following items as well:
- Snacks such as chips, cookies, candy or crackers.
- Beverages such as soda, juice, coffee, tea or sports drinks.
- Ingredients like flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla extract or cooking oil.
- Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise or hot sauce.
- Seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder or allspice.
It is important to be aware that Connecticut food stamps can be used in any state. This makes it easier to shop in a bordering state or travel to visit family in another part of the country. Learn more about where you can shop and what you can buy when you download our free guide.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Connecticut
SNAP food stamps also come with limitations that you must follow. In fact, there are certain places where you cannot use an EBT card. There are also a variety of items you cannot buy with your benefits, even if you are shopping at an approved location.
For example, you are not allowed to use food stamps in places such as casinos, liquor stores or cruise ships. Even if you found an item that you would usually be able to buy, you would not be allowed to purchase it in one of these locations. This is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not authorized these types of places to take benefits.
Connecticut SNAP food benefits also cannot be withdrawn as cash. If you receive other types of cash assistance on your EBT card, these benefits may be withdrawn at an ATM or received as cash back with a purchase.
However, the SNAP portion of your benefits cannot be taken off of the card. Even if you are buying approved items at a grocery store, you cannot request cash back if you are paying with your SNAP balance.
Next, it is important to be aware that the SNAP program does not work at most restaurants. In fact, there are very few restaurant establishments that are authorized to take benefits.
When a restaurant does work with the food stamps program, it is usually only allowed to serve people who are unable to cook for themselves at home. This can include SNAP beneficiaries who are elderly, disabled or homeless.
CT food stamps must only be spent on approved items. With this in mind, there are several things that you are not allowed to buy even if you are shopping at a store that takes benefits. Prohibited items include:
- Foods that are already hot or ready-to-eat.
- Alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and liquor.
- Cigarettes or any other tobacco product.
- Non-food items like pet food, cleaning supplies, cookware or cosmetics.
- Vitamins, medicines and anything with a “supplement facts” label.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Connecticut?
Looking at a food stamp calculator can help you determine if you meet eligibility standards for assistance. However, the only way to know exactly how much assistance you will get each month is to submit an application. If approved, your benefit award letter will tell you the amount you will receive each month.
It is important to understand that your amount of benefits may change over time as your financial or household circumstances change. For example, if your income goes up, your benefit amount may go down. Using a SNAP calculator can help you determine if you are still eligible after certain life changes.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Connecticut?
If approved, you will receive SNAP food benefits no more than 30 days after you apply. If you have extremely limited income and resources, you can even get approved for benefits in seven days or less.
The Department of Social Services (DSS) will determine whether you are eligible for emergency SNAP assistance. In any case, your benefits will usually be dated back to the day that you submitted your application. That means you can typically receive assistance for the month that you first applied.
If you are unable to use all of your benefits in one month, they will roll over to the next month. Learn everything else you need to know about receiving and using your benefits by downloading our free guide.