The Georgia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits that you can use to buy groceries each month. These benefits, most commonly known as food stamps, are loaded onto an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which looks and works similar to a debit card. This card can be used at a wide variety of stores to buy eligible food items.
In most cases, your SNAP program benefits are meant to supplement your grocery budget, not cover the entire cost of food for the month. Additionally, there are some limitations to how and where this program works.
Once you start receiving benefits, it is important to learn what products you cannot buy and the places you are not allowed to use your EBT card. Below, find out more about using SNAP benefits in Georgia, including the types of items you can and cannot buy with food assistance funds.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Georgia?
Food stamp benefits can be used at any grocery store, supermarket or farmers’ market that accepts EBT cards. There are a wide range of stores that work with the food stamps program, including major grocery chains and locally owned stores.
In most cases, a store will display an EBT or QUEST logo in its window to indicate that you can spend your benefits at that location. If you are unsure of whether a store accepts SNAP benefits, you can also ask an employee before you start shopping.
Most Georgia SNAP food benefits are spent close to home at local stores. However, you can use your EBT card in any state.
This is because every state uses the same system to process payments made with benefit transfer cards. Because benefits are accepted across state lines, you can easily travel or visit family in other areas of the country while still having access to your funds.
SNAP assistance is meant to be used on food that you can cook or eat at home. As such, many different categories of food can be purchased with benefits from this program. For example, you are allowed to buy any of the following:
- Protein like meat, fish or eggs.
- Plant-based foods like almond milk or tofu.
- Dairy such as milk, cheese, yogurt or infant formula.
- Canned, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Grains such as cereal, bread or pasta.
- Certain snacks like cookies, chips or crackers.
- Cooking ingredients such as flour, sugar or baking soda.
- Non-alcoholic beverages including soda, tea, coffee, juice or energy drinks
- Seeds and plants that you can use to grow vegetables and fruits at home.
Some of these foods may constitute a full meal on their own, while others must be cooked with other ingredients before they can be eaten. This list is not all-inclusive. For more details on the types of items that food stamps can buy, download our free guide now.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Georgia
Understanding what you cannot buy with SNAP benefits is just as important as learning what you are allowed to purchase. Because this program is intended to help you buy food, certain items are naturally excluded. For example, you cannot buy:
- Cigarettes and tobacco products.
- Paper products or cleaning supplies.
- Cookware or household items.
- Cosmetics or hygiene items.
- Vitamins and medicines.
- Any product with a “supplement facts” label.
Other food-related items are also prohibited. To avoid confusion at the store, it helps to be aware that alcohol, hot foods, prepared foods or any ready-to-eat items are not allowed. For example, you cannot buy a rotisserie chicken or a meal from the deli, even if these items come from an approved grocery store.
GA food stamps also cannot be used in certain locations, even to buy approved food items. For example, you cannot spend these benefits at casinos or on cruise ships. EBT cards are also not accepted at liquor stores in most cases.
If you receive SNAP food stamps in addition to cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, there may also be some confusion about taking your benefits out as cash. Overall, SNAP benefits can never be withdrawn as cash at an ATM.
You also cannot receive cash back with a purchase, even if you are shopping at an approved grocery store. Cash assistance benefits, on the other hand, can be withdrawn in this way. If you receive both types of benefits on your card you can avoid issues by keeping these rules in mind.
Lastly, SNAP assistance cannot be used at restaurants, except in rare situations. If a restaurant does accept these benefits, it usually is only allowed to serve beneficiaries who cannot cook at home, such as people who are elderly, disabled or homeless.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Georgia?
Using a food stamp calculator can be a useful way to determine if you are eligible for assistance. However, keep in mind that applying for benefits is the only way to get an accurate idea of what your benefits may be.
The amount of assistance you get is based on your income and household size, among other individual factors. There is no standard benefit amount. However, there are caps on the benefits you can receive based on your household size.
It is also important to be aware that your SNAP assistance benefit amount may change in the future. For example, if your income changes, your benefits may go up or down. Learn more about the benefits by downloading our free guide.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Georgia?
Your food stamps will usually begin arriving within 30 days or less once you are approved. Various factors can affect how long it takes to process your application. For example, if your form was missing certain information, it may take slightly longer for a caseworker to process your application.
Note: In emergency situations, you can receive benefits in as little as seven days. A caseworker will determine if you are eligible for emergency benefits based on the amount of your income and resources.
Last Updated: September 26, 2022