Once you begin receiving food stamps in Kentucky, it is important to understand how and where you can use these funds. Benefits received from this program, which is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), may only be used to buy approved items at participating stores. With that in mind, there are limitations as to where you can shop with SNAP benefits and the types of products that you can purchase.
The SNAP program is meant to supplement your family’s existing resources for buying groceries and other food items, all of which can be used to cook meals at home. As such, most families do not receive enough benefits on a monthly basis to cover their entire grocery bill. Read below to learn more about the types of food you can buy and discover which factors determine the amount of benefits you receive.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Kentucky?
Kentucky SNAP food stamps can be used for a variety of foods that can be cooked or prepared at home. Acceptable food items include the following:
- Fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
- Dairy products and eggs.
- Bread, cereal and other grains.
- Other Ingredients for making meals from scratch.
- Most snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Seeds and plants that can be grown at home for fresh food.
Most of the items listed above are considered “staple foods,” as they make up the largest portion of a person’s diet and can be cooked into a variety of healthy meals. Snacks, beverages and other ingredients are usually considered accessory foods, as these cannot generally constitute a meal on their own. For example, food stamp benefits in Kentucky may be used to purchase chips, cookies and candies, but these items are not as versatile as staple foods.
Kentucky SNAP food benefits can be used at a variety of retail locations, as well as certain farmers’ markets that have agreed to accept benefits. The vast majority of benefits are used at grocery stores, superstores and other similar locations that sell groceries.
While most families use SNAP assistance when shopping for food close to home, there is no limit to using your benefits out of state. With that in mind, if you are traveling elsewhere in the U.S. to visit family or take a trip, you can still use your benefits to buy food at local stores. Learn more about using your food stamp benefits by reading our free guide.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Kentucky
Many people hold misconceptions about how food stamps can be used. If you receive SNAP benefits, it is just as important to learn what types of products you are not allowed to spend your funds on before you get to the store. For instance, you cannot purchase any of the following with your benefits:
- Alcohol or tobacco products.
- Prepared foods that are meant to be eaten right away or eaten in the store.
- Any food that is sold hot, such as a rotisserie chicken, hot soup or a ready-to-eat pizza.
- Non-food household products such as paper towels, cookware or cleaning supplies.
- Pet food or live animals, with the exception of shellfish that is meant to be cooked at home.
- Vitamins, medicines or anything with a “Supplement Facts” label instead of a nutrition facts label.
While you cannot use Kentucky food stamps on certain items, there are also a few locations where you cannot shop with your benefit card. For example, the food stamps program does not allow you to use benefits at casinos, on cruise ships or retail locations that do not participate in this program.
In most cases, restaurants will also not accept SNAP benefits. As an exception, a few restaurants are allowed to sell meals to SNAP beneficiaries who are homeless, seniors or have a disability and do not have the means to cook at home.
Lastly, note that SNAP benefits in KY cannot be withdrawn as cash. Therefore, you cannot use your electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card at an ATM or receive cash back with your grocery store purchase.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Kentucky?
In addition to learning how you can use food stamps, it also helps to understand how your benefit amount is determined. While several factors affect your total SNAP benefits amount, the most important details are your family size and income. Generally speaking, a larger family will receive a greater amount of benefits than a smaller family, as there is an increased cost when buying food for a larger household.
You may use a food stamp calculator to determine if you are eligible for benefits based on your family size and income. Keep in mind that changes to your income, family composition or other eligibility factors will affect the amount you are able to receive. If a SNAP calculator indicates that you are eligible, it is still important to be aware of how your eligibility may change over time.
Because your eligibility is affected by household changes, you must report any new information to the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services (DCBS). Depending on your situation, you will either be required to report changes each month, at every benefit renewal or as soon as these changes occur. Failing to report information that could affect the amount of your food stamps may result in adverse actions.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Kentucky?
Kentucky food stamps are usually granted shortly after you apply. By law, the DCBS has 30 days to approve or deny your application and give you a written notice. However, you may be able to receive benefits more quickly if your family has extremely limited resources or income when you apply. Food stamp benefits may be awarded in as little as seven days in any of the following situations:
- The cost of your rent and utilities is higher than your household’s gross monthly income.
- Your monthly income is lower than $150, and you have less than $100 in a bank account.
- You have household members who are migrants or seasonal farm workers with no income or resources.
Learn more about how to use food stamps by reading our free guide.