Once you begin receiving food stamps in Louisiana, it is important that you understand how and where you can use your benefits. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is meant to supplement your monthly grocery budget, making it easier for you to afford foods that can be cooked and eaten at home. Because this benefit is supplemental, most eligible families use SNAP benefits in addition to their own funds when grocery shopping each month.
Louisiana SNAP food stamps can be used at a variety of locations, but they must only be spent on approved food items. In addition, there are certain establishments where benefits cannot be used at all. Read below to learn more about using your benefits and discover what factors can affect the amount of benefits you receive now and in the future.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Louisiana?
Food stamp benefits in Louisiana can be spent on a variety of items that you can cook or prepare at home. The main categories of foods you can buy include:
- Meat, poultry, fish and seafood, such as fresh meat cuts, deli meat, canned fish, eggs and other protein options.
- Fruits and vegetables that are fresh, frozen or canned.
- Dairy products such as cheese, butter, milk, infant formula and dairy alternatives.
- Bread, cereal and other grains.
These foods are considered staple items, meaning that they make up the majority of an average person’s diet. Most of these items can be cooked or otherwise prepared into a meal, as well as eaten on their own.
Under the Louisiana SNAP program, you are also allowed to buy a variety of accessory foods, which is a category that includes certain snacks, non-alcoholic beverages and ingredients that do not constitute a full meal or cannot be eaten on their own. Accessory foods you can buy include things such as:
- Chips, popcorn, cookies or other approved snacks.
- Spices, flour, sugar or cooking oil.
- Tea, coffee, soda and energy drinks.
- Condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise or hot sauce.
Lastly, you can also use food stamp benefits to buy seeds and plants that you will grow at home to produce your own fresh foods. Seeds, seedlings and fully-grown fruit and vegetable plants are allowable under this program. By downloading our free guide, you will learn more about what you can buy with SNAP benefits.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Louisiana
SNAP benefits cannot be used at certain establishments. Moreover, there are various items that you are not allowed to spend your funds on. As such, misusing your benefits is considered a violation that may result in your disqualification or even the requirement to repay your benefits.
As a general rule, Louisiana food stamps can only be used at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, superstores and other locations that have agreed to accept payment via these funds. However, not every store participates in this program, even if it sells grocery items. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees this program, does not allow cruise ships, casinos and other similar locations to accept benefits.
In addition, it is not possible to use SNAP benefits at restaurants, except in rare situations. For example, a select few restaurants are allowed to serve meals to SNAP beneficiaries who are homeless, elderly or have a disability, as well as certain beneficiaries who are unable to prepare meals at home.
While you can use SNAP assistance at a wide variety of locations, it is important to keep in mind that you cannot buy any product sold at an approved retail location. In general, Louisiana SNAP food benefits cannot be used to purchase any of the following:
- Alcohol, cigarettes or other tobacco products.
- Medicine, vitamins or supplements, which includes any product with a “Supplement Facts” label instead of a nutrition facts label.
- Prepared and pre-made foods that are meant to be eaten in the store or are ready-to-eat at home.
- Any food item that is sold hot, such as a rotisserie chicken or pizza.
- Non-food items such as pet food, paper products, cleaning products, cosmetics or toiletries.
Lastly, it is important to be aware that SNAP benefits can never be withdrawn as cash either from an ATM or as cash-back with a purchase. While some programs, such as the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP), allow you to withdraw benefits as cash, SNAP does not. Download our free guide to learn more about how you can and cannot use your benefits.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Louisiana?
Learning how your SNAP assistance is calculated can be just as important as understanding where and how to use your benefits. The amount of food stamps you receive is based mostly on your family size and income. Generally speaking, a larger family may receive a greater amount of benefits than a smaller family. This is due to the increased cost of buying groceries for a large household.
Using a food stamp calculator can help you determine if you meet the requirements for benefits based on your family size and income. A SNAP calculator takes your individual circumstances into account to determine what benefits you are eligible for. While there is a cap on the amount a family can receive based on its size, there is no standard allotment of benefits for SNAP. Instead, you will see what your exact benefit amount is when you are approved for the program.
Keep in mind that you will only receive food stamps for a set amount of time before you must recertify your eligibility. A change in your family size, income or other circumstances may affect the amount you receive or your ability to continue receiving assistance through this program.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Louisiana?
If you are approved for food stamps in Louisiana, you will typically begin receiving benefits in less than 30 days from the date of the application process. During certain emergency situations, it is possible to be approved within seven days. For example, your family may qualify for assistance more quickly if you have extremely limited resources.
Once you are granted SNAP food stamps, you will receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card. Generally, your benefits will be loaded onto this card within the first two weeks of each month. Moreover, be mindful that benefits will post on the same day every month, regardless of whether that day falls on a weekend or holiday.
Last Updated: February 23, 2023