The state Department of Human Services (MDHS) is responsible for issuing food stamps in Mississippi. This benefit, which is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is provided for low-income families and individuals who need help paying for groceries each month. SNAP benefits are meant to supplement a household’s grocery budget, making it easier to afford healthy foods.
Overall, Mississippi SNAP food stamps can be spent on a wide range of items at various stores. However, there are certain restrictions that beneficiaries should be aware of. Learn more about using food stamp benefits in Mississippi and discover how benefit amounts are calculated by reading the sections below.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Mississippi?
SNAP assistance in Mississippi makes it easier for you to buy food that can be prepared and eaten at home. Many of the eligible items are considered staple foods, meaning that they can constitute a full meal on their own.
Moreover, various types of accessory foods can be purchased as well. By definition, accessory items are foods that typically cannot be eaten alone, such as snacks and cooking ingredients. As such, benefits from the SNAP program can be used to buy any of the following:
- Fruits and vegetables in any form, including fresh, frozen or canned produce.
- Protein items such as meat, fish, eggs or plant-based alternatives like tofu.
- Milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, infant formula and other dairy products.
- Seeds and plants that you can use to grow your own produce at home.
- Bread, cereal, pasta and other grain products.
- Snacks such as chips, crackers or candy.
- Non-alcoholic beverages such as tea, coffee or juice.
- Cooking ingredients like flour, sugar or baking soda.
- Spices, seasonings and condiments that can complement a meal.
Because there are so many types of food that you can buy with your SNAP benefits, eligible items are generally not labeled at the store. As a result, it is up to you to know which items are approved.
Many stores accept Mississippi food stamps, including various grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores. You can even use SNAP food benefits at certain farmers’ markets. In most cases, a store will display a logo at its storefront, signaling that benefits are accepted at that location.
SNAP assistance is not limited to local stores. Despite the fact that most beneficiaries tend to shop close to home, it is possible to use benefits in any state. This makes it easier for SNAP participants to travel while still having access to their benefits.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Mississippi
The food stamps program comes with certain limitations that you will want to familiarize yourself with before shopping. Overall, despite the fact that you are allowed to buy a wide range of foods, certain products cannot be purchased using SNAP. These include the following:
- Beer, wine, liquor and other types of alcohol.
- Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars and other tobacco-related products.
- Medication, vitamins and supplements, which includes any product with a “supplement facts” label.
- Non-food items such as pet food, toiletries, household supplies or cookware.
Moreover, SNAP benefits cannot be used on hot foods or items that are fit for immediate consumption. For examples, cheese trays, deli meals, hot pizzas and rotisserie chickens are prohibited, even though they are objectively considered food items.
In most cases, you cannot spend food stamps at restaurants. Most restaurants that are allowed to take SNAP food stamps only serve beneficiaries who are elderly, homeless or disabled and are unable to cook for themselves at home.
There are certain circumstances when SNAP benefits are never allowed to be used. First, you are not allowed to spend your funds at casinos, on cruise ships or at other prohibited establishments, such as liquor stores. Even if you found a food item that you would normally be able to buy at one of these places, you would not be able to purchase it using your benefits.
Secondly, SNAP food benefits cannot be withdrawn in the form of cash. There is sometimes confusion about this limitation, particularly if you receive cash assistance on the same benefit card from other programs. Just keep in mind that your SNAP balance cannot be withdrawn as cash even if other benefits can be used in this way. Learn more about what you can and cannot do with SNAP benefits by downloading our free guide.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Mississippi?
Using a food stamp calculator is a helpful way to determine whether or not you are eligible for assistance. A SNAP calculator allows you to enter information on your income, household size and other factors that can affect your eligibility. Once you have entered these variables, you can get a better idea of whether or not you will qualify for these benefits.
A SNAP benefits calculator cannot tell you the exact amount of assistance you will receive, nor will it tell you that you will be definitively approved for assistance. The only sure way to actually determine if you are eligible, as well as the amount of assistance you will qualify for, is to undergo the application process. Once your form is received, the MDHS will send you a letter that states your eligibility and benefit amount.
Keep in mind that your SNAP benefits may be higher or lower in the future, depending on whether certain factors change. As such, you must update the MDHS with certain information to ensure that you are always receiving the correct amount of assistance. Furthermore, note that any benefits you receive in error must be repaid.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Mississippi?
Food stamps are typically issued within 30 days of your application being received. However, the MDHS may grant you emergency food assistance if you have extremely limited resources and income. In such cases, you can get benefits in as little as seven days.
Once your SNAP benefits begin, your account will be loaded on the same day every month. Generally, your funds will be available regardless of whether that day falls on a weekend or holiday. This makes it easier for you to plan shopping trips and access your benefits. Learn more about the benefits you may receive by downloading our free guide.