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Learn About SNAP Benefits in Missouri

The Missouri food stamps program provides benefits to a monthly average of 745,983 low-income individuals and families. With these benefits, households are able to afford a variety of nutritious foods to help them lead a healthy lifestyle.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is commonly referred to as food stamps, is a federal nutrition program that provides monthly food benefits to households who may be at nutritional risk. In Missouri, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for administering the program for qualifying state residents, as well as determining the total benefit amount each household is eligible to receive.

Eligible residents receive their SNAP benefits in the form of an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which works much like a debit card. However, the total benefit allotment varies depending on a household’s size, makeup and combined income. Moreover, be mindful that other factors may affect how long a household can continue to receive benefits. To learn more about the SNAP program and the type of benefits you can receive, continue reading below.

Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Missouri?

You can buy a variety of foods using food stamps in Missouri, with very few limitations. Generally, the goal of the SNAP program is to provide access to food for families and individuals who are struggling to afford groceries. Moreover, this program aims to help these households achieve a balanced diet by introducing them to nutritious foods.

While you can still buy your fair share of junk food items and snacks, such as chips, cookies and ice cream, the goal of SNAP benefits is to help you afford real whole foods so that you can cook hearty meals that will sustain you. With your own EBT card, you have access to the following staple food items:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Poultry, meat and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds and plants to produce food

You also have the freedom to buy packaged and frozen foods and accessory food items. Other accessory foods include those added to your food to enhance your meal or add flavor. This includes:

  • Condiments
  • Dressings
  • Gravies
  • Seasonings
  • Syrups

You can also purchase cooking and baking ingredients with SNAP food stamps, such as olive oil, cooking wine and baking powder. Furthermore, you are able to buy non-alcoholic beverages such as milk alternatives, juice, iced tea, soda and more.

Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Missouri

With an array of items that you can purchase using food stamps, you may be wondering what food items you cannot buy using your EBT card. In general, you are not authorized to buy any hot foods or ready-to-eat meals that are prepared in a store. For instance, this means that you cannot buy rotisserie chicken made in the deli, even though they are sometimes cheaper than raw chicken.

Additionally, you cannot purchase any alcoholic beverages like liquor, beer and wine. You can, however, purchase cocktail mixers. Furthermore, cigarettes and tobacco products are also prohibited.

Any food item considered a supplement is not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. Thus, be sure to check for a nutritional label on the back of every food and beverage item you buy, particularly energy drinks. Certain drinks that are classified as supplements by the FDA. Moreover, vitamins and medicines are typically off limits, even those that are sold as gummies. Other items you cannot buy with SNAP food stamps include cleaning and household supplies, such as:

  • Soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toilet paper
  • Diapers
  • Paper towel

Grooming items and cosmetics are also not allowed for purchases with SNAP funds. Furthermore, food stamp benefits do not cover grocery bag fees charged at certain stores in an attempt to discourage waste. To learn more about what you can and cannot buy with SNAP, download our free guide.

How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Missouri?

The total amount of Missouri food stamp benefits you can receive depends on your household size, makeup and income level. By definition, your household is made up of anyone who lives with you and/or shares food with you, regardless of whether he or she is related to you.

Typically, the larger your household size, the more benefits you are likely to receive. Similarly, the more income you earn, the less your benefit allotment will be. However, be mindful that every household size has a maximum benefit allotment that they could receive. For instance, while a household of one can receive up to $192 in SNAP benefits, a household of six can receive up to $913.

Generally, you are expected to spend 30 percent of your income on food. Therefore, the amount you will receive in food stamp benefits is calculated by multiplying your family’s monthly net income by 0.3 and subtracting that amount from the maximum allotment for your household’s size.

If you need assistance when calculating the amount of benefits you can receive with SNAP, consider using a food stamp calculator. You can enter your financial resources and expenses to help you calculate the most accurate benefit allotment. Additionally, there are certain factors that can cause you to receive less or more in benefits. To find out more, download our free guide.

When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Missouri?

After applying for the SNAP program, you can expect to receive your food stamp benefits in 30 days. In emergency situations, you may be eligible to receive benefits in as little as seven days. However, you must meet certain qualifications. For example, you may be able to receive faster service if you have a rent or mortgage and/or utility costs that are more than your monthly income.

After receiving your EBT card, you can expect for your monthly SNAP benefits to disburse into your account every month for as long as your certification period allows. This can be three months or up to an entire year, depending on your needs as a household. When it comes time for recertification, you will need to verify your eligibility again to continue receiving benefits.