Montana food stamps are issued by the state Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). This program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), makes it easier for low-income families and individuals to afford groceries every month. During enrollment, participants receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that is loaded on a monthly basis with benefits. Overall, EBT cards look and work similarly to a debit card to buy approved food items.
When you receive SNAP benefits in Montana, it helps to know what you can buy and where to shop. This program gives you the flexibility to buy qualified food items for you and your family. However, be mindful that there are limitations and rules that you will want to be aware of. Read below to learn more about using SNAP food stamps in Montana so you can get the most out of your benefits.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Montana?
The Montana SNAP program allows you to purchase a wide range of food at several different establishments. Generally, food stamp benefits are accepted at various grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets and farmers’ markets. In most cases, a location will display an EBT or QUEST logo to indicate that you can spend benefits there. You can also use resources from the DPHHS if you need help finding participating stores.
If you live near the border of another state or frequently travel to visit family in other areas of the country, it helps to know that Montana food stamp benefits can be used anywhere in the U.S. All states use the same system to process SNAP assistance payments, giving you the freedom to spend your benefits across the country.
After learning where you can use the funds issued by the food stamps program, it is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the items that you are allowed to purchase. Because there are so many different types of approved foods, most stores do not label items that are eligible under this program. Instead, it is your responsibility to know what you can and cannot buy.
Many approved foods are staple items, meaning that they make up the majority of your diet and can often count as a full meal. A variety of accessory foods are allowed under this program as well. Examples of accessory foods are snacks, cooking ingredients, beverages and other items that usually do not constitute a meal on their own. With that in mind, food stamps can be spent on any of the following things:
- Fruits and vegetables, including any fresh, frozen or canned variety.
- Meat, eggs, fish and poultry.
- Dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese or infant formula.
- Plant-based items such as tofu or soy milk.
- Bread, cereal, pasta and other grains.
- Snacks like chips, cookies, nuts or crackers.
- Coffee, tea, soda, juice and other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Cooking ingredients such as flour, salt, sugar or baking powder.
- Condiments and sauces like ketchup, soy sauce or barbeque sauce.
You can also use Montana SNAP benefits to buy seeds and plants to grow your own produce at home. Learn more about the types of food you are allowed to buy with your benefits in our free guide.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Montana
SNAP food stamps in Montana come with certain restrictions that you will want to learn about before using your EBT card. For instance, there are several places where you cannot spend your benefits, and there are also numerous types of products that you are not allowed to buy.
First, SNAP benefits cannot be spent in prohibited locations such as casinos, cruise ships or liquor stores. This is true even if you found a food item that you would normally be able to buy with your benefits. In such cases, you must use an alternative payment method to buy items.
Second, food stamps cannot be withdrawn in the form of cash. If you receive other types of benefits on the same EBT card, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), it is important to understand how each type of benefit can be used. Generally, TANF benefits may be taken out as cash at an ATM or other approved locations. However, SNAP benefits can never be used in this way.
Third, you generally cannot use SNAP food stamps to buy food at a restaurant. There are very few restaurants that are authorized to accept these benefits. Restaurants that do accept food stamps commonly only serve SNAP beneficiaries who are unable to cook for themselves, such as seniors, homeless people and residents with disabilities.
Finally, when shopping at approved stores, it is important to learn what items are not allowed for purchase. Under the SNAP program in Montana, you cannot buy any of the following things with your benefits:
- Any tobacco products.
- Beer, wine, liquor and other alcohol.
- Non-food items such as paper products, cleaning supplies or cosmetics.
- Food not meant for human consumption, such as pet food.
- Prepared or ready-to-eat food such as a deli sandwich or cheese platter.
- Food that is sold hot, such as a pizza or rotisserie chicken.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Montana?
The amount of food stamp benefits you receive is based on factors such as your household size and income. You can use a food stamp calculator to determine whether or not you are eligible for assistance based on these factors.
A SNAP calculator will not tell you the exact amount of benefits you can get and cannot give you a definite answer as to whether you will be approved. The best way to determine how much assistance you can get is to undergo the application steps with the DPHHS.
Keep in mind that the amount of benefits you get may go up or down if anything about your eligibility changes in the future. Learn more about the benefits of SNAP by downloading our free guide.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Montana?
If you are approved, SNAP food stamps will begin within 30 days. Otherwise, you may be eligible for benefits within seven days if you have an extremely limited income or if your combined household income is lower than the cost of your rent or mortgage.
Once you start receiving food stamps in Montana, your EBT card balance will be updated on the same day on a monthly basis. Benefits should be available regardless of whether that day falls on a holiday or weekend.