Learn About SNAP Benefits in New Mexico
The New Mexico Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) makes it easier for you to afford groceries for your family. This program, commonly referred to as food stamps, provides you with monthly funds to help you buy groceries. As such, you will receive your benefits on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which looks and works much like a debit card. EBT cards may also be used for other benefits if you qualify for more than one program, such as cash assistance.
Knowing what you can and cannot buy with New Mexico SNAP food stamps is important before you begin shopping. In most cases, items you can buy with SNAP benefits are not specifically labeled, meaning that it is your responsibility to know which products are eligible. Read below to learn more about using your benefits and find out where you can and cannot shop.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in New Mexico?
The New Mexico SNAP program allows you to buy a wide range of food at participating stores. Before leaning what items you can purchase, it helps to know what places accept benefits.
As a general rule, NM SNAP assistance can be used at many different grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as certain farmers’ markets. Most times, you can tell whether an establishment accepts benefits because it will display an EBT or QUEST logo on the storefront.
There are many different products you can buy with benefits. However, it is important to note that because there are so many different types of eligible food, allowable items typically do not have special labels. In any case, food stamp benefits can generally be spent on two main categories of food: staple items and accessory foods.
A staple item is something that comes from one of the major food groups, such as grains or proteins. Alternatively, accessory foods are things that complement or supplement a meal and cannot typically be eaten on their own, such as cooking ingredients. With that in mind, you can buy any of the following types of food with your benefits:
- Bread, cereal, oatmeal, pasta and other grain products.
- Meat, fish, other seafood, poultry and eggs.
- Fresh, frozen or canned fruits, vegetables and herbs.
- Milk, cheese, butter, infant formula, yogurt and other dairy products.
- Seeds and plants that you can grow at home for your own produce.
- Coffee, tea, soda and other beverages.
- Cooking ingredients like flour, sugar, salt or baking powder.
- Spices and seasonings.
- Snacks such as crackers, nuts or chips.
There are many variations of acceptable foods within each of these categories. For more information on the types of food you are allowed to buy with SNAP food benefits, download our free guide.
Note: The food stamps program allows you to use benefits at approved stores in any state. This makes it easier to shop in a neighboring state if you live near the border. You can also have more food security when traveling to visit family in other areas of the country.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in New Mexico
SNAP benefits come with certain limitations that you will want to familiarize yourself with before you go grocery shopping. Overall, there are several types of items that you are not allowed to spend your benefits on. Furthermore, benefits may not be spent in certain locations.
First, you cannot use NM food stamps on prohibited items even if you are shopping at a SNAP-approved store. Examples of things you cannot buy include:
- Any form of alcohol, including beer, wine or liquor.
- Tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco.
- Food that is not meant for human consumption, such as pet food.
- Prepared foods that are fit for immediate consumption, such as a cheese tray or a sandwich from the deli counter.
- Foods that are sold already hot, such as a rotisserie chicken or a hot pizza.
- Household products like cleaning supplies, paper products, cookware or food storage containers.
Second, you cannot shop with SNAP benefits at prohibited establishments. As an example, these funds may not be used in casinos, on cruise ships, in liquor stores or other similar locations. It is important to note that you cannot spend SNAP food stamps on any items in these places, even if you find a food item that you would normally be able to purchase.
Third, the SNAP program generally does not work in restaurants. In most cases, when a restaurant is allowed to take benefits, it can only serve participants who are not able to cook for themselves at home. This may include seniors, people with disabilities and/or homeless beneficiaries.
Finally, New Mexico food stamp benefits cannot be taken out as cash. This means that you cannot withdraw your food stamp funds at an ATM or ask for cash back with a purchase when spending your benefits.
If you receive other types of cash assistance on the same EBT card, it is important to remember that these benefits are eligible for cash withdrawals in most situations. However, the SNAP portion of your benefits cannot be used in this way.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in New Mexico?
The amount of food stamps you receive will vary depending on your individual circumstances. You may find it helpful to use a food stamp calculator to determine if you are qualified based on your situation.
Generally, a SNAP calculator cannot tell you the exact amount of assistance you can get. Instead, applying for assistance is the only sure way to tell how much you will actually receive if you are approved.
Note that your SNAP benefits may go up or down if your situation changes. For example, if you make more income when you renew your benefits, you might receive a smaller portion of assistance for the future.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in New Mexico?
You will get your first food stamp benefits within 30 days of applying. If you qualify for emergency assistance, your first allotment will be available within seven days. Once your benefits begin, you will receive them on the same day each subsequent month. Usually, this day will fall within the first 20 days of the month.
The date that you get your assistance is based on the last two digits of your Social Security Number. In any case, you will receive your benefits on the same day, regardless of whether it falls on a weekend or holiday. Learn everything else you need to know about receiving and using your benefits by downloading our free guide.