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Learn About SNAP Benefits in Oregon

In the past 20 years, food stamps in Oregon have been replaced with electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. These cards, which are also known as Oregon Trail cards, work and look like traditional debit cards. Thus, it is easier than ever for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to access their benefits and purchase the foods they want without slowing down the checkout line in a store.

If you are approved for OR SNAP benefits, you will need to understand the rules of the program and learn which items you may purchase with your EBT card. While there are many non-food items that cannot be purchased with your benefits, the list of foods that are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is extensive. Find out more about using your benefits below.

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

According to the federal SNAP program guidelines, all states must have the same general rules for items you can and cannot buy with your benefits. The main types of foods you may buy with your Oregon Trails card include:

  • Fruit and vegetables, raw or frozen.
  • Meat, poultry and fish.
  • Meat substitutes, such as tofu, seitan and mycoprotein.
  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt.
  • Breads and cereals.
  • Plants and seeds, which may be used to produce food for the household.

In addition, your OR SNAP food stamps may be used to buy pre-packaged items and certain snack foods, such as pretzels, chips and crackers. While snack foods are considered accessory foods, they are still perfectly acceptable for purchase with your benefits.

Other accessory food items that may be purchased with an EBT card include:

  • Dessert foods, such as cookies, doughnuts, brownies, cupcakes and ice cream.
  • Condiments, such as mustard, relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, hot sauce and vinegar.
  • Baking ingredients, such as flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Cooking ingredients, such as spices, salt, pepper and vegetable oils.

Keep in mind that these lists from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are not exhaustive. They are only meant to give you a general idea of the types of foods available for purchase with your benefits.

You may use your benefits at authorized grocery stores and farmers markets. These stores will often have signs on the front doors or by the registers that state EBT cards or Oregon Trail cards are accepted.

In addition, many farmers markets participate in SNAP Match. These markets will double the amount you can buy if you are using your benefits. For instance, you may buy $10 worth of food but only spend $5 in benefits.

If you are still concerned about what types of foods you may buy with your EBT card, download our free guide to learn more.

Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Oregon

The food stamp benefits rules prohibit you from purchasing certain items with your Oregon Trail card so that you do not abuse your benefits. It is against the law to use your benefits to buy certain non-food items that are sold in grocery stores and farmers markets.

You may not use your Oregon Trail card to buy the following items:

  • Beer, wine or liquor
  • Cigarettes, tobacco or vape products
  • Vitamins, medicines and supplements
  • Live animals
  • Prepared foods and hot foods, such as pizza that is cooked and sold hot, or fresh sandwiches made to order
  • Pet foods
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper products

You may have thought that you could use your SNAP assistance in Oregon to purchase vitamins and supplements because these are technically foods. However, the Federal Nutrition Service defines foods, for the purposes of SNAP, as items that have nutrition labels. If an item has a supplement label, it may not be purchased with an EBT card.

There are exceptions to the live-animals rule and the prepared foods rule. For example, you may buy shellfish such as lobster with your benefits, as long as they are removed from the water and you intend to cook and serve them at home. You may also buy certain live animals from meat markets if they are slaughtered before you pick them up from the store.

You are also allowed to use your SNAP food benefits to buy certain prepared foods from the bakery sections in stores. For instance, you may buy store-made bread, cakes, cookies, pies and other desserts as long as they are not meant to be eaten in the store. Generally, items that are sold behind a counter are prohibited, unless you are buying cold cuts.

If you are approved for cash assistance, all of these rules still apply. In other words, you may not withdraw cash from your assistance account and then use it to buy alcohol, tobacco or other prohibited items. If you are caught misusing your benefits, you may lose your eligibility for a minimum of 12 months. You may lose your eligibility permanently for multiple offenses.

How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Oregon?

A food stamp calculator may help you determine the benefit amount that you will receive if you qualify for the program. These calculators are usually offered by third-party websites and require you to submit personal information, such as the number of people in your household, the age of each household member, your monthly income and more.

Note: This calculator should not be confused with a SNAP calculator, which may determine your eligibility for the program in general.

Your monthly benefit amount, or allotment, is based on your net monthly income and your household size. For a household of two people, the maximum monthly allotment is $353. For a household of three, the maximum monthly allotment is $505. Remember that you may receive an allotment lower than the maximum, depending on your income.

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

According to the food stamps program guidelines, your EBT card will be mailed to you as soon as you are approved for the program. It may take several days for the card to reach you by mail. Once you receive your card, follow the instructions that come with it for using it.

The day that your Oregon Trail card is replenished each month depends on your Social Security Number (SSN). If your SSN ends in the number 2, for instance, you will receive your benefits on the second day of every month. Learn more about your SNAP benefits by downloading our free guide.

Last Updated: September 26, 2022