The Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is provided to low-income families and individuals who need help buying food. This program, also known as food stamps, makes it easier for eligible families to afford groceries. Beneficiaries receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that works much like a debit card. Every month, funds are loaded onto the EBT card. In Texas, EBT cards are also referred to as Lone Star Cards.
The total amount of TX SNAP benefits you may receive varies depending on factors related to your household. In most cases, SNAP food stamps do not cover your entire grocery expense for the month. Instead, this benefit is meant to supplement your existing resources and make it easier for you to afford food for the month. Read below to learn more about the SNAP program in Texas and discover how to use your benefits.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Texas?
Texas food stamp benefits can be used on a wide range of food items. According to SNAP guidelines, most items are categorized as staple foods or accessory foods. Accessory foods do not usually constitute a full meal, or they can only be used as an ingredient when cooking other things. Alternatively, a staple food is something that can be eaten on its own or cooked into a full meal. Examples of staple foods include:
- Meat, fish, poultry or eggs
- Dairy products such as milk, butter, yogurt, baby formula or cheese
- Non-dairy alternatives such as tofu or soy milk
- Fruits and vegetables
- Bread, cereal, pasta and other grains
There are many different varieties of food within each of these categories. For example, when it comes to vegetables, SNAP assistance can be used to buy fresh broccoli, frozen mixed vegetables or canned green beans. These things can be eaten alone or cooked with other ingredients.
Accessory foods include snacks, beverages, cooking ingredients, condiments and other foods that do not typically count as a full meal. Examples of accessory foods include:
- Coffee, tea, energy drinks or juice
- Ketchup, mustard, mayo or soy sauce
- Flour, baking powder, sugar or cooking oil
- Chips, candies or cookies
- Salt, pepper, spices and other seasonings
Lastly, you are allowed to use food stamps on seeds and plants that can be grown at home for fresh produce. For example, you can spend SNAP food benefits to buy tomato plants or seeds to grow herbs.
Texas SNAP benefits are accepted at a wide range of grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and even some farmers’ markets. Retail locations will usually post a logo on the door indicating that they accept EBT cards. Learn more about where you can use benefits and what you can buy by downloading our guide.
Furthermore, it is important to note that you can use Texas food stamps at participating retailers in any state. There is no law against traveling to other places in the U.S. to use your benefits. This allows you to visit family or take trips in other places while still having access to benefits.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Texas
Understanding what you cannot spend food stamps on is just as important as learning what you can buy. There is some confusion about where SNAP benefits can be used and where they cannot.
To avoid any issues, it helps to know that benefits can never be used at casinos or on cruise ships. Even if you were able to find an approved food item in one of these places, you would not be able to buy it with your EBT card.
Moreover, most restaurants do not work with the Texas food stamps program either. There are very few restaurants that accept benefits. Generally, restaurants that take food stamps as payment only serve seniors, the homeless or people with disabilities who cannot cook at home.
SNAP benefits can be used at a wide range of grocery stores and superstores. However, you cannot buy just any item at a participating store. Prohibited items include:
- Non-food items like pet food, paper products or cookware
- Alcohol, cigarettes or tobacco products
- Hot foods, such as a rotisserie chicken
- Prepared food items meant for immediate consumption, like a meal from the deli
While certain benefits can be withdrawn from an ATM as cash, it is important to note that SNAP benefits can never be taken out as cash. Therefore, you are also not allowed to receive cash back with a purchase made with your EBT card.
How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Texas?
Using a food stamp calculator can help you determine whether you meet the requirements for benefits or not. By entering your income and other details into a SNAP calculator, you will not generally see the amount of benefits you will receive. Rather, a SNAP benefits calculator can give you an idea of whether you are able to get benefits at all. The only way to see your exact benefit amount is to apply for assistance.
Each household receives a different amount of food stamps based on things such as household size and income. There is no standard benefit amount. However, there are caps on the amount of benefits a family can receive. Remember that SNAP food stamps are not meant to cover the entire cost of groceries for the month.
Your total benefit amount may go up or down over time if your circumstances change. Keep in mind that you will need to recertify your eligibility in order to continue receiving assistance over time. Thus, the amount of TX food stamps you receive is subject to change.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Texas?
Food stamps are usually issued within 30 days of receiving your application date. You may qualify to expedite the application process and receive assistance in less than seven days if you have extremely limited resources and income. Upon approval, your benefits start date is based on the day that you submitted your application.
Once you begin receiving SNAP food stamps in Texas, your benefits will be loaded onto an EBT card on the same day each month. The date your benefits are transferred depends on the digits contained in your SNAP case number. For example, if your case number ends in a 1, your benefits will always be issued on the third day of the month. Learn more about SNAP benefits by reading our free guide.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023