The Utah food stamps program helps thousands of state residents afford basic groceries and improve their health. Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) used to receive their benefits through stamps or vouchers. While these were helpful, they were known for slowing down the checkout lines at grocery stores. Thus, the introduction of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards greatly improved the experience for beneficiaries and made it easier for them to use their SNAP program funds.
When an applicant qualifies for SNAP benefits in UT, he or she must agree to follow the purchasing guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the state Department of Workforce Services (DWS). Overall, EBT cards may be used at authorized grocery stores, farmers’ markets and certain other establishments where food is sold. However, it is important to note that certain food items are strictly prohibited under the program guidelines. Learn more about how to use your SNAP food stamps in Utah by reading the sections below.
Which food items can you buy using food stamps in Utah?
The purpose of the Utah SNAP program is to expand the food budget of low-income households so that they can afford to purchase nutritious items. As a result, the program promotes healthy choices in the grocery store and has labeled certain items as staple foods.
The USDA recommends that staple foods make up a majority of your diet, and suggests that you use the majority of your SNAP allowance to purchase:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Meat substitutes, such as tofu, vegetable burgers or seitan.
- Grains and cereals, such as bread, rice, oats and quinoa.
If you use the majority of your SNAP food stamps in Utah on these items, you may improve the diets of your other household members.
However, be mindful that your SNAP benefits are not limited to these main food groups. You are also allowed to use your EBT card, which is sometimes called the Horizon EBT card in UT, for accessory foods, such as certain pre-packaged snacks, bakery items, condiments, baking ingredients and cooking ingredients. These include:
- Granola bars, pretzels, popcorn, chips and candy.
- Cookies, cake and muffins.
- Ketchup, mustard, relish, hot sauce, mayonnaise, peanut butter and jam.
- Flour, baking powder, sugar and vanilla extract.
- Vegetable oils, vinegar and dried spices.
Keep in mind that these lists, according to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program guidelines, are simply meant to be examples. Thus, they are not all-encompassing.
Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Utah
While the list of products you can purchase with an EBT card is extensive, your SNAP assistance does have certain restrictions. For instance, following the program’s requirements including purchasing guidelines is critical to maintaining your eligibility, because you may lose your benefits if you are caught intentionally misusing your EBT card.
As a general rule, you may not purchase the following items with your EBT card:
- Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine or liquor
- Vitamins, medicines and supplements
- Hot foods
- Prepared foods meant to be eaten in a store
- Pet foods
- Hygiene products and paper products
- Live animals
While your Utah SNAP food benefits may not be used for most prepared foods, they can be used for certain ready-to-eat items, including snacks and bakery treats. In some cases, you may purchase deli meats from behind a counter, even though you may not purchase other items sold behind a counter. Generally, the difference is that most prohibited foods are meant to be eaten in the store.
In addition, vitamins, medicines and certain other edible items are considered supplements, rather than food. To make sure you are buying an approved product, check to see if it has a nutrition label. Items with supplement labels, such as gummy vitamins, cough drops, whey protein and certain teas may not be purchased with an EBT card.
Finally, you are allowed to buy some live animals with your benefits as long as they are slaughtered before you pick them up. If you are buying shellfish, they must be removed from the water. For more information on prohibited versus approved SNAP foods, download our guide.
How are food stamps benefits amounts calculated in Utah?
A food stamp calculator may help you predict your monthly SNAP allotment if you qualify for benefits. These online calculators, sometimes called benefit estimators, require you to submit information about your personal circumstances, including:
- The number of people in your household
- The number of household members who are children, seniors or have a disability
- Your monthly income
- The amount you pay each month for your rent or mortgage and utilities
Once you enter this information and answer a few other questions, you will receive an estimate of your monthly benefit allotment.
Note: A benefits estimator is not the same as a SNAP calculator, which helps you determine your overall eligibility for the program.
The amount you receive in food stamps each month depends on your income and the size of your household. If you are in a two-person household, for instance, you may receive a maximum of $516.
Note that most people do not qualify for the maximum allotment. If you have an extremely low income and qualify for expedited services, however, you are more likely to receive the maximum benefit. In this case, you would need to request expedited application processing before applying for the program.
When do you start receiving SNAP benefits after applying in Utah?
If you receive a decision from the DWS about whether you qualify for SNAP benefits in Utah, the notice will explain the process for obtaining your EBT card. Generally, the card will be mailed to you as soon as possible.
You may begin using your benefits as soon as you receive your card, because your monthly allotment will be automatically added to your EBT account. After the first month, your allotment will be deposited into the account on a certain day of the month, which varies depending on the first letter of your last name. Get more information on using your benefits when you download our free guide.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023