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Learn About SNAP Benefits in Wisconsin

Wisconsin food stamps can help you afford the food you need for a healthy diet if you are living with a low income. This benefit is federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but in this state, it is officially called FoodShare.

If you are qualified to receive SNAP benefits in WI, you will get an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which is also known as a QUEST card. This card looks and works like a debit card, except it only allows you to buy approved items.

Because SNAP food stamps can be used on such a wide variety of items, eligible foods are not usually labeled in the store. Therefore, it is important that you learn what you can use food stamp benefits on before you begin shopping. To learn more about using benefits and find out which items you can and cannot buy with your QUEST card, read the sections below.

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

SNAP assistance can be used to buy staple foods as well as accessory foods. A staple item is something you can find in one of the main food groups, such as protein or dairy. Accessory foods, on the other hand, usually do not count as a full meal or must be cooked with other things to be eaten. For example, cooking ingredients like flour are considered accessory items.

With that in mind, food stamps can help you buy any of the following products:

  • Grains such as bread, cereal or pasta.
  • Fruits and vegetables, which can be fresh, frozen or canned.
  • Meat, eggs, fish, poultry, tofu and other protein items.
  • Dairy products such as milk, infant formula, yogurt, cheese or butter.
  • Seeds and plants that you can grow at home.
  • Snacks like chips, nuts or crackers.
  • Cooking ingredients such as flour, sugar or baking powder.
  • Spices, seasonings and extracts.
  • Sauces and condiments such as barbeque sauce or mayonnaise.
  • Coffee, tea, soda, juice and other drinks.

Knowing where you can spend SNAP benefits is just as important as learning the types of things that you are allowed to buy. Many grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets and farmers’ markets accept benefits. Moreover, be mindful that these stores will typically display a QUEST logo to indicate that benefits are accepted at those establishments.

You can use Wisconsin SNAP food stamps to buy food in any state. This is because the same EBT system is used across the country. As a result, you can shop in neighboring states with ease or travel anywhere else in the U.S. while still having access to your benefits.

If you are a senior citizen, the SNAP program also allows you to spend benefits at group meal sites or on home meal delivery services such as Meals on Wheels. However, you can only use food stamps if the provider accepts QUEST payments. Learn more about what you can use your benefits on by downloading our free guide.

Products You Cannot Buy Using Food Stamps in Wisconsin

You are not allowed to spend SNAP food benefits in certain locations or use your benefits to buy prohibited items. Establishments where you cannot shop include liquor stores, casinos, cruise ships or other similar locations. You cannot buy food in a prohibited location even if you were to find an item that you could normally purchase at an approved store.

Most restaurants are not allowed to take food stamp benefits either. At participating restaurants, participants usually need to be homeless, elderly or have a disability to use their benefits. This is because these beneficiaries may not be able to cook for themselves at home.

Even at approved stores, there are certain items that you cannot buy with your benefits. As a general rule, food stamps cannot be spent on any of the following products, even if you find them at a participating store:

  • Non-food items such as paper products, cleaning supplies, cookware or other household goods.
  • Food that is meant to be eaten right away, including prepared items such as cheese platters.
  • Food that is sold hot, such as a hot pizza or deli meal.
  • Food not meant for humans, such as pet food or livestock feed.
  • Vitamins, medications and supplements, which includes anything with a Supplement Facts label.
  • Any type of alcohol, such as beer, wine or liquor.
  • Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars or other tobacco products.

Moreover, the Wisconsin food stamps program does not allow you to withdraw your benefits as cash. This means you cannot take out your food stamps balance at an ATM or ask for cash back with a purchase.

If you receive cash assistance in addition to food assistance, note that both of these benefits may be issued on the same QUEST card. Cash benefits and other types of assistance come with different rules.

How are food stamp benefits amounts calculated in Wisconsin?

There is no standard allotment of food stamps in Wisconsin due to the fact that each household has different circumstances. Income and family size play a significant role in determining the amount of assistance a household can get.

Participants may choose to use a food stamp calculator to determine if they qualify for benefits based on their income and family size. Note that a SNAP calculator cannot determine the exact amount of benefits a family will receive.

Keep in mind that your SNAP benefits amount may go up or down if your income or family size changes. Every time your benefits change, you will receive a notification in the mail. You may appeal any decisions that you disagree with.

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

Food stamp benefits will be issued no more than 30 days after you apply if you are approved for assistance. If you have extremely limited resources and income, you may qualify for emergency assistance that starts in no more than seven days. In either case, our benefits are backdated to the date that your application was received.

Once you start receiving assistance, your food stamp benefits will be loaded onto your QUEST card on the same day every month. You can access these new funds on the same day each month, even if it happens to be a weekend or holiday. Learn more about how your benefits work by downloading our guide.