Can You Buy Protein Powder with Food Stamps/EBT/SNAP? The Details…

Can you buy protein powder and other supplements with SNAP/EBT/Food Stamps?

Making purchases through government assistance programs, more commonly known as food stamps, SNAP, or EBT, can be a tricky process. The rules can be a bit convoluted and difficult to understand. This article will explain whether or not you can use food stamps to buy protein powder, and provide you with a large list of grocery stores that both sell protein powder and accept food stamps.

Can You Buy Protein Powder with Food Stamps?

It depends on the exact protein powder you’d like to buy. While you can buy almost any food item with your EBT card, you cannot buy vitamins or supplements. Some protein powders are sold as food, while others are sold as supplements. Whether or not you can purchase a particular product will depend on whether it’s sold as a food or as a supplement.

One way to check this is to read the label on the back of the product. If the label is titled “Supplement Facts,” this product is considered a supplement and cannot be purchased using food stamps. If the label says “Nutrition Facts,” then the product can be purchased with the SNAP benefits on your EBT card. There’s a huge number of protein powders on the market, and while most are sold as supplements, keep an eye out for that “Nutritional Facts” label so that you know which ones are considered food.

If you have a question about a particular product’s EBT eligibility, you can use the USDA Ask the Expert tool to email your question to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Can You Buy Other Supplements with Food Stamps?

The same rules apply to all other items you may want to purchase with food stamps or SNAP benefits. SNAP recipients cannot use their benefits to buy anything that is considered a vitamin or a supplement. Certain protein bars can be purchased if they have a “Nutrition Facts” label rather than a “Supplement Facts” label. This same distinction applies to weight loss shakes and ready-made protein shakes as well.

If you’re interested in what non-supplemental items you can buy with SNAP/EBT, check out our articles: What Can You Buy with Food Stamps/EBT? Listed. Plus What You Can’t and Can You Buy Ensure with Food Stamps/SNAP/EBT? Answered.

What Grocery Stores Accept Food Stamps?

Almost all grocery stores with multiple locations take EBT cards. Occasionally small, local grocers won’t. Grocery stores have to complete and application to become and approved retailer and install the system that reads EBT cards. While usually the cost of taking these steps is well worth the increased businesses, you’ll still find some smaller stores that haven’t gotten around to it. But, by and large, almost all grocery stores take EBT.

We’ve already sorted through the official USDA list to give you a digested version. See our articles on EBT — Grocery Stores That Accept EBT/Food Stamps/SNAPGas Stations That Accept EBT/Food Stamps/SNAP, EBT Food Delivery: List of Grocery Stores That Accept EBT for Delivery, and What Fast Food Places Take EBT/Food Stamps/SNAP? Here’s the List — to get straight to the info you want about where to use your EBT card.

In Summary

If the product is considered a supplement, you cannot use food stamps for the purchase. However, some protein powders have a “Nutrition Facts” label instead of a “Supplement Facts” label, which means that EBT can be used for that item.

So can you buy protein powder with EBT/Food Stamps? Yes. If you read the labels, shop at the right stores, and buy strategically, yes, you will be able to put your EBT benefits towards your protein powder purchase.

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4 comments

  • Last month I brought regular Six Star 100% Creatine Monohydrate and chocolate Muscle Milk with my EBT. This month I was not able to buy it again.

    • Lindsey Desmet says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hello, Edwin! Muscle Milk has a Nutrition Facts label, but Six Star 100% Creatine appears to be marked with a Supplement Facts label, which makes it ineligible for EBT. The rules have not changed since our article was published; EBT is valid on nutritional items, but not supplements. For official guidance on which items are eligible for EBT, you can use the USDA’s Ask the Expert tool (linked early in the article) to submit your question. We have updated our article to include information about Ask the Expert.