Does Sprouts Farmers Market accept EBT/Food Stamps/WIC? Answered

Does Sprouts accept EBT cards? Yes, Sprouts takes EBT cards. Read on to find out more about it and WIC as well…

Sprouts Farmers Market stores are big, bright, colorful markets filled with all kinds of organic and conventional produce, as well as grains, fresh meats, fish, and more. In Sprouts market you’ll also find a wide selection of prepared foods, and you can even take advantage of Sprouts catering service to feed your guests at your next party or event.

Sprouts Farmers Market was founded by a family named Boney in Chandler, Ariz., in 2002. The founders were descendants of Henry Boney, who operated a produce stand in San Diego, Calif., beginning in 1943. Today there are over 250 Sprouts Farmers Markets operating in 13 states. Step into one of these stores or visit the Sprouts website and you’ll immediately pick up on a theme of healthy eating and cost saving. In fact the Sprouts slogan is “It’s Healthy Living for Less.”

SNAP, WIC, and EBT

SNAP, WIC and EBT cards are all aspects of a general system of federally funded benefits for people in need. This general system is known by many names; Public Assistance, Public Aid, and Welfare. Though many people believe that “Welfare” is a single specific program it is actually a system featuring many different components which provide several types of benefits; financial support, health care benefits, housing assistance, and food for eligible people. Though federally funded, each state administers benefits individually and may have slightly different criteria for qualification.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) are two programs which supply nutritional benefits.

What Is SNAP?

SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is available for qualifying low-income individuals. SNAP benefits are transferred to the recipient’s EBT Card. The EBT Card (electronic benefits card) can be used at approved food retailers (most grocery stores) just like a normal debit card. SNAP has specific rules regarding eligible and prohibited purchases. While most groceries can be bought with SNAP benefits, certain items like alcohol, cigarettes, cleaning supplies, and more, can’t be purchased. For a complete list of what’s eligible for purchase with SNAP, see our article What Can You Buy with Food Stamps/EBT? Listed. Plus What You Can’t.

What Is WIC?

WIC is also a nutritional aid program but differs from SNAP in some important ways. WIC is considered a short term program for nutritional support available for new mothers.

Specifically, WIC is for women who are:

  • Pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Post-partum but not breastfeeding up to six months after giving birth

And to children who are:

  • Infants up to 1 year old
  • Up to five years old and deemed nutritionally at risk due to medical or dietary conditions (As determined through a medical examination)

WIC provides specific dollar amounts which can be used to purchase very specific types of nutritious foods such as milk, baby food and formula and fortified breads. Foods must be purchased in specific quantities and often only certain brands and certain SKUs within a brand are eligible. For details about other grocery stores that accept WIC, see our article Grocery Stores That Accept WIC: the List.

Are There Any Other Federal Nutrition Programs?

Yes. In addition to the basic WIC program, Congress established in 1992 an additional program known as the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to help provide fresh unprocessed locally grown produce to WIC members. Not only does this benefit the program recipients by providing them with healthy fruits and vegetables in season, but the plan benefits the growers by raising the profile of farmers’ markets and increasing sales. In addition to the WIC FMNP there is a similar federal program specifically for seniors, the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP.)

How EBT Cards Work

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards are simply electronic magnetically encoded cards, similar to debit cards, through which SNAP and standard WIC benefits are provided. People applying for assistance will be issued a card when deemed eligible and will be instructed to create a PIN number (which the card holder can change at any time.)

Money is loaded onto the cards each month by the agency providing benefits. Each state is different with regard to which day of the month the card is re-loaded. When making a purchase the user swipes the card at the point of purchase and enters their PIN to buy eligible items. There is no cash back feature with the SNAP or WIC cards and ineligible items will not be debited to the card. EBT cards have replaced the old paper food stamps and WIC vouchers of the past, making it easier for both the shopper and the retailer to efficiently complete transactions.

EBT cards are also used to provide cash benefits through other federal programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and some refugee services. The cards used for these programs function as pre-loaded debit/ATM cards. Users can make purchases of anything one can buy with a debit card and get cash back at the store or make a cash withdrawal from an ATM. For this reason you may sometimes see people using EBT cards for purchases not on the “eligible” lists for the nutritional programs.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts Farmers Market prides itself on a commitment to quality food at low prices. Further, the chain positions itself as a socially responsible retailer. Through its Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation the chain claims to “contribute even more to the health of our communities through meaningful partnerships with local non-profit organizations.” Given these claims of dedication to health and nutrition and social responsibility it seems natural that Sprouts would welcome shoppers relying on subsidized nutritional programs.

Does Sprouts accept EBT cards? Yes. All Sprouts Farmers Markets accept EBT cards that hold SNAP benefits. Sprouts doesn’t participate in WIC or the WIC FMNP and Seniors FMNP programs.

A further search revealed this from Sprouts Farmers Market Facebook post from August 6, 2015:

“Currently we do not accept WIC at our stores. We have looked into this in the past; however this program is normally only good towards “conventional” food items that Sprouts does not carry in our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope that you will continue to allow us to serve you with your other needs.”

A repeat call to Sprouts customer service line confirmed that this is still true, and that Sprouts also does not participate in the FMNP programs.

In Summary

Sprouts is a popular grocery store chain for buying fresh produce in farmer’s market style and at affordable prices. Sprouts currently accepts EBT cards loaded with SNAP benefits for eligible purchases, which include most cold, unprepared food items, but don’t include things like alcohol and cigarettes. Sprouts is not currently able to accept WIC benefits, TANF benefits, or any other welfare benefits. Looking for ways to save on groceries at Sprouts? See our article on Sprouts’ price match policy.

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3 comments

  • I tried to buy apples and pears at Sprouts today. 16 October 2017. They were NOT organic. They were .98 cents a pound vs. $2.99 at Kroger. Terrible policy for Sprouts.

  • WIC limits what you can buy to only approved brands and products, usually not organic. It has been my experience that WIC choices are low quality and something I would rather not feed my child. Until they improve, which looks like never, I would stay away from WIC unless you have no other alternative. That said, if you qualify for WIC, you probably can qualify for SNAP instead.