CalFresh EBT Card

What can I buy with CalFresh EBT card?

If you have just been approved for Food Stamps and issued a SNAP EBT Card, you are probably wondering what you can buy with CalFresh EBT card. We can answer that question for you.

In this post, we will provide the list of eligible food stamps items, including what you can and cannot buy with your California SNAP EBT Card.

First, we will provide a list of places you can use your CalFresh Card

Also, we will explain how you can use your CalFresh EBT card to shop online for groceries for delivery.

Next, we will provide the list of food items you can purchase with your EBT card.

Lastly, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about foods you can and cannot buy with CalFresh EBT.

This post will cover:

  • What stores accept CalFresh EBT cards online?
  • What you can buy with CalFresh EBT card
  • CalFresh Eligible Food Items FAQs

What stores accept CalFresh EBT cards online?

You can use your CalFresh EBT card to make purchases online at Albertsons, Amazon, Safeway, Vons, and Walmart.

Additionally, Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons currently accept EBT online when
choosing pickup at participating Drive Up and Go stores.

To find out more about how to purchase food online with your EBT card, see our post on How to buy groceries with CA EBT Online.

What you can buy with CalFresh EBT card

CalFresh benefits can be used to purchase any food EXCEPT heated foods.

See below for the complete list of foods you are allowed to buy.

Additionally, we have listed below foods that you CANNOT buy with your CalFresh EBT card.

Restaurant Meals Program

If there is anyone in your home who is over 60, has a disability, or if you are homeless, you may be able to use your CalFresh at participating restaurants as a part of the Restaurant Meals Program.

For more on Restaurants that accept CalFresh, see our post on 280+ Restaurants that Take EBT in California.

Here’s what you can buy with CalFresh EBT:

  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Meat, poultry, and fish;
  • Dairy products;
  • Breads and cereals;
  • Other foods such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and
  • Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.

You CANNOT use CalFresh benefits to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements. If an item has a Supplement Facts label, it is considered a supplement and is not eligible for SNAP purchase.
  • Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
  • Prepared Foods fit for immediate consumption
  • Hot foods
  • Any nonfood items such as:
    – Pet foods
    – Cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies.
    – Hygiene items, cosmetics

CalFresh Eligible Food Items FAQs

We usually get questions from our readers about specific food items so we have provided answers to the most frequently asked items.

Can I order groceries online and have my items delivered?

If you are a CalFresh EBT Cardholder in California, you can shop online with your SNAP EBT Card for grocery delivery and pick-up at Walmart, Amazon and other grocery stores through Instacart.

Here’s the full list of participating grocery stores:

  • ALDI
  • Amazon
  • Food 4 Less
  • FoodMaxx
  • Lucky Supermarkets
  • Rancho San Miguel Markets
  • Save Mart Supermarkets
  • Walmart

Do farmers’ markets accept CalFresh?

Yes! Many California farmer’s markets accept CalFresh benefits.

Additionally, some farmer’s markets in California offer Market Match, a program that doubles your CalFresh spending on fruits and vegetables.

Currently, Market Match offered at 130 farmers’ markets across the state of California.

At participating markets, CalFresh shoppers can double their food dollars, receiving additional market coins for free to spend on fruits and vegetables.

For example, if you spend $10 in CalFresh benefits, you will get $20 total to spend on healthy food at the farmer’s market.

Also, many farmers’ markets accept other benefits such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.

Can you buy energy drinks with CalFresh?

Energy drinks that have a nutrition label are eligible foods you can buy with your CalFresh benefits.

However, energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible under food stamps rules.

Can you buy cold rotisserie chicken with EBT?

Unfortunately, No. You cannot use CalFresh to buy rotisserie chicken the program rules prohibit spending on hot foods.

Can I buy deli food with CalFresh EBT?

You are not allowed to use CalFresh to buy food you can eat at the premises or hot food in general.

You are only allowed to buy food you are taking home to prepare.

Therefore, when it comes to Deli foods, you cannot buy hot food from the deli or prepared foods like mac n cheese, chicken or sandwiches, stuff from the salad bar.

However, you can buy deli meats and cheeses and cold uncooked items from the deli with your CalFresh EBT card as long as you are going to take them home to prepare.

Furthermore, some delis that take CalFresh will display items that are eligible.

Can you buy a birthday or Ice Cream cake with CalFresh EBT?

Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase with CalFresh benefits as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the cake.

Can you buy Vitamins, Supplements, and Power Bars with CalFresh?

The eligibility of vitamins and supplements, power bars, energy drinks, and other branded products must meet the following guidelines:

  • Items that carry a nutrition facts label are eligible foods
  • Items that carry a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore NOT eligible

Can you buy Pet Food with CalFresh EBT?

No, you cannot use your CalFresh EBT benefits to buy pet food.

This is directly from the USDA Website.

If you attempt to use your CalFresh card to buy pet or dog food, you will be violating the law – which could land you in jail.

What you can buy with CalFresh EBT card Summary

Here’s the bottom line:

CalFresh benefits can be used to purchase any food EXCEPT heated foods.

Furthermore, You CANNOT use CalFresh benefits to buy non-food items, including Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco.

CalFresh recipients over age 60, or those who have a disability, or homeless, may be able to use your CalFresh at participating restaurants as a part of the Restaurant Meals Program.

Questions?

We hope this post on what you can buy with CalFresh EBT card was helpful.

If you have further questions about the Public Charge Rule, CalFresh, or California EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out our other articles about CalFresh and CalFresh EBT, including:
Free Admission with California EBT (2021 Guide)
Restaurants that Take CalFresh in California
California P-EBT Extension for 2020/2021
How much will I get in CalFresh in 2021?
January Extra Food Stamps Schedule
February Extra Food Stamps Schedule

Kwame Kuadey

Kwame Kuadey writes about personal finance and the social safety net. His career started in banking but he caught the entrepreneurial bug and has spent the last decade building successful businesses, including an Inc. 500 Company. Kwame believes everyone has the power to improve their quality of life by seeking knowledge and taking action. In 2012, Kwame founded Empower Media to help low-income households improve their financial situation. His expertise is in topics relevant to low-income households, including government benefits and assistance, banking products, access to credit, plus tools & resources to help reduce income volatility and build wealth. Kwame has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Washington Post, ABC, and NPR.

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