SNAP Food Types

SNAP benefits allow low-income families and individuals to get healthy meals and snacks. There are a couple of different categories of food that you will be able to purchase through SNAP. Let’s go through each one to give you a better idea.

Types of SNAP Foods

Staple Foods

These are the basic foods that make up most of the diet. These include:

  • Fruits and Vegetables — Potatoes, Tomatoes, Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Lettuce
  • Meat — Chicken, Fish, Beef, Tuna, Pork, Catfish, Lamb
  • Dairy items — Milk, Cheese, Butter, Sour Cream, Yogurt
  • Bread and cereal — Loaves of bread, Pasta, Tortillas, Pitas, Rice, Bagels
  • Other items such as snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Pretzels, Chips, Soda
  • Seeds and household plants that provide food for the family

Heated Foods

This includes any foods that are cooked or heated on-site by the store.

Some popular items under this category are :

  • Chicken — Sold cold or frozen then cooked or heated.
  • Pizza — Sold cold then baked or heated.
  • Seafood — Shrimp, Lobster, Crabs sold cold orlive then cooked, heated, or steamed

Cold Prepared Foods

This includes any food that is made or prepared and sold cold by the business owner on their premises.

  • Fruit Cups
  • Fresh Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Ice Cream — soft serve or scooped into cups, bowls, cones

It’s also important to know what you can not purchase with SNAP benefits. To avoid any confusion while you are shopping, be sure to know what you can and cannot purchase with your benefits.

Things You Cannot Buy With SNAP Benefits

Hot Foods

This includes any foods that are hot at the point of sale, including but not limited to:

  • Coffee and Tea
  • Soup
  • Baked / Fried Chicken
  • Pizza

Alcohol / Tobacco Products

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor
  • Cigarettes
  • Other tobacco products


Vitamins and other supplements cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits. If the item has a “Supplemental Facts” section, it is not eligible to buy with SNAP.

Live Animals

The only exception to this rule is shellfish or any fish that has been removed from water. Also any animal that was killed before being brought to the store. But you cannot buy live chickens or cows with SNAP benefits, for example.

Non-Food Items

  • Pet food — Dogs, Cats, Turtles, Snakes, Mice, and other pets
  • Cleaning supplies — Bleach, Windex, and other household cleaning items
  • Paper Products — Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins
  • Personal Hygiene — Hairspray, Mouthwash, Toothpaste, Lipstick

If you have questions about which items are available to buy through SNAP, contact the USDA today.