Can You Buy Beef Jerky With EBT?

Beef jerky is a popular high-protein snack that’s shelf-stable, portable and easy to eat on-the-go. But can you purchase this tasty meaty snack with EBT or food stamps? Here’s what you need to know about buying beef jerky with government food assistance benefits.

What is EBT?

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. It is the system used by state governments to issue food assistance funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to eligible low-income individuals and families.

The EBT card, also known as the SNAP card, can be used like a debit card to purchase SNAP-eligible foods at participating grocery stores and retailers. Funds are deposited into the EBT account monthly.

SNAP Eligible Foods

SNAP benefits are intended to help supplement a household’s grocery budget so they can purchase healthy foods Not all items in a grocery store are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Generally, SNAP covers foods for home consumption like breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, and seeds and plants to grow food.

However, there are many restrictions on what can be purchased with SNAP:

  • No prepared hot foods or restaurant meals
  • No alcoholic beverages
  • No vitamins, medicines, or supplements
  • No live animals (except shellfish and fish removed from water)
  • No nonfood items like pet food, household supplies, hygiene items, or cosmetics

Is Beef Jerky Eligible for SNAP Purchase?

Beef jerky would be considered a SNAP-eligible food item. Jerky is shelf-stable, ready-to-eat, and nutritious making it similar to other eligible meat products.

However, there are some caveats to purchasing beef jerky with EBT:

  • It must be unprepared beef jerky in original manufacturer’s packaging. No homemade or freshly sliced jerky.

  • No flavored or seasoned jerky. It must be plain with no marinades, spices, or flavorings added.

  • The ingredients must be 100% beef with no other meats blended.

  • No “trail mixes” or combo packs with jerky mixed with nuts, fruits, or other non-SNAP approved items.

These restrictions aim to ensure SNAP benefits are used to buy staple food items, not premade meals or convenience snacks. So plain beef jerky strips or slices without any additional ingredients added would be SNAP-eligible.

Are There Any Other Jerky Restrictions?

In addition to the flavor and ingredient restrictions, there are also some rules around beef jerky packaging and pricing that affect eligibility for SNAP purchase:

  • It cannot be from the prepackaged convenience meals section. Jerky must come from the regular meat section.

  • Package sizes may be limited to normal household amounts. Giant bulk packs are generally prohibited.

  • No specialty brands or gourmet jerky with inflated pricing. Must adhere to standard costs.

Again, these rules prevent SNAP benefits from being used on luxury or specialty items. Plain, reasonably priced beef jerky in normal quantities would meet requirements.

Tips for Purchasing Beef Jerky With SNAP/EBT

If you want to utilize your SNAP benefits to purchase beef jerky, here are some tips:

  • Stick to plain, unseasoned beef jerky with no extra ingredients or flavors added

  • Avoid premade jerky trail mixes or party packs with a variety of items

  • Buy normal sized packages, not bulk family packs or single serving bags

  • Scan the ingredients list and nutrition label to check for compliance

  • Have the cashier ring it up normally, not as a premade meal

  • Be prepared to surrender any noncompliant jerky to avoid problems at checkout

Beef jerky can be purchased using SNAP/EBT benefits as long as it meets certain requirements around ingredients, preparation, packaging and pricing. Plain, unseasoned beef jerky in normal quantities from the meat section should ring up on EBT without issues. However, seasoned jerky or specialty packages may get denied at checkout if deemed ineligible. Following the guidelines will help ensure you can successfully use your food stamps to enjoy this tasty and filling meaty snack!



Can you buy rotisserie chicken with EBT in Texas?

SNAP recipients can now use their benefits for hot foods and ready-to-eat foods, such as rotisserie chicken or grocery store deli foods, at retailers that accept SNAP anywhere in the state.

Can you buy dog food with food stamps in Texas?

You can’t use SNAP to buy alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, hot food or any food sold to eat in the store. You also can’t use SNAP to buy items that are not food, such as soap, paper products, medicines, vitamins, supplies for the home, grooming items, pet food and cosmetics.

Why are tea bags not covered by EBT?

Tea, too, is limited to packaged and unbrewed because the USDA doesn’t allow SNAP funds to be used to buy any hot beverages.

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