SNAP Challenge participants should spend their SNAP budget of $16 only on items eligible for purchase through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. As per USDA guidelines:
Households CAN use the SNAP benefits to buy:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as: breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish, and poultry; and dairy products.
- Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat (NOT recommended for the SNAP Challenge unless it’s a plant which is ready to harvest, such as fresh basil).
Households CANNOT use the SNAP benefits to buy:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco.
- Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods; soaps, paper products; and household supplies.
- Vitamins and medicines.
- Prepared foods at the point of purchase (rotisserie chicken, pre-made sandwich, etc.).
How can I stretch my SNAP budget?
The USDA recommends that SNAP recipients buy raw ingredients whenever possible, to maximize their benefits. However, you can plan your meals however you choose: buying food for the week, shopping multiple times during the week, buying in bulk where affordable, and buying produce frozen, canned, or fresh. SNAP benefits can be combined with coupons and store discount cards, but if you don’t already get a newspaper you may wish to consider whether you could afford to buy one for the coupons while living on a SNAP budget.
If I don’t have enough money for the week, can I go get a food box?
While many SNAP participants stretch their budget through the assistance of food co-operatives, food pantries, and food banks, we respectfully request that SNAP Challenge participants not do so. Our reason for this is simple: your need is temporary for one week and done for the purposes of the SNAP Challenge, but for thousands of individuals and families, those resources are a lifeline. Using a food box or other food donation during your SNAP Challenge makes it more difficult for a household truly in need to get assistance. We do, however, encourage you to seek out a food bank, food pantry, or other meal provider and volunteer during the week of the SNAP Challenge to gain first-hand perspective on the amazing work done by these providers and the process of getting assistance that those in need face.
Still need more ideas?
READ THE BLOG for some great ideas!