Can You Buy Survival Food with EBT

Can You Buy Survival Food with EBT?

Can You Buy Survival Food with EBT?

After the initial scare of the pandemic, many people began stocking up on survival food. People began to consider survival with the potential non-access to grocery stores for a long period of time, but many worried about having the initial funds to stock up like others. Scenarios like this beg the question: “Can you buy survival food with EBT?”

There are many survival food items you can buy with your EBT card. Stores will accept EBT as a payment for staple foods such as fruits and vegetables, breads, and meat. You can also purchase snacks with this card. However, you won’t be able to buy things like alcohol or food that’s already hot.

 To learn more about what you can and cannot buy with an EBT card, as well as some of the best survival foods, keep reading!

The Types of Food You Can Buy with EBT

You can purchase most of the food you’ll need in a survival situation using your EBT card. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the types of food you can buy this way include:

  • Snack foods
  • Dairy products
  • Baking supplies
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread and cereals
  • Most canned goods
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Meats, including poultry and fish (including live shellfish)

When in doubt, check the price sticker on grocery store shelves. Most will specify whether or not an item is EBT-approved.

Some Items You Cannot Buy with EBT

While many food items are EBT-accessible, there are some limitations on what you can purchase. You will not be able to purchase alcohol or any tobacco products using your EBT card, nor any household products such as:

  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Cleaning supplies

In addition to these things, there are several other goods that are not approved for EBT purchase, either. These include:

  • Pet food
  • Health supplements, like vitamins and over-the-counter medications
  • Prepared foods, such as rotisserie chickens, cooked fish, and pre-made salads

Again, make sure to check the price sticker on the shelf or ask an employee if you need help figuring out what is and isn’t EBT-accessible.

Can You Buy Survival Food With EBT

Best Survival Foods You Can Buy with EBT

While you should buy everything you can when there’s a chance you won’t have access to the grocery store for long periods of time, there are a few items that have a significantly longer shelf life and nutritional value than others. Here are some of the best survival foods you can purchase with your EBT card.

Canned Tuna & Salmon

Canned tuna and salmon both have very long shelf lives, and will still keep for three to four days in the refrigerator once opened. They’re rich in protein and healthy fats, such as the Omega 3s that fish is famous for.

Energy Bars

Energy and protein bars are very convenient and can be kept anywhere, whether it’s in the pantry, in the car, or in your backpack. They’re available in a variety of flavors, but some have more nutritional value than others. Make sure to look for a brand with a high calorie content, but plenty of protein and other essential nutrients.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is another food with a very long shelf life. It has a good amount of protein, as well as several essential vitamins and minerals like iron. It’s high in calories and will keep you full for a long time, and it’s easy to create a variety of dishes with!

Dried Beans

Dried beans come in much larger quantities than canned beans, so buying them instead gives you a better bang for your buck. Most kinds of beans are high in protein, as well as several other vitamins and nutrients.

What Exactly is EBT?

Electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, is a system available throughout all 50 states, plus Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; The Virgin Islands; and Guam, that allows participants in the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) to pay for food through federal assistance. SNAP EBT cards can be used to purchase necessary food items, with a pre-paid balance loaded onto the card each month.

How Do You Apply for EBT?

You can apply for SNAP EBT benefits through your local or state government SNAP program. Each state has a different application process, so you must contact your local agency directly to begin the application process. Some states will allow people to apply online, while others require a paper application.

In order to qualify for SNAP benefits, you must meet certain resource and income requirements, which are updated annually. After you apply for benefits, you’ll typically need to complete an eligibility interview either over the phone or in person, and provide proof of the information you provided on your application.

What Are the Current EBT Requirements?

According to the USDA Food & Nutrition Service, as of January 1, 2021, you must have $2,250 in countable resources or less, or $3,500 or less if one member of the household is over 60 or disabled. These requirements will stay in place until September 30, 2021. Certain resources are not included when determining your eligibility, including:

  • Your home
  • Retirement and pension plans
  • Any supplemental security income (SSI)
  • Any temporary assistance for needy families (TANF or welfare) income

Vehicles are typically counted as resources, unless they meet any of the following criteria:

  • They serve as your home
  • You would get less than $1,500 for selling it
  • They transport your household’s gas or water supply
  • They transport a physically disabled household member
  • They’re used for income-producing purposes (such as a taxi)
  • They produce an annual income consistent to their fair market value
  • They’re needed to travel long distances for work (excluding daily commutes)

If your vehicle does not meet any of these criteria, any fair market value over $4,650 will count as a resource.

Income limits vary based on your household size, and gross and net income are both taken into consideration. If your SNAP application is approved, your monthly EBT allowance will also depend on your household size.


EBT cards will allow you to purchase a variety of survival foods, including non-perishable goods, which have a very long shelf life and can be stored in the pantry for months, if not years. Make sure to stock up on everything you can each month, but make sure it’ll keep for a while!