SNAP Recipients Can Use Their Benefits to Buy Seeds and Plants at Many Retailers

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  • SNAP benefits help many American households put food on the table.
  • In addition to buying food items at the grocery store, you can use your benefits at participating retailers to purchase seeds and plants to grow your own food.

Not only can you buy food with SNAP benefits, but you can grow it, too.

It's common to see a lot of seeds and plants for sale at local stores this time of year. If you purchase your own seeds or plants, you could start a garden to grow your own food. SNAP recipients may want to consider doing this because the program allows them to use their benefits to purchase seeds and plants at many retailers.

The United States has a government program that helps individuals and families in need cover the cost of food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supports more than 42 million people annually. Programs like this reduce the number of people that go hungry.

You can use SNAP benefits to buy many foods and non-alcoholic drink items. Many recipients use their benefits to buy fruits and vegetables, cereal, bread, meat, eggs, and milk. But did you know that you can use your benefits to buy seeds and plants? Here are the details.

SNAP covers the purchase of seeds and plants

If you're a SNAP recipient, you can use your benefits to purchase seeds as long as you buy them from a retailer that accepts SNAP benefits.

Seeds, plants, and trees must be intended for consumption. Some examples of acceptable options include cucumber seeds, tomato plants, asparagus roots, strawberry bushes, and apple trees. Items are covered if you can consume them as food (even herbs for cooking).

Seeds that are intended for ornamental purposes are not covered. So, you can't buy flowers or plants meant to improve your landscaping.

It's also important to know that you can't use SNAP benefits to purchase gardening supplies like soil and fertilizer. These items would be an extra expense to consider if you're planning a garden, and that could impact your bank account.

Should you start a home garden?

If you are interested in gardening and want to stretch your benefits further, planting some herbs or fruits and vegetables may be a good option.

Are you new to gardening and don't know where to start? Don't feel intimidated or let your lack of knowledge stop you from considering this option. Check to see if your community has any gardening groups or classes you can attend.

Don't ignore farmers' markets

If gardening isn't for you, that's okay. That doesn't mean you can't get freshly grown vegetables and fruit from local farms. Many farmers' markets now also accept SNAP benefits, so you may want to see if the markets in your area do.

You may get more value out of your benefits, too. More than 25 states are part of the "Double Up Food Bucks" program, allowing SNAP recipients to get double the value from their benefits. That means double the fruits and vegetables.

Tips for stretching your SNAP benefits further

Are you overwhelmed by the prices you see at the grocery store? Food costs are on the rise, making it harder to purchase all the groceries you usually buy with the same amount of money.

These tips may help you make your SNAP benefits go further:

  • Go in with a plan. It's an excellent idea to have a shopping list ready before you walk into the store. You can ensure you get everything you need and may feel less tempted to buy items that aren't as important.
  • Review sales fliers. If you shop for items that are on sale, you may be able to spend less. It's easy to overspend when you ignore sales and fill your cart without pre-planning.
  • Don't ignore store-brand products. You don't have to buy brand-name items. In many cases, purchasing store-brand products can save you a lot of money and are often very similar to brand-name items.

If you're looking for ways to improve your finances, you're not alone. For more tips and guidance, review these personal finance resources.

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