I have a lot of discussions on food stamps in the Monroe on a Budget archives, ranging from as eligibility criteria in Michigan to how to leverage coupons and rebates to make the most of food stamp benefits.

Given how Internet searches work, then, I’m not surprised to see this query land on my blog today:

can i buy a easter basket with food stamps at walmart

Yes and no, depending on what exactly is that “Easter basket” purchase.

Discussion points:

Where can you use food stamps?

You can use food stamps to purchase eligible food products at any store that participates in the SNAP/EBT network.

Which stores are those? If you live in Monroe County, Mich., I’ve done that research for you and the information is included in my grocery database.

Wal-Mart in Frenchtown Township is one of those stores.

If you live elsewhere, use the U.S. Department of Agriculture Snap Retailer Locator to find which stores in your area accept food stamps.

What is an allowed purchase?

The allowable foods under food stamps have been the topic of much discussion. I linked up the background and research in a recent column. The USDA also has a quick FAQ on “junk food.”

But to answer this specific question, both year-round and seasonal candy is allowed. This includes jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. You also can use the food stamp benefits to purchase cake mix to make your own cupcakes, and eggs that can be made into hardboiled eggs.

What’s not allowed?

In regards to an Easter basket that you assemble yourself, the non-edible purchases have to be made through other funds. This includes the Easter grass, stickers, pencils, dolls or stuffed animals.

Don’t panic! Go to the dollar stores and you’ll find very budget-friendly baskets and trinkets. Resale shops also sometimes have baskets.

And there’s nothing wrong with re-using last year’s basket or substitutions such as serving bowls, paper bowls, etc.

What about a pre-made basket?

This gets tricky. Here’s what the USDA says about gift baskets:

Gift baskets that contain both food and non-food items, are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50 percent of the purchase price.  To read our most recent notice about Gift Baskets, click here

And if you click on that link, here’s the detailed explanation:

Holiday gift baskets for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mothers Day, Thanksgiving, Holiday stockings, and seasonal items like holiday tins are NOT eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the nonfood part of the item clearly accounts for more than 50% of the purchase price.

For Example: A stuffed holiday bear sold with a small package of chocolate for $14.99 would not be eligible for SNAP purchase, but
A gift basket consisting primarily of meats and cheeses or snack foods, and including a small toy –  where the cost of the food items clearly accounts for more than 50% of the purchase price of the item — would be eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Personally, I wouldn’t make this choice as most premade baskets are expensive for the quality and quantity of candy and trinkets you get. Spend your food stamp funds on the edible items, limit the toys and gifts to one cute item per child, and re-use last year’s baskets.

If you have a lot of children or grandchildren to bless with a basket, and need to do that in a budget-friendly way, go read how my grandma handled that situation.


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