Applying for food stamps can feel complicated enough. This is especially true when you don’t know exactly how it works. For instance, where can you use your food stamps?
Does Trader Joe’s accept EBT?
Keep reading to find out!
Trader Joe’s is named after its founder, Joe Coulombe. He developed the idea while on vacation in the Caribbean. He noticed that Americans were traveling more and were acquiring tastes that American supermarkets at the time could not do justice. Coulombe wanted to provide a unique experience and have different offerings compared to the local supermarket. Ever since 1967, Trader Joe’s has done exactly that.
Their buyers quite literally travel the world searching for products they believe will serve their customers sufficiently enough. Every product is submitted to a tasting panel process, in which every aspect of quality is investigated. If a product is assessed as an outstanding value, it becomes an item you will find at Trader Joe’s.
Alongside finding items that won’t be at your typical supermarket, you will find prices that don’t either! Trader Joe’s believes every customer should have access to the best prices on the best products. They keep costs low by buying direct from their suppliers when possible, buy in volume, and more. But do they accept EBT as a form of payment? First, let’s go over exactly what EBT is.
How Do You Apply For EBT?
SNAP is the short term for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is the program in which EBT is a part of.
To get SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state in which you currently reside in. There are certain requirements that must be met, including resource and income limits which are updated annually.
Once you submit your application for benefits, your state agency or local SNAP office will send you a notice stating if you are or are not eligible for benefits. This usually takes place within 30 days.
During the 30 days, you must complete an interview along with providing proof (verification) of the information in which you have given. The interview is usually held over the telephone but can be in-person. If you are eligible, you will receive benefits!
Your funds will be dealt with on your issued EBT card. Benefits are automatically loaded into the account each month.
EBT is short for Electronic Benefit Transfer. This form of assistance places your funds on a card similar to a debit or credit card. This card has a magnetic strip and this is how your funds are accessed. These transactions are processed in a way that is similar to Personal Identification Number debit card transactions. This is because you will also have to have a PIN that you enter when prompted. At establishments in which you can use your EBT card, you will simply swipe it at checkout.
This form of payment for welfare recipients has replaced the Food Stamp Program. You may be familiar with food stamps. This program issued paper coupons to welfare recipients. EBT made the process of using government assistance easier and more discreet for users.
There are certain items that can be purchased with your EBT and other items that cannot be. Similarly, there are certain establishments in which you can use your EBT and others that do not accept EBT.
All eligible items will be taken care of and the amount of money spent will be removed from your funds. If you are purchasing any noneligible items, you will have to pay the remaining balance separately.
It is important to be aware of the items you can and cannot purchase. EBT is meant strictly for food. In specific, food that is considered to be “Staple Food” meaning, you can use it to make a meal at home.
Some eligible items are as follows:
- Canned Goods
Those are just a few examples of eligible items.
Some noneligible items are as follows:
- Beer, wine, liquor, or tobacco products
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
- Foods that are hot or previously prepared
- Hygiene products
Those are just a few examples of non-eligible items.
Who Accepts EBT?
Grocery stores are not required to accept EBT! In order for a store to accept benefits, the store must be approved. They must be authorized by the USDA to accept government assistance funds.
The store must meet certain criteria in order to get authorized. Specifically, they have to meet two. To qualify for the program, the store must offer products in at least two of the following categories: Meat, fish and poultry, dairy products, cereals, bread and grains, or fruits and vegetables. These are considered to be staple foods. Foods in which you can use to create a meal at home. For example, hot or previously prepared food does not count.
A different criteria you could meet would be to receive 50% or more of your revenue from food sales. If you meet the specific criteria, you will receive a license in order to accept EBT. The license must be renewed every 5 years.
Once a store has been authorized, all employees of the grocery store must be trained within 30 days, on how benefits work. All employees at Trader Joe’s must be trained to process EBT payments because they happily accept it!
You can find a list of other establishments on the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Who Doesn’t Accepts EBT?
Not all establishments accept EBT. In order for a company to accept EBT, they must meet the criteria previously mentioned. Stores that do not accept this form of payment usually do so because they are unable to qualify. They do not meet any of the criteria and therefore cannot receive a license.
For instance, sometimes you will see a gas station that has a sign stating they can accept EBT. This is typically due to the fact that their sales percentage of staple foods is 50% of their revenue. It is important to remember though that you can only purchase food with your EBT card. The funds on your card will not cover the cost of your gas, only eligible food items.
In 1967 Joe Coulombe wanted to provide a unique experience and have different offerings compared to the local supermarket. Ever since the first store opened, Trader Joe’s has done exactly that.
Trader Joe’s will happily accept EBT on all eligible items. You will be responsible for covering any remaining balance at checkout.