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Merchant Question: "Can I sell energy drinks?"

Question: “Can I sell energy drinks?” -Ranny Gammo, Peck Market

Answer: The simple answer to this question is yes, you can sell energy drinks. However, when it comes to selling energy drinks to a SNAP cardholder, there are some specific rules:

  • Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label ARE eligible to purchase with SNAP benefits
  • Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label ARE NOT eligible to purchase with SNAP benefits

While some store owners assume they can pretty much sell any food or beverage to a customer who is using SNAP to pay for the items, that is actually not true.  There are a number of rules that apply to SNAP retailers, not just about what they can and can not sell in a SNAP transaction, but also what they have to sell in their store in order to be eligible to accept SNAP payments.

What items are NOT eligible to purchase with SNAP benefits?

Households that receive SNAP benefits can NOT use them to purchase:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as:
    • pet foods
    • soaps, paper products
    • household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods or any food sold to be consumed on the premises
  • Holiday gift baskets in which the value of non-food items exceeds 50% of the total price
  • Live animals
  • Grooming items, cosmetics

What items ARE eligible to purchase with SNAP benefits?

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish, and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds, plants that produce food for the household to eat
  • Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers
  • Ice cream
  • Seafood and steak
  • Bakery cakes
  • Pumpkins

What happens if you sell ineligible items in a SNAP transaction?

If you sell the wrong items to a customer paying with SNAP benefits, you are committing SNAP fraud and could not only be disqualified as a SNAP retailer, but also be fined.

in goEBT News, Consumer Trends, Building Your Business, SNAP Tips