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Can you pay for meal kits using EBT SNAP benefits?

The government-run Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income households stay healthy by helping to pay for certain foods. Shoppers use an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to pay for grocery items like fresh vegetables and baby food -- but did you know it could also be put toward meal kit purchases? 

Most home delivery services don't accept EBT SNAP benefits for subscription fees, but meal kits like Home Chef have a workaround for low-income households looking for quick, easy, and -- most importantly -- nutritious meals. 

SNAP benefits can be used for a number of healthy foods, but there are some limitations. Eligibility requirements can be confusing, so here's the main thing to keep in mind: Grocery items like breads, cereals, and dairy products are covered by SNAP benefits; non-food items, alcoholic beverages, and foods that are hot at the point of sale are not. 

Meal kit delivery services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and others don't currently allow for EBT payments, but dive a bit deeper and you'll see there are a few exceptions to the rule. Here's everything you need to know about paying for meal kits and meal delivery services using SNAP benefits.

Can you pay for meal kits using SNAP benefits?

Technically, home delivery services like meal kits are not covered by SNAP benefits. But that doesn't mean that you're totally out of luck.

There is currently no way to pay for food delivery by companies like Daily Harvest or Purple Carrot using EBT, despite the fact that you're frequently paying for individual ingredients, the same as you would at the grocery store.

That doesn't mean you're entirely out of options when it comes to paying for meal kits with EBT funds. There are a few notable exceptions, including Home Chef kits that you can find in certain stores.

As a part of the Kroger family, Home Chef sells its meal kits at a number of participating stores in addition to offering meal delivery services. Home Chef meal kits found in Kroger and Kroger-owned stores like Ralph's can, in fact, be paid for using SNAP benefits. Customers may be giving up the benefit of home delivery, but the convenience of picking up pre-portioned or premade meals can be a gamechanger for busy families

What meal delivery options do SNAP recipients have?

So what if you don't live near a Kroger location, but still want access to convenient meal delivery services that work with SNAP benefits? Thankfully, there are few other things you can look into. One of them is Top Box, a meal delivery service that actually does currently accept EBT payments.

Since 2012, the community-driven Top Box has worked to bridge the gap between a community in need and healthy, affordable food items. This non-profit has its roots in Chicago, but today you can find additional locations in Rockford (IL), New Orleans, and Baton Rouge -- with another opening soon in Atlanta, Georgia.

Top Box is more like an online marketplace than a traditional meal kit subscription. Instead of building a meal plan ahead of time, customers can browse individual ingredients and products like fresh produce and healthy proteins or shop by provider. Depending on your location, you can find local providers that offer readily made meal kits.

The best part about Top Box is the sense of community it reinforces. This nonprofit is made up of local community members and groups that care about giving back to their neighbors first and foremost, making this a wonderful resource for any local SNAP participants who weren't previously aware of Top Box.

Are there meal delivery services that take online EBT payments?

Depending on your state, you may have other options for SNAP-eligible meal delivery services as well. In New York, SNAP Express meal kits offer a sort of middle-ground option for anyone interested in affordable meal kits. 

This free service lets you choose from a selection of meal kits developed by certified nutritionists. Don't expect the kind of variety and flexibility that you'd find with other big name meal delivery services -- although we did browse a list of different meal kits that was impressive for something that doesn't require a subscription. We found price estimates ranging from just over $60 (four recipes and 26 servings total) to nearly $210 (12 recipes and 67 servings total).

While this does not come with home delivery, customers can pick up their orders from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market locations. Online EBT payments are allowed.

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