Can You Buy Pumpkins With Food Stamps?
This information is current as of April 15, 2022.
Halloween is a time filled with candy, costumes, and spooky family fun. So if you’re looking to carve pumpkins or decorate your home for the holiday, you might be asking, “Can you buy pumpkins with food stamps?”
The good news is that you can buy pumpkins from plenty of stores that accept food stamps. The only trick is that your pumpkin must be edible – so you can’t buy plastic pumpkins or decorative ones.
This article will cover how and where to buy pumpkins with EBT, what to do with old pumpkins once the holiday has passed, and other budget-friendly holiday items you can purchase.
How to Buy Pumpkins With Food Stamps
While we may use the term “food stamps” when paying with SNAP benefits, the payment method is through your state’s EBT card. This debit card holds your monthly benefits, which can be used to buy food for you and your family.
SNAP rules prevent recipients from buying non-food items with their EBT cards. So you’re limited to buying meats, dairy, vegetables, cereals, juices, and fruit. Luckily for the Halloween lovers out there, pumpkins are considered an edible SNAP-approved item to buy with your EBT card.
To buy pumpkins with food stamps, you should:
- Choose the right pumpkin
- Pay for it with your EBT card
- Use it for food or decoration
1. Choose the Right Pumpkin
Many people mistakenly believe pumpkins are vegetables, but they are, in fact, a fruit. Thousands of pumpkins are bought every year to make soups, pies, cakes, and other delicious dishes.
So, can you buy pumpkins with food stamps? If your Halloween pumpkin is edible and not decorative, you can bring it to the cashier and pay for it with food stamps.
To ensure your pumpkin counts as edible, try to pick one displayed in the produce section instead of the decorative or holiday area. Decorative pumpkins may be manmade or natural pumpkins with a design already drawn onto them. Of course, you can always ask a cashier or customer service agent to confirm that the pumpkin is classified as a food item.
Pumpkins are usually priced depending on their weight, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you choose a pumpkin out of a pile. In 2021, the average pumpkin in the U.S. will cost around $4.83. If you plan to carve your pumpkin, a larger pumpkin is usually better. However, any size will do if you plan to have it sit out as a decoration. Make sure your pumpkin is firm and doesn’t have any soft spots.
2. Pay for it With Your EBT Card
Once you’ve picked the perfect pumpkin, take it right to the checkout. Tell the cashier you’ll be paying with EBT, then swipe or insert your card into the card machine. After inputting your PIN, your purchase should be confirmed.
3. Use it for Food or Decoration
Did you want to buy decorative pumpkins? Not to worry – real, edible pumpkins are often the ones you see on peoples’ doorsteps as decorations. You can carve your pumpkin with your kids or draw on them using free school supplies like markers to make them more unique. For more ideas on budget Halloween decoration ideas, check out this article.
EBT-Retailers That Sell Pumpkins
Now that you know how to purchase your Halloween pumpkin, it’s time to find a place that sells them. Most major grocery stores and chains will start selling pumpkins in the early fall.
The following SNAP-accepting retailers will sell pumpkins by the beginning of October.
- Shop Rite
- Food Lion
- And more…
EBT Farmers Markets
SNAP works with different farmers’ markets and lists them monthly on their website.
We highly recommend checking out EBT-accepting farmers’ markets in your area before Halloween if you have the time. These markets will have plenty of pumpkins and other squash you can buy like food and use as decoration.
Other fruit and vegetables like honey nut squash, butternut squash, or even fig leaf gourds can be bought as foods but instead laid in a basket or centerpiece as a Halloween decoration.
Halloween Foods and Decorations With EBT
The SNAP program knows that some kids go crazy for Halloween, so they’ve put together a webpage with snacks and meals you can buy with EBT for the occasion.
Some familiar dishes you can make with EBT products include deviled eggs, Halloween cookies, pumpkin or apple pie, or candy apples.
What to Do With Old Halloween Pumpkins
You may be hesitant about buying a pumpkin that ends up rotting on your doorstep; however, pumpkins don’t have to be a waste of money.
If you plan to carve your pumpkin, you can use the “pumpkin guts” (inside a pumpkin) for many different things. Perhaps most famously, you can separate the seeds and roast them with a sprinkle of salt for some delicious homemade pumpkin seeds. You can also use these guts to make an infamous pumpkin pie.
Some less popular uses for the pumpkin guts include making a broth, pureeing them to flavor rice or risotto, juicing it, or even using some to make a face mask! Check out articles like this for more details on how to take advantage of pumpkin guts.
Keeping Halloween Budget-Friendly
Holidays are fun, but it’s easy to overspend during the excitement. However, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy Halloween to the fullest while still sticking to your budget and not overspending.
Costumes are one of the most exciting parts of Halloween – especially for children – but nowadays, it seems like a simple costume could cost more than a month’s worth of outfits. So instead, consider buying a costume from a second-hand store, thrift store, or another person online. You can also develop some creative do-it-yourself (DIY) costumes.
Keep reading below for some general tips on having fun and budget-friendly Halloween.
- Planning: Sometimes, it’s too easy to get carried away and spend money when you didn’t plan to. When you plan, it’s easier to stick to it and keep your spending in check. For example, before heading to the store, create a non-negotiable list and don’t buy anything that isn’t on it. Make sure to communicate this to your kids beforehand so they don’t try to add extra things to your cart!
- Checking your home first: You’d be surprised what kinds of decorations or forgotten stuff you have laying around that could serve a new purpose. So before going shopping for decorations, go through your storage to see if you have anything you can use again this year.
- Creating a budget: As with sound financial planning, setting a budget is critical. Only spend what you can afford to pay, or you may regret it the following month – remember – Christmas is only around the corner.
- Buying second-hand: Thrift stores put out tons of Halloween costumes and decorations starting early in September. Check out second-hand stores in your neighborhood or online stores like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for great deals on gently used Halloween items.
Halloween is spooky, but the price tags don’t have to scare you. You can use your food stamps to buy pumpkins to eat and use as decoration, so long as they’re edible. You can also save by using budget-friendly decoration options and by buying second-hand.
Using a few of these strategies, you can enjoy a pumpkin- and fun-filled Halloween with the whole family!
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
Are you looking for assistance with your wireless phone service? If you’re eligible for SNAP EBT benefits, you may also qualify for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.