Unfortunately, not everyone can afford three nutritious meals per day. That’s true for vulnerable groups like low-income families, the elderly, the unemployed, and people with disabilities.
One such program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that aims to reduce hunger in the US by supplementing the food budget of the poor so that they can afford the healthy, nutritious foods they need to get ahead in life.
The US department of labor also distributes unemployment benefits to unemployed workers through the USBank ReliaCard. See our related article on what time money goes on ReliaCard.
SNAP runs at the state level for smooth administration and uses Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to distribute government aid to the needy. WIC is also part of SNAP geared towards providing healthcare and nutritional benefits to Women, Infants, and Children under the age of five.
The catch is, EBT and WIC benefits cannot just be used to buy everything, anywhere. SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase SNAP-eligible items at approved retailers. That’s why EBT and WIC recipients want to know whether grocery stores like Vons take EBT and WIC to avoid the embarrassment of having to return things.
Owned by Albertsons, Vons has 198 grocery stores in two states: 189 in California and 9 in Nevada. In addition, the supermarket chain operates about 20 fuel stations and owns a series of 118 pharmacies.
Top services offered at Vons stores include groceries, bakery products, deli food counters, make key copies, floral department, Coinstar machines near me, US Bank branches, sells gift cards, check cashing services, and more. Vons is also among the best places to buy Western Union and MoneyGram money orders.
You can accomplish many tasks in a single errand if there’s a store in your area. And with jam-packed schedules in our modern lives, everyone wants to cut unnecessary trips and save time and money on gas.
Though you can’t cash third-party or personal checks at Vons, you can cash payroll and government-issued checks, access ATMs that dispense $10, get cash back on checks and debit card purchases, buy coffee with EBT at Starbucks Cafes inside, and shop for the cheapest foods to buy on a budget.
Can such convenience be enjoyed by SNAP EBT and WIC recipients? It leads us to the big question: Does Vons accept EBT and WIC?
Short Answer: All the Vons stores in California and Nevada accept both EBT and WIC benefits. You can use your WIC and EBT card to purchase SNAP-approved items like discount meat, fruits & vegetables, cereal, bread, bakery items, filtered water, and any other staple foods that you can carry and prepare at home. Snack food, poke bowl, valentine’s candy, and soft drinks that you can eat on the go without further preparation are also eligible.
That said, you can’t use EBT or WIC funds to buy SNAP-prohibited items, like hot, ready-to-eat meals at Vons deli counter, unless you live in a state that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). For instance, Vons has most of its locations in California, among the states with an elaborate RMP program. So if you qualify for the CalFresh RMP, you’ll be able to buy hot prepared deli food at Vons with an EBT card. Unfortunately, Nevada doesn’t participate in the RMP.
Also, you won’t be able to pay for gas with an EBT at Vons gas stations or buy over-the-counter medicine at its pharmacy. The only way around it is when you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In that case, you can withdraw cash at Quest ATMs that dispense $1, $5, $50, or $100 and use it to pay for gas and medicine at Vons. Otherwise, be prepared with an alternative payment method like cash, check, or debit/credit card with a chip if you want to buy unapproved SNAP items in your order.
Does Vons Accept EBT?
Vons accepts EBT card payments at all California and Nevada locations for in-store purchases and curbside pickup. However, you can’t use your SNAP EBT and WIC benefits to purchase everything at Vons.
As an approved SNAP and WIC retailer, the supermarket chain follows the SNAP rules. You can only use your benefits to buy staple food items that you can carry and prepare at home. You can also redeem your SNAP funds on cold snack foods like bags of chips, soft drinks, and candy to eat on the go without further cooking.
However, you can’t use your EBT and WIC card to purchase fuel, medicine, or hot, ready-to-eat food at the deli counter. Limit yourself to the grocery department to avoid the embarrassment of returning unapproved items.
Alternatively, carry another form of payment if you want to grab a few SNAP-restricted items at Vons stores. Luckily, Vons accepts many other payment methods like cash, checks, Visa, Discover, American Express, MasterCard credit cards, debit cards bearing Visa or MasterCard logo, Vons gift cards, activated American Express gift cards, and contactless mobile payment methods like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
There are a few exceptions. California participates in the RMP. So if you live there and qualify to eat out at fast-food places that accept EBT, you’ll be able to purchase hot, prepared food at the Vons’ deli counter.
Again, TANF recipients can use their EBT cards to buy hot, ready-to-eat food, pay for gas, buy medicine at Vons, or get cash back at places that give $5 or $10 cash back. Vons is also among the stores that give the most cash back on debit cards.
What You Can You Buy With EBT at Vons?
SNAP rules limit what you can or can’t buy with an EBT card. Basically, SNAP aims to alleviate hunger in the United States. That’s why top SNAP recipients are usually low-income families and other less privileged groups, like people with disabilities, the elderly, and the homeless.
The USDA approves SNAP retailers and specific products eligible for EBT purchase, while SNAP agencies at the state level approve recipients. SNAP recipients can only use EBT cards to purchase staple food items that they can carry and cook at home or cold snack foods, like bags of chips, bakery items, and fresh fruits that can be eaten on the go.
The point is, SNAP doesn’t give you money to splurge on non-essential luxuries but only to supplement your basic nutritional needs. Therefore, you should stick to the grocery department or snack shelves when shopping with EBT at Vons.
The system will reject the purchase if you try to charge SNAP-prohibited items on your card; you’ll be forced to return things or pay using an alternative method.
Here’s a list of food you can buy with an EBT card at Vons:
- Bread and cereal
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Soft & Energy drinks like Pepsi, Sprite, Red Bull, among others
- Dessert items like brownies, cookies, ice cream, etc.
- Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Fruits and vegetables
- Pork products like sausages, chops, bacon, and tenderloin
- Red meat like steak, ribs, ground beef, and more
- Poultry products like chicken meat and eggs
- Cooking oils like olive, coconut, and vegetable oil
- Wonton wrappers
- Poke bowl
- Snack crackers and chips
- Donuts, pastries, and cakes
- Plants that produce vegetables, herbs, or fruit
Frugal Reality Tip: You can use your EBT card to buy protein powder, bars, and protein shakes, or crushed and cubed ice. You can also buy frozen or freshly-caught seafood like fish, shrimp, shellfish, lobster, or oysters at seafood places that accept food stamps.
What Can’t You Buy at Vons With SNAP Food Stamps?
You can’t redeem SNAP funds on non-food items and other non-essential luxuries. That means anything that doesn’t qualify as staple food cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits.
When shopping with your EBT card at Vons, avoid the following departments and products:
- Fuel pumps
- Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits
- Medicine and vitamins
- Tobacco products like cigarettes
- Pet food
- Cosmetics and feminine products
- Products with supplements labels
- Cleaning supplies like soap
- Household products
- Dry ice
- Types of indoor succulents
Frugal Reality Tip: If you live in California, you may be able to use your EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food at the Vons. TANF recipients can also withdraw their benefits and use the money to buy hot food, medicine, or gas at Vons. The policy may vary by location, so ask before you order anything.
Does Vons Accept WIC?
Yes, Vons is an approved WIC retailer and accepts WIC benefits for eligible purchases. So as long as you only buy WIC-approved food items, they’ll sell them to you.
WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. It’s a unique SNAP program geared toward providing nutritional and general healthcare benefits to infants, expectant mothers, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five. Over 53% of infants in the US benefit from the WIC program.
Though Vons accepts WIC, you’re restricted by SNAP rules on what you can spend your WIC funds on at its stores. Just like an EBT card, you can’t use your WIC benefits to splurge on non-essential luxuries.
Here’s a list of WIC-approved items you can buy at Vons:
- Infant food
- Infant formula
- Fruit/vegetable juice
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
- Bakery items like donuts, custom cakes, muffins, cookies
- Whole wheat/grain bread
- Whole wheat pasta
- Canned fish
- Ready-to-eat, instant, or hot cereals
- Corn or whole wheat tortillas
- Fruits and vegetables including fresh, dried, frozen, and canned
- Dry or canned beans, peas, or lentils
How To Use WIC and EBT at Vons?
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. SNAP uses a special debit card to electronically distribute government aid, like TANF, food stamps, and WIC to low-income families and other disadvantaged people. Once you qualify to receive government aid, an account is opened under your name, where your SNAP or WIC benefits are loaded every month.
You’re then issued an EBT/WIC card to easily access and spend your SNAP funds on eligible purchases from SNAP-approved retailers like Vons or wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club. EBT works like a standard debit card regardless of where you shop, following the Swipe and PIN payment processing system.
Once you’re done shopping at Vons, proceed to the checkout counter and swipe your EBT card. You’ll be prompted to enter your 4-digit secret PIN to authorize the payment. While you can use your debit card without a PIN, you must PIN an EBT card to authorize purchases.
Using WIC funds at Vons may vary slightly depending on how you receive WIC benefits. For example, some states use reloadable WIC cards, while others use checks or vouchers. Other states may deliver packages directly to recipients’ homes.
To pay with WIC benefits at Vons, bring your checks or signed vouchers to the checkout register and hand them over to the cashier. Then, if you have a WIC card, Swipe and PIN it as you would a regular debit card to authorize the payment.
If you’ve included SNAP-restricted items in your order, ask the cashier to split your order into multiple payment methods. Pay with your EBT or WIC benefits first, then use an alternative payment method to cover the remaining part of the order. Your purchase will be rejected if you try to buy eligible and ineligible items in a single transaction.
Frugal Reality Tip: Make it your habit to check your EBT or WIC balance before shopping and always carry an alternative payment card such as a credit card. It can save you the embarrassment of having to return things if you run out of SNAP funds at the store or want to buy a few restricted items.
Can You Buy Steak with an EBT Card?
Yes, you can buy red meat like steak, ribs, and ground beef with an EBT card. In addition, any staple food items that you can carry at home, including meat, poultry products like chicken meat, eggs, dairy products like milk, fresh vegetables, pork products, cereal, and frozen or freshly-caught seafood, can be bought with EBT funds.
The only things you should steer clear of when shopping with your EBT card are non-essential luxuries like alcoholic drinks, hot and prepared foods, and tobacco products. In addition, non-food items like medicine, vitamins, supplements, cleaning supplies, and household products are also SNAP-prohibited.
Recommended Read: Does CVS accept EBT?
Can You Buy Crab Legs with Food Stamps?
No, you can’t buy steamed crab legs with food stamps. It’s because SNAP prohibits the use of SNAP funds on hot, prepared food at the point of sale. Steamed crabs and crab legs are considered cooked and ready to eat on-site by the USDA; thus, they aren’t eligible for SNAP purchases.
That said, you can buy live, freshly-caught, or frozen crabs and other types of seafood like fish, shellfish, lobster, oysters, and shrimp from seafood marketplaces or grocery stores that accept EBT for home preparation.
Doe Vons Accept WIC and EBT Summary
All Vons supermarkets accept WIC and EBT for in-store purchases and pickup orders. However, only SNAP-eligible products can be bought with WIC and EBT benefits at Vons. So, restrict yourself to the grocery department or cold snack shelves. Bring an alternative form of payment if you want to fuel your car or grab a few SNAP-restricted items at Vons.
Unless your state participates in the RMP, you won’t be able to use your EBT card at the Vons. For example, Nevada doesn’t have a Restaurant Meals Program, but California does. Thus, CalFresh RMP-eligible EBT cardholders may use their SNAP cards at Vons. TANF recipients in both states can withdraw cash at Quest ATM, get cash back, buy food, fuel, and medicine. Ask before you order to avoid inconveniences.
It takes food and energy to pursue personal and financial goals. But, of course, you can’t save $10,000 in a year on an empty stomach. It also takes careful planning to retire on a six-figure or seven-figure nest egg. That’s where a balanced meal comes in.