Does Whole Foods accept EBT - Frugal Reality

Does Whole Foods Accept EBT? Food Stamps | SNAP | WIC

SNAP or WIC recipients who want healthy choices for food to eat should visit a nearby Whole Foods Market.

Who is Whole Foods Market?

Whole Foods Market is a grocery chain in the US that’s well-known for its high-quality foods. In 2017, Amazon bought the supermarket chain that only stocks the best quality organic and natural foods.

It believes that “living well begins with eating well” and bans artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and over 100 flavors, colors, and preservatives from every food item sold in its stores. If it doesn’t meet these standards, Whole Foods doesn’t stock or sell it!

There are over 505 Whole Foods Market locations in the US. After Amazon’s takeover, the grocery chain is now focusing on making its quality foods more affordable online via Amazon Fresh and its stores.

Of course, “quality and cheap” is a boon for every EBT frugal consumer seeking to save $10,000 in a year!. After SNAP loads food stamps into your EBT card, can you take advantage of all the top-quality health foods at Whole Foods? It leads us to the question:

Does Whole Foods take food stamps?

Quick Answer: All Whole Foods Market locations across the US accept SNAP benefits for in-store purchases. Supplemental Nutrition Program(SNAP) is a federal program that operates in every state. Whole Foods Market locations accept EBT card payments in every state. That said, you can only use your EBT card to purchase SNAP-eligible foods at Whole Food Market stores.

According to Whole Foods, they accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash
  • Electronic Food Stamps (EBT)
  • Major credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Apple Pay
  • Mastercard and Visa gift cards
  • American Express gift cards

Does Whole Foods Take SNAP/EBT?

Yes, all Whole Foods Market locations accept SNAP/EBT for in-store purchases. According to Whole Foods, their stores accept electronic food stamps, cash, major debit/credit cards, Apple Pay, Whole Foods Market gift cards, and other major gift cards, including Amex and Mastercard gift cards. You must first activate your American Express gift card before using it to shop online or at Whole Foods Market stores.

You can only use your EBT card to purchase SNAP-approved food items at Whole Foods supermarkets. Unless you live in one of the six states that accept EBT food delivery through the Restaurant Meals Program(RMP), you won’t be able to purchase hot, prepared meals at any of Whole Foods Supermarkets.

Whole Foods does not accept money orders or cash third-party checks.

Does Whole Foods Delivery Take EBT?

As of now, you cannot use EBT for online delivery orders or store pickup at most Whole Foods locations. But some Whole Foods stores participate in the federal pilot EBT program. It’s meant to add EBT as an online payment method in every state and allow SNAP beneficiaries to order groceries online. You can register through Amazon to check whether you can use your EBT for Whole Foods delivery in your area.

If you want to use your EBT for Whole Foods delivery, access Whole Foods products via Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry, and Amazon Grocery. Since Amazon takes EBT, it means you can order SNAP-eligible Whole Foods items online via Amazon Fresh delivery service. We’ll discuss that later in the article.

Want to find more stores that accept EBT online? See our article on Grocery Stores That Accept EBT for Online Grocery Delivery/Pickup. At least, you can shop from the comfort of your house!

List of Eligible Food Stamp Items

Though Whole Foods Market accepts EBT for in-store purchases in all its locations, SNAP rules limit what you can redeem the SNAP funds at the grocery and retail stores.

Generally, you can only use EBT to purchase SNAP-eligible items. It’s the type of food that forms a balanced diet and can be prepared at home to be eaten as a meal.

Here’s a list of eligible food stamp items that you can buy at Whole Foods Market with an EBT card:

  • Fruits and vegetables, including frozen canned and fresh vegetables
  • Dairy products including cheese, milk, yogurt, and almond milk
  • Bread and cereals
  • Food producing seeds and plants
  • Snacks and non-alcoholic soft drinks
  • Frozen, canned, and fresh foods
  • Poultry, pork products, frozen/fresh seafood like fish, and discount meat.
  • Cooking oils including avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.

What EBT/SNAP Benefits Cannot Be Used To Buy?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is only meant to provide basic food items to low-income families. Rules are in place to ensure that EBT cards cannot be used to purchase anything that leans on the luxury side of life and non-essentials. Allowing such will defeat the purpose of the program!

You cannot use EBT to buy foods or products in any of the following categories:

  • Alcohol and tobacco products
  • Hot, prepared foods
  • Lottery tickets
  • Toiletries
  • Pet food
  • Vitamins and medicines

Essentially, you should steer clear of any food department that deals with any of these products when shopping with your EBT card at Whole Foods Market. Shop any food aisle except for the following:

Some states extend SNAP by participating in the Restaurant Meals Program(RMP) to cushion disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless. It’s for people who cannot cook or don’t have the means to transport and prepare food at home.

Can I Use EBT SNAP at the Whole Foods Hot Bar?

You’ll only be able to purchase hot, prepared food at Whole Foods Market if your state participates in the RMP program. The cash register knows what items are SNAP eligible vs. not eligible. Otherwise, you cannot use an EBT card to buy Whole Foods hot bar food.

How To Use EBT at Whole Foods?

EBT is just a type of debit card used by SNAP to electronically distribute food stamps and other forms of government aid to the needy and low income families. Thus, EBT works just like a normal credit and debit card with a chip. Like debit cards, EBT cards follow the Swipe and PIN payment processing system.

Once done shopping, head to the checkout counter and swipe your EBT card. The card reader will prompt you to enter your 4-digit secret PIN. Simply enter your PIN to complete the purchase. You cannot use a debit card without a PIN number to pay with SNAP funds.

A problem may arise if you don’t have enough money to cover your entire purchase or your shopping list contains SNAP-ineligible items. You have a few options. You can choose to return the items or pay with a different payment method like cash, debit or credit card, personal check, or any accepted Whole Foods Markets gift cards.

In this case, ask the cashier to split your order into multiple payment methods. Pay with your EBT card first and use the other payment option to cover the remaining order balance.

To avoid future card problems, always check your EBT balance before you go shopping. You can easily do that by visiting ATMs that dispense $5 or $10 near me or calling your State’s EBT customer service line.

Most Whole Foods Market locations don’t take EBT online for delivery orders or in-store pickups. Online, you can use EBT for Whole Foods delivery via Amazon Fresh or if your local Whole Foods Market participates in the federal EBT pilot program.

See our guide on meal delivery kits that accept EBT online.

Does Whole Foods take EBT Online?

Currently, most Whole Foods Market locations don’t take EBT online. Only a few Whole Foods stores participate in a pilot EBT delivery program to enable SNAP beneficiaries to order groceries online. It means you can’t use EBT for Whole Foods delivery unless your zip code participates in the government’s delivery pilot program.

Luckily, Amazon-Whole Foods takes EBT. Whole Foods Market is now part of Amazon, and customers can access most Whole Foods Market products online via Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry, and Amazon Grocery.

Since Amazon accepts EBT for delivery orders through Amazon Fresh, a SNAP recipient can order EBT-approved food items online at all participating states (except Hawaii) and the District of Columbia.

Your takeaway: You can use EBT for Whole Food delivery by ordering online via the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service.

What Are The Benefits of Using EBT on Wholes Food delivery via Amazon?

There are some great perks using EBT on Amazon for Whole Foods delivery, including:

  • No Prime Membership Required: EBT cardholders can use the Amazon Fresh delivery service without registering for the mandatory Amazon Prime membership.
  • Free delivery for orders of $35: You can get your stuff online without paying a penny for shipping for orders of $35. You won’t have to worry about paying separately for delivery fees.
  • 50% discount on Amazon Prime membership: Though it’s not required, SNAP and Medicaid beneficiaries who register for an Amazon Prime membership enjoy a 50% discount.
  • Access to Whole Foods products: EBT cardholders have access to many Whole Foods Market items via Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry, and Amazon Grocery.

These are rare perks! Take advantage of them.

Does Whole Foods Take WIC?

Yes, WIC is an accepted payment method in most Whole Foods Market stores. You can only use your WIC card or checks to purchase WIC-approved food items at Whole Foods.

Just bring your WIC card, vouchers, or any approved checks from the WIC program to make your purchase. All WIC-eligible items will be listed on the checks to ensure you only include approved items in your order. Otherwise, your food items will be rejected at the checkout register.

WIC is a special SNAP extension to provide nutritional and general healthcare benefits to expectant mothers, breastfeeding women, and children below five years old. It stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Currently, over 53% of infants in the US are WIC beneficiaries!

To start accepting WIC benefits, individual store locations must be authorized by the respective states.

Consider calling your local Whole Foods location to verify it accepts EBT before making a trip. Alternatively, check with your local benefits agency for all the approved grocery stores in your area.

What Items Can You Buy With WIC at Whole Foods?

The WIC program’s purpose is to provide nutritional benefits to Women, Infants, and Children. Just like EBT, you can’t use your WIC benefits to splurge on non-essential basic food. You can only use your card to buy WIC-approved items at Whole Foods Market and other grocery stores.

Here’s a list of eligible WIC items at Whole Foods:

  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Infant food
  • Milk
  • Infant formula
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit/vegetable juice
  • Fruits and vegetables including fresh, canned, frozen, or dried
  • Dry or canned beans, peas, or lentils
  • Peanut butter
  • Yogurt
  • Bakery goods including donuts, custom cakes, muffins, cookies
  • Whole wheat/grain bread
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Canned fish
  • Ready-to-eat, instant, or hot cereals
  • Corn or whole wheat tortillas

What Items Can You Not Buy With WIC at Whole Foods?

When you go shopping with your WIC card at Whole Foods, you need to avoid all the food departments that sell items that you can’t buy with WIC.

On top of all the above SNAP-ineligible foods, here’s a list of the WIC-ineligible items:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Creamed vegetables or vegetables added with sauces
  • Fruit-nut mixtures
  • Peanuts or other nuts
  • Breaded vegetables
  • Vegetable-grain (pasta or rice) mixtures
  • Mixed vegetables containing noodles, nuts, or sauce packets
  • Chili peppers and garlic on a string
  • Painted pumpkins, gourds, fruit baskets, and party vegetable trays
  • Infant food combination like meat and vegetable or spaghetti and meatballs
  • Medicine or drugs
  • Feeding utensils or devices
  • Non-canned seafood
  • Sports or breakfast drinks
  • Fast food

How To Use WIC at Whole Foods?

The process of using WIC is different from SNAP and varies from state to state. Unlike SNAP, where all states use an EBT card to distribute benefits, different states use varied ways to allocate WIC funds. Some states use reloadable WIC cards, while others issue checks or vouchers to WIC recipients. In some states, WIC food packages are delivered directly to the beneficiaries’ homes.

How you use your WIC funds depends on how your state distributes benefits. If your state delivers food packages to your home, just relax and wait for the date. Otherwise, go shopping at your nearest Whole Foods Market with your WIC card, check, or vouchers.

Bring your benefits card, signed vouchers, or checks to the checkout register. If you have a WIC card, Swipe, and PIN to authorize the payment just as you would an EBT or debit card.

Just a few things to remember: A frugal living tip with a big impact to save money is always carry a cheap grocery list to avoid overspending. Also, make sure to check your WIC balance to ensure you have enough money to cover your purchase.

Again, it is a good practice to carry an alternative payment method like a debit/credit card or cash, just in case you run out of WIC funds at the store, or you want to grab a WIC-ineligible item, like cheap diapers.

See our guide on Great Depression survival tips and lessons learned.

Does Whole Foods Accept EBT Summary

Whole Foods accepts EBT and WIC for in-store purchases. Bring your EBT card and go shopping for SNAP-eligible products at your nearest Whole Foods Store, the health benefits of organic and natural foods. You can also access and order many Whole Foods items online via Amazon Fresh delivery service.

Check your EBT balance before you go. Simply swipe and pin your card to complete the purchase at the grocery store cash register. Don’t forget to carry an alternative payment option for ineligible foods and goods like filtered water.

Happy healthy living!

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