Is the Sale of Food Stamps (SNAP/EBT Benefits) or WIC Products Illegal?

Is the Sale of Food Stamps (SNAP/EBT Benefits) or WIC Products Illegal?

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Chances are you have seen someone selling food stamps, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or WIC products on social media sites or on Craigslist.

Most of the time the person selling gets away with selling these items with little or no penalties because of the lack of reporting. The majority of people live busy lives, working, and raising their children and believe they have no time to pry in the business of others. The fact is, many struggling families have been turned away from these programs that may have had broader income guidelines if those not in need, and able to sell these were not receiving them.

The vast majority of those receiving food stamps, which is disbursed through an Electronic BenefitsTransfer (EBT) card is given to families with children in order to help them provide the proper nutrition to their children. WIC guidelines allow families with children under the age of five to receive benefits, with a family of four being able to earn to $3747 per month. Families of four requesting SNAP benefits must earn under $3925 per month, the amount received varies per gross income of the family. The maximum SNAP grant for a family of four is $649 per month, this is what those with little or no income will receive. If receiving cash assistance, a family of four with no other income in California will receive between $810-$949.

When counting income, SSI income, loans/grants, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Disaster Benefits do not count against the applicant. The gross family earned income will be counted and a portion will not be counted against the applicant. Any other unearned income not listed above including Social Security Disability Insurance and investment income will be countable. The cost of living, in most cases surpasses the benefit amount, making some use the sale of other benefits to supply gas, diapers, pay a bill, or supply for other household needs. Although there are the cases of those selling a portion of their food for needs, there are also those who do so in order to purchase cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, or other not needed items.

Regardless of the reason or need, selling SNAP Benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps) is illegal. Selling benefits for cash, drugs, weapons, or other items is against the law. If the amount sold is $100 or more, it is a felony and less than $100 is a misdemeanor. Selling any amount of benefits is against the Department of Agriculture, Food Stamp Act (U.S.C. 2024). It is also illegal for the beneficiary and store, for the store clerk to accept SNAP benefits for the purchase of non-food items.

As far as WIC products being sold, the recipient agrees in writing, that he/she will not sell or improperly disposes of WIC products will be in violation of Federal WIC regulations. Offering to sell by posting benefits in print or online or allowing someone else to do so is proof that the participant has committed a participant violation. Those who do so will be sanctioned and will lose benefits for up to one year, also WIC officials may refer the vendor or participant to Federal, State, or local authorities for prosecution.

If anyone would like to report the sale or improper use of WIC or SNAP benefits should email You can also call 1-800-424-9121 or write to U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General PO Box 23399, Washington, DC 20026-3399.

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Image Sources:

  • Food-Stamp-Fraud: (Right) California Dept. Public Health (Left) Photo by Christie Martin 24/7 Headline News
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