Looking at what can be bought with an EBT card - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Looking at what can be bought with an EBT card

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A lingerie store in Louisiana is drawing controversy for accepting EBT cards for purchases. We see the signs all over town "EBT accepted here," so what all can be purchased on these cards in Alabama?

Here's how it works. If you are eligible for SNAP, or what's commonly referred to as food stamps, you're issued an EBT card with guidelines: no beer, wine, tobacco, pet food, soap, paper products, etc. You can get fruits and vegetables, meat, cereal, and dairy products. But you can also get seafood, energy drinks, and store bought cakes which are items some people don't consider the basics.

But Barry Spear with Alabama Department of Human Resources says people should reserve judgment when standing in a grocery line.

"That person may not have bought anything special for a long, long time, maybe somebody is visiting and they want to feel good and that may just really be an exception to them," said Spear.

About 400,000 Alabamians receive SNAP assistance. But then there's another program called TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Families who qualify for TANF receive $190 each month. That money goes onto their EBT card as well.

It's designed to allow families to buy items SNAP doesn't cover such as laundry detergent, paper towels, and medications. However, there are no penalties in place if they use it another way.

"They can go to an ATM and withdraw it as cash and spend it that way, but it's important to remember the people who are on this program have to meet a very low or no income level to get on this program," said Spear.

To get the TANF funding you must have children and only make a certain amount of money each year. Only 20,000 Alabamians meet the criteria.

"There's no system that's perfect that can't be improved on. We think for the most part it works pretty well," said Spear.

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