Can You Buy Ice on Food Stamps

Yes, you can buy ice using food stamps. Ice is considered a food item because it can be used to keep food cold, which is necessary for preserving food and maintaining its nutritional value. As a result, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, allows the purchase of ice with food stamps benefits. This flexibility helps ensure that SNAP participants have access to the necessary resources to store and preserve their food effectively.

Food Stamps Eligibility and Ice Purchases

Food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide financial assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. However, there are strict guidelines on what can and cannot be bought with SNAP benefits.

Ice Purchases

Unfortunately, ice is not an eligible food item under SNAP. This means that you cannot use your SNAP benefits to purchase ice, whether it is in bags, blocks, or any other form.

The reason for this exclusion is that ice is not considered a nutritious food item. It does not provide any significant nutritional value and does not contribute to a healthy diet. Additionally, ice is not a staple food item that is essential for a balanced diet.

SNAP Eligibility

Eligibility for SNAP benefits is determined based on several factors, including:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Household size
  • Disability status
  • Student status

Income limits vary from state to state, but generally, a household must have a gross income that is below a certain threshold to be eligible for SNAP benefits. Assets are also taken into consideration, and households with excessive assets may not be eligible.

SNAP benefits are provided on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used to purchase eligible food items at authorized retailers. EBT cards cannot be used to purchase non-food items, such as ice.

Each state has its own SNAP program, so the eligibility criteria and benefit amounts may vary slightly from state to state. To learn more about SNAP eligibility and benefits in your state, you can visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website or contact your local SNAP office.

Alternatives to Buying Ice with Food Stamps

If you’re looking for ways to save money on ice without using food stamps, here are a few options to consider:

  • Freeze Your Own Ice Cubes: Filling ice cube trays with water and freezing them in your freezer is the most cost-effective way to get ice. You can also freeze juice, tea, or fruit-infused water.
  • Use a Reusable Ice Pack: These can be frozen and used to cool food in lunch boxes, picnic coolers, or on camping trips.
  • Find a Local Ice Bank: Some communities have ice banks where you can get ice for free or at a reduced cost. Contact your local community center or food bank to see if there is one in your area.
  • Ask a Local Business: Sometimes, local businesses like restaurants or gas stations will be willing to give you ice if you ask politely. You may need to bring your own container.
  • Look for Sales: Keep an eye out for sales on ice at your local grocery store. You may be able to find it at a discounted price.
Freeze Your Own Ice Cubes

Free (except for the cost of electricity)

Requires freezer space and time to freeze

Use a Reusable Ice Pack

Varies depending on the type and size of the ice pack

Convenient and portable, but may need to be refrozen periodically

Find a Local Ice Bank

Free or low-cost

May require travel and may not be available in all areas

Ask a Local Business

Free or low-cost

May require asking multiple businesses and may not always be successful

Look for Sales

Varies depending on the sale price

May require checking multiple stores and may not always find sales

Can You Buy Ice on Food Stamps?

Generally, the answer is no. Food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are intended to help low-income households purchase food for consumption at home. Ice, on the other hand, is not considered a food item and is not covered by SNAP benefits.

Reasons for Food Stamp Rules on Ice Purchases

  • Ice is not a food item. SNAP benefits are intended to be used to purchase food items, which are defined by the USDA as “edible substances, beverages, and food products intended for human consumption.” Ice is not an edible substance and is not intended for human consumption, therefore it does not fall under the definition of a food item.
  • Ice can be easily obtained for free. Ice is widely available for free from various sources, such as public water fountains, ice machines in public places, and even some restaurants and gas stations. As such, there is no need to use SNAP benefits to purchase ice.
  • Ice is not necessary for a healthy diet. Ice does not provide any nutritional value and is not essential for a healthy diet. SNAP benefits are intended to help low-income households purchase food items that are necessary for a healthy diet, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein.


There are a few exceptions to the general rule that ice cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits. In some cases, ice may be eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if it is:

  • Medically necessary. Ice may be eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if it is prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition, such as a heat-related illness.
  • Used in the preparation of food. Ice may be eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if it is used in the preparation of food, such as for making iced tea or lemonade.

It is important to note that these exceptions are very limited and may vary depending on the specific rules and regulations governing SNAP benefits in each state.

SNAP Eligibility for Ice Purchases
Purpose of IceSNAP Eligibility
Medically necessaryYes
Used in food preparationYes

If you have any questions about whether or not you can use SNAP benefits to purchase ice, you should contact your local SNAP office or visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website for more information.

Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you know about your food stamp benefits, the better you can use them to feed your family and save money. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time! In the meantime, be sure to check out our other articles on food stamps and other ways to save money on food.