The federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, allows for low-income individuals and families to supplement their food budget and make sure they're getting enough nutritional food to eat.
While EBT's guidelines are largely the same for what you can purchase in most states (with a few exceptions), foods and chains vary widely from coast to coast. Here are seven surprising things you can buy with your food stamps, specifically on the East Coast.
The East Coast is popular for its fishing and shellfish in abundance, where you can get some of the freshest seafood you'll ever eat in its prime season. Fortunately for SNAP recipients, you can eat like a king, because fresh lobster is among the items you can purchase with EBT (but only if it's fresh and cold; hot prepared lobster does not qualify).
It falls under the category of fish and seafood and is exempt from the "no live animals" rule. The only catch is that you'll have to prepare it yourself -- but some people prefer that.
White Castle Burgers
White Castle burger joints are an iconic fast food place in the Midwest but also out east, and one of America's first fast food burger places, opened in 1921. In 2014, Time magazine called their burgers "the most influential burger of all time" according to White Castle's website.
While they can't claim credit for creating the hamburger, they definitely popularized it, and you can take advantage of their infamous tasty burgers with your EBT, because it allows for the purchase of fast food.
Hudson Valley Gift Baskets
In New York's Hudson valley, there are a ton of local businesses, including "distilleries, butchers, cideries, and grocers," according to Hudson Valley Magazine. The magazine recommended a series of food-based gift baskets for holidays and special events, and those on EBT could ostensibly make their own gift baskets from any East Coast shops, so long as the contents are comprised of at least 50% edible foods.
Cakes, Cookies and Donuts
Being on a budget doesn't mean you should have to miss out on tasty treats or celebratory moments, and the SNAP program agrees, because cakes, cookies and donuts are all acceptable for purchase with food stamps.
Some fabulous East Coast bakeries accept EBT, from Bimbo's Bakeries to Pepperidge Farms Outlets to Aldi and Kroger grocery stores. So, you should have no problem finding a place to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Mallomars is a cookie that was created in West Hoboken, New Jersey by Nabisco in 1913, according to Thrillist, and about 70% of them are sold in the New York area. The simple cookie is a combination of cookie crust, marshmallow center, covered in a thin layer of chocolate, and it's often in demand because it's only available between September and March every year.
That's because the cookie's thin chocolate doesn't hold up well in the heat, and it can't be shipped very far as a result. Fortunately, with EBT you can take advantage of a cookie so tasty, people have a tendency to hoard them.
SNAP incentivizes eating healthy foods, particularly fruits and veggies, and makes it possible for people to grow their own food by purchasing seeds and seedlings with EBT, according to Low Income Relief.
One little item that walks the line between food and plant, but is available for purchase with EBT, is a Chia Pet -- those funny little clay figurines you can grow chia plants inside. That's because chia seeds are edible.
Dunkin' Donuts Brew at Home Coffee
The famed coffee and donuts chain got its start in 1948 in Massachusetts where founder William Rosenberg was determined to sell the best, and cheapest, coffee and donuts around, according to the company's website. By 1955, there were 100 shops around New England and the East Coast.
While you can't use your EBT to buy coffee from a Dunkin' Donuts shop, you can use it to buy the brew-at-home version of the iconic coffee, so long as you will be brewing and enjoying it away from the premises where you purchase it.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Surprising Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps on the East Coast