When you're approved for food stamp benefits in Michigan, you receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card. The EBT card officially replaced the large paper coupons once provided to program recipients in June 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new card is like a state credit card: You must choose a Personal Identification Number, or PIN, to protect your benefits.
What You Can Buy
The U.S. Department of Agriculture decides which food items can be purchased with the EBT card in Michigan. Fresh produce, fresh meat, frozen goods, canned goods, pasta, milk, cheese and eggs are all eligible to buy with your EBT card. In fact, most food items are. You can even buy seeds and plants that are vegetable- or fruit-producing, as long as you intend to grow the food for home use.
What You Can't Buy
There are certain food items you can't buy with an EBT card in Michigan, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hot foods — such as rotisserie chicken or buffet items from a store's deli area — aren't eligible, nor are any foods meant to be eaten on-site, such as in a restaurant. Exceptions to this are home-delivered meals for the elderly or disabled, or soup kitchen meals for the homeless. You also can't buy alcohol, cigarettes, paper materials, cleaning supplies or magazines with your EBT card.
Don't use your Michigan food stamps for anything other than what they were intended for. Don't sell them to other people for cash, and don't trade them for services or goods. This is illegal. Food stamp fraud is punishable by the law, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and you have to repay any benefits you misused. You may also be barred from using the food stamp program again in the future.
If you're unable to buy your own groceries with your Michigan EBT card, you can assign an authorized representative to buy them for you, according to the Michigan Food Assistance Partnership. Tell your caseworker you want to authorize someone to use your benefits for you; an additional EBT card is provided for this person. The card has both of your names on it, as well as the initials "ARFS" for "Authorized Representative Food Stamps." The card and a separate PIN are sent to you so you can give it to your representative at your discretion.