The other day I was wondering if you can get food stamps for your rabbit, and I honestly had no idea. So I decided to do some research and share my findings with you.
The federal SNAP program, also known as Food Stamps, does not cover food for your bunny rabbit, or any other pet. Food Stamps is a program primarily meant to ensure that no person goes hungry. Sadly, it cannot do the same for your bunny rabbit friend.
There are some alternatives to SNAP Program for pets that we’ll delve into in a bit, but first let’s make sure we understand the existing food stamp program.
What is SNAP/Food Stamps
To understand why you can’t get SNAP for your bunny you must first understand what the SNAP program is.
First I wanted to understand the history and purpose of the federal food stamp program, SNAP, so I visited the United States Department of Agriculture website to learn more.
The SNAP program started in 1939 when the FSP (Food Stamp Program) was first established. The program served millions of Americans but was terminated a short time later because of excessive cost and declining need.
The implementation of the SNAP program we know today began in the early 60s. The program was taken nationwide in 1964 with the Food Stamp Act.
For the next four decades, the program continued to expand and morph, with major milestones including the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the program in 1974 and the slow introduction of electronic payments between the late 80s and early 2000s. Finally, in 2008 Food Stamps was renamed SNAP.
According to US Law, SNAP benefits can be used for a large array of food products for low-income Americans. This does not mean that you can buy anything intended for consumption with the SNAP program though, there are certain limitations that apply.
The general rule of thumb is that if the food is not for immediate consumption and has some nutritional value, it can be bought with SNAP benefits, but let’s get a little more specific to see the true limitations.
All food bought with SNAP must be intended for human consumption and cannot contain alcohol, tobacco, or be hot food intended for immediate consumption. There are a limited number of exceptions to this rule though.
With SNAP benefits you can buy seeds, and in very remote areas of Alaska, you can even buy equipment needed to hunt or fish for food. There are also some organizations that are authorized to serve food to the disabled and others in difficult situations using SNAP benefits.
Why Can’t I Use Food Stamps for My Rabbit?
The USDA is very clear about food purchases for pets.
SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy:
“SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy: Any nonfood item, such as pet foods; soaps, paper products, and household supplies; grooming items, toothpaste, and cosmetics. [etc…]”Source USDA Snap FAQ
You cannot buy rabbit food with SNAP benefits, not because there is a prohibition on pet food specifically, but because rabbit food is generally not meant for human consumption.
There have been petitions in the past that have tried to allow you to buy pet food on SNAP benefits, but the petitions have not seen enough success to convince congress to take action.
Unfortunately, if this is going to change it cannot be changed at the local level, it must change at the federal level.
If you want to see this change you can always contact your representative and voice your concern, but considering how difficult it can be to achieve federal action, you might be better off finding another way to take care of your furry friend.
Alternatives To SNAP Or Food Stamps for Your Bunny Rabbit
If you have a rabbit your situation maybe a little better than it is for many pet owners. While the bulk of your rabbit’s food needs are satisfied through things like pellets and hay, many of your rabbit’s treats are often intended for human consumption.
Pet Food Stamps
If you google for pet food stamps you might find a program called PetKeen that advertises it will provide you with food for your pet if you are in a time of need – similar to food stamps. This program, unfortunately, is no longer operating, so if you need help feeding your pet you will probably have to find a more local option.
Local Options To Feed Your Pet Rabbit
There are many local options for pet food pantries or assistance programs – like this one from Star Relief in Connecticut. The issue here is that it can be difficult to find assistance near you.
How to Find Local Pet Care Help
The Humane Society has tools to help you find assistance in your area, whether that be help with veterinary care, food assistance, or shelter for your furry friend. There are tools for those in the US, as well as a few other countries. If you need help, this may be useful.
The site does seem to have some holes though, so you might need to do a little research yourself. Some useful queries might be, “pet food pantry [insert your area]”, “pet care help [insert your area]”, or “humane society [insert your area]”.
After you find a organization near you, contact them and ask them if they have any services available for rabbits. You can move forward from their.
Though the SNAP program does not directly provide benefits that can help you with feeding and otherwise taking care of your bunny rabbit, it is entirely possible to find help, whether that be buying treats with some of your SNAP benefits, or finding help through a local private program.