(Last updated on 12/3/19)
If you have a store or farmer’s market, you can increase your revenue by accepting food stamps (EBT Card or SNAP Benefits Card).
However, before you apply to accept Food Stamps, there are a few eligibility criteria you need to understand before you complete the application.
Accepting food stamps can help boost your revenue, but there are many rules about what can be purchased and not purchased with food stamps.
Be sure you are ready to enforce those rule and also have your employees do the same.
Otherwise, you will be committing Food Stamps fraud – which could end you up in jail – or at minimum, revocation of your license.
Eligibility Criteria to Accept SNAP Cards or Food Stamps
Here are the eligibility criteria you have to meet to accept food stamps at your store:
1. Store Eligibility
To be eligible to accept food stamp payments, your store(s) must meet one of the following two criteria:
a) Your store must get at least 50 percent of its sales (food, nonfood, gas, and services) from food stamp eligible foods. Note that for this purposes, “services” include rental fees, games, dry cleaners, lottery)
b) Your store(s) must offer at least three different types of food in each of the four food-staple groups, and at least two of those categories must have perishable foods.
Here are the four USDA Food Staple groups for the food stamps program:
- meat, poultry or fish
- bread or cereal
- vegetables or fruits
- dairy products
For more on these eligibility criteria, click here.
2. Product Eligibility
There are very strict rules about what can and CANNOT be purchased with an EBT/Food Stamps card.
If you are approved to accept Food Stamps, you are responsible for enforcing these rules. Failure to do this can end you up in big trouble.
That is why the USDA has taken the time to issue training guides for retailers that accept food stamps.
The training materials are available in English, Korean, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese – to help you train your employees about what products can be purchased with food stamps.
Below is the list of food items you can buy with Food Stamps:
It is clear that the goal of the program is to provide nutritious food to eligible low-income persons and families.
That is why the USDA emphasizes that foods purchased under the SNAP/Food Stamps program must be for home preparation and consumption.
The politics of food stamps is charged and heated, so if you accept Food Stamps, the optics of your store is important.
What you display is important. Just think about how you present your store to the general public and what a TV news reporter could say about your store if they show up with a camera.
Therefore things like liquor store signs next to “We accept SNAP Cards” or a convenience store displaying “We Accept EBT Cards” next to cigarettes and alcohol present a bad image.
That’s exactly the kind of display that could make your store a target for reporters (even if you have foods in your store that meet the USDA criteria for accepting food stamps).
To apply and accept SNAP at your store, see our complete guide on the application process.