Can I accept SNAP (Food Stamps) through my CSA or Farm Stand?
Yes! SNAP is a federal benefit that runs via debit on EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards. It is managed by USDA FNS, which authorizes individual retailers to accept SNAP benefits. Farms can sign-up just like retail stores can to accept this form of payment.
Is this right for my business?
Be sure to consider whether becoming a SNAP retailer will suit your business plan. Traditionally, CSAs rely on payment at the beginning of the growing season to ensure a successful start. Federal regulations around SNAP require that for-profit farm businesses must accept payment at the time of pickup. Non-profit coops can accept payment up to two weeks in advance. Additionally, you will need specific EBT card processing equipment in order to process payment.
Good questions to ask include, "How can I market to these consumers?" and "Is it economically feasible for me to forgo pre-season financial support in lieu of weekly payments?"
Benefits to becoming a SNAP retailer
Increased sales, increased community membership and involvement in your farm business and increased community access to fresh and nutritious food!
A few words of advice...
- Setting up a system to accept SNAP for your CSA can take time. Start early in your season, if possible!
- Keep copies of all documents. When working with Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to register as a SNAP retailer, documents may get misplaced or are never received. Be prepared to send again, if necessary. Keep track of when you apply and follow-up if you don't hear anything within a couple weeks.
- Be diligent. Communicate with (FNS) proactively and regularly to ensure appropriate and timely receipt and processing of your application. This is very important!
How can I offer SNAP to my customers?
Step 1: Apply to become a SNAP retailer online to receive an FNS account number
Alternatively, you can request a paper application by calling toll-free 1-877-823-4369; the paper application package is usually received within 3-4 business days.
Step 2: Apply to get an EBT machine after you have an FNS account number
Alternatively, if you sell at a farmers market, you may be eligible to accept EBT via a smartphone.
For more information, please review these resources from FNS:
Want to share this information with a fellow farmer? Download a PDF brochure here.
Are you a farmer who sells at a farmers market that does not accept SNAP? Here is a guide for how to make it happen!Other questions? Contact Kayla at firstname.lastname@example.org.