What are Food Stamps?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal assistance program, known as the Food Stamp Program in New York State, which provides benefits to low-income households in the United States. These benefits are distributed via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which work like debit cards.
Farmers can now accept EBT cards at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and for community supported agriculture (CSA) memberships. Note that EBT cards can only be used to purchase foods for home preparation and seeds and plants for households to grow food. For more information about eligible items and the SNAP program, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/.
Accepting EBT Cards
The following information is provided by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) and can be found in full at http://www.nofany.org/foodjustice.
Note that the guidelines below are for sites with electricity. For sites without electricity, the New York State Farmers Market Wireless EBT Program, administered by the Farmers Market Federation of New York, provides wireless terminals for the JP Morgan or independent POS terminals. For more information or to apply for this program, contact Diane Eggert at (315) 637-4690 (after being approved by the FNS). Visit http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/ebt-and-creditdebit-machines/ for more information.
For Farm Stands or U-Pick Operations:
- The first step is to become licensed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Call the FNS at (877) 823-4369 to receive a paper application or apply online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/fm.htm (apply under the designation of a farmers’ market).
- Mail your application and all required documentation, including the application signature page, to the address provided in the application.
- Processing and approval may take up to 45 days. Once complete, you will receive a welcome packet from the FNS with your certification card. You will also receive a welcome packet from JP Morgan* and an application for a state-sponsored EBT terminal.
- Complete the JP Morgan application and mail it to the specified address. You should receive verification and manual vouchers (in case your terminal is or becomes temporarily inoperable) within 14-16 days. Note that farmers also have the option of having EBT cards added to their existing Point of Service (POS) terminals, though an initiation and/or monthly fees might apply.
*JP Morgan is a global financial services firm and works with U.S. state governments to accept and process forms and payments from constituents, including electronic benefits transfers. For more information, visit https://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan.
For Farmers’ Markets:
A farmers’ market organization can become authorized as an EBT card retailer and accept EBT benefits on behalf of farmers and vendors in the market. Once authorized, the market is provided with a single wireless EBT machine free of charge, as well as wooden tokens or paper scrip, training, and promotional support.
At farmers’ markets, EBT consumers swipe their cards at the EBT machine at a market manager’s booth and receive $1.00 or $5.00 tokens or scrips. Individual vendors can accept these tokens or scrips in place of cash for eligible products. At the end of the market, vendors redeem their tokens or scrip with the market manager for full dollar value.
Market managers will be asked to complete a farmers’ market EBT participation agreement and a service provider application. Farmers and vendors wanting to participate must also complete a participation agreement, to be submitted to the market manager.
For agreements and to apply, contact Diane Eggert at (315) 637-4690 (after being approved by the FNS). Visit http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/ebt-and-creditdebit-machines/ for more information.
For CSA Memberships:
Become licensed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), applying under the designation of retail merchant. Call the FNS to receive a paper application at (877) 823-4369 or apply online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/application-process.htm. Follow the same steps provided for farm stands or u-pick operations.
Note that members paying for CSA membership with EBT benefits may need to be provided with alternate payment schedules, such as paying on each pick-up date.
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (WIC and SFMNP)
The FMNP is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and provides free supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, as well as to infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk.
Additionally, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants to states, territories, and federally-recognized Indian tribal governments to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and CSA programs. For more information, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfmnp/senior-farmers-market-nutrition-program-sfmnp.
Farmers, farmers’ markets, and farm stands can be authorized by the State to accept and redeem FMNP coupons. For more information about FMNP, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/ and http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/fmnp/, or contact Darrel Aubertine () or Kevin King ().
Just Food’s Online Resource Center features additional tipsheets with information about FMNP, Food Stamps, and Health Bucks, available in English (http://justfood.org/farmer-outreach/online-resource-center) and Spanish (http://www.justfood.org/farmer-outreach/spanish-language-resources).