Becoming Certified to Accept Food Stamps
Becoming Certified to Accept SNAP
(Updated as of 4/6/2015)
There are two ways your CSA can accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits/EBT:
- Through your CSA Farmer- Talk with your CSA farmer and Just Food to find out if your farmer is authorized or would be interested in becoming authorized to accept SNAP. A farmer may use the same SNAP Permit for their Farm Stand and CSA.
If your CSA group and farmer would like to be authorized as a CSA, you may apply on line at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/application-process.htm or call the USDA, Food & Nutrition Service Retailer Service Center at 1-877-823-4369 to request a paper application or if you have questions and/or need assistance.
- Partnering with a Community Based Organization (CBO) - A neighborhood CBO such as a church, food pantry, or other social service agency that is familiar with SNAP procedures can also apply to accept SNAP on behalf of your CSA. There are multiple reasons to consider partnering with a CBO. Non-profit organizations with a 501 (c) 3 status are granted a waiver by the USDA to accept SNAP benefits 14 days in advance of a share pickup. CBO’s already have bank accounts and this could prove beneficial as SNAP reimbursements are transferred electronically. Partnering with a CBO could also provide an opportunity to further engage and forge new community relationships such as potential source of future members and an outlet to donate leftover produce from your CSA distributions.
It is important to note that each CSA farmer sponsored by a CBO must be assigned their own individual SNAP permit number. One SNAP permit from a CBO will not cover multiple CSA farmers.
For CSAs partnering with CBOs
Step 1. Call the USDA Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) at 877-472-8411 or check this list of local outreach programs to request an application.
Step 2. Complete the SNAP Application and include the following items (required items are bold):
Photo I.D. for all individuals listed under “Question 12” on the SNAP application
Verification of Social Security number (i.e. copy of Social Security card) for all individuals listed under “Question 12” on the SNAP application
Copy of the IRS Determination letter
Copy of the CSA Membership Agreement ( if available)
Step 3. Send the completed application and related paperwork listed above to:
SNAP Retailer Service Center
USDA –Food and Nutrition Service
PO BOX 14500
Washington, DC 20044
If your CSA has already been approved in the past, contact the USDA, Food & Nutrition Service at 877-823-4369 to verify that your SNAP Authorization Number is still active.
When a CBO agrees to handle the SNAP application for a CSA, they are the officers and are taking legal responsibility of that part of the program. The USDA, Food & Nutrition Service will hold the CBO responsible for all SNAP transactions related to the CSA, regardless of who actually performed the transaction (fills out the voucher and does the verification process). IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE CBO AGREEING TO BECOME CERTIFIED TO ACCEPT SNAP ON THE BEHALF OF THE CSA IS FULLY AWARE OF THEIR RESPOSNBILITY FOR THIS PIECE OF THE PROJECT.
Once approved, the CSA Farmer or Organization will receive their approval package within 14 days of approval.
Once approved, you can elect to utilize manual vouchers or an EBT terminal for SNAP processing.
For Manual Vouchers:
Direct marketing outlets such as CSAs and CBOs can still use and accept manual vouchers until further notice from the USDA.
You should get a USDA Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) Number and instructions in the mail on how to receive manual vouchers.
Fill out the voucher application as noted in the Toolkit- call or email Qiana at 212-645-9880 ext 244 or email@example.com if you need help.
If you do not receive the voucher information packet within 10 days of getting your FNS number, call 800-222-7757. Also call this number for voucher replenishment or questions with processing.
For EBT Terminals:
Please see tip sheet “ EBT Terminal Options for CSAs in NYC” if you are interested in securing an EBT Terminal to process SNAP at your CSA.
A CSA is able to accept a pre-payment in SNAP for the share up to 14 days in advance. It is advised that you start collecting the first payment two weeks in advance of the first distribution day so that you have some security for the possibility of losses. Also, it is recommended to create the policy that if a member paying with SNAP doesn’t show up for 2 weeks in a row, he or she forfeits the membership and you can then enlist one of the people on your waiting list. It is still the obligation of the CSA to be sure the farmer is paid in full for the total amount of shares delivered. These polices will help to keep the responsibility on the member.
The administrative fee included in the cost of a CSA share (if applicable) should not be included in the estimated gross sales. SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for the administrative fee; CSA members who wish to purchase their shares with SNAP must make a cash or check payment for the administrative fee.
SNAP can also be used to pay for additional food products that your CSA may offer, such as fruit, dairy, meat, but cannot be used to pay for non-edible products, such as flowers.