« Back to Feeding the Poor

What is SNAP/EBT?

Written by Colleen Hanlon-Smith | Published on March 4, 2013
The content that follows was originally published on the Maine Farmers' Markets website at http://www.mainefarmersmarkets.org/market-members/what-is-snap-ebt/

SNAP – What is that?

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federally funded government program which has traditionally been know as “food stamps”.

EBT, or Electronic Benefit Transfer, is the method in which SNAP funds are given to the recipient. Each month additional funds are electronically added to an EBT card which works similar to a debit card.

In Maine, EBT benefits are linked to the Pine Tree Card, are then processed using the QUEST network.

Eligible  Food Items
Products that ARE eligible for purchase with EBT: Baked goods, breads and cereals; jams, jellies, pickles, honey, maple syrup; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; cheeses, eggs, dairy products; seeds and vegetable plants which will produce food to eat; edible pumpkins, cider.

Products that ARE NOT eligible for purchase with EBT: Pet foods;  soaps, cosmetics, paper products; animal fleece, yarns; crafts; prepared hot foods; vitamins and medicines; live animals; inedible gourds or pumpkins used for decorations; any food that is “individually” packaged; flowers; inedible plants.

SNAP/EBT Glossary

EIN – Employer’s Identification Number, functions in many ways like a Social Security Number for a business or an organization. To apply for accepting EBT, you must provide either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Employer’s Identification Number. You do not need to have employees to obtain an EIN. You can apply for an EIN here External website icon .

FINI – The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program was part of the 2014 USDA Farm Bill, and made funding available to incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP customers. The USDA approved a proposal from the Maine Local Food Access Network (of which MFFM is a part) to provide incentive funding to about 30 Maine farmers’ markets (as well as farm stands and CSA programs) for the 2015-2017 market seasons.

FNS – Food and Nutrition Services, the department of the United States Department of Agriculture that facilitates the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as other food assistance benefits redeemed at farmers’ markets

SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal benefit program run by the United States Department of Agriculture that provides vouchers for food to low-income people

EBT – Electronic Benefit Transfers, the system that allows SNAP benefits to be redeemed via an electronic card similar to a debit card

MarketLink – A USDA subsidized EBT service provider providing relatively low-cost service and subsidized equipment to farmers and farmers’ markets.

Pine Tree Card – In Maine, EBT benefits are linked to the Pine Tree Card

POS Terminal – Point of Sale terminal that can accept EBT cards; some POS terminals can also accept credit and/or debit cards

Quest – EBT cards are processed using the Quest network, which is similar to a credit/debit card processor.

Scrip – The paper receipt, wooden or plastic token given to a SNAP customer after they swipe their EBT card; can be used like cash at the market in exchange for appropriate food items

Wired EBT Terminal – POS terminal that requires electricity and a phone line to operate; can be used with a Manual EBT Voucher system when there is not immediate access to electricity and a phone line

Wireless EBT Terminal – Hand held POS terminal that can be operated without a phone line where there is cellular coverage

Manual EBT Voucher – A carbon copy form signed by the EBT cardholder that allows market management to accept EBT benefits through telephone verification; used most often with markets that have a wired terminal but no immediate access to electricity/phone line or when wireless terminals are not operational

Third Party Processor (TPP) – A fee-for-service company that provides POS terminals and transaction services; there are many TPPs and markets are encouraged to “shop around” before settling on the right TPP