Who Administers SNAP?
Option 1: Market-Operated SNAP Systems
Most farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits do so through a centralized POS device. That is, the market becomes an authorized retailer through FNS and owns or rents and operates a POS device to process SNAP EBT transactions on behalf of all of its vendors that sell SNAP-eligible items.
One thing for markets to keep in mind is FNS’s one machine-one location rule. Under this rule, market organizations that run more than one market must apply for separate FNS authorization for each market location and operate a different POS machine at each authorized market. (Note: there are some exceptions; for example, markets that move indoors for the winter. For a fuller explanation of the one machine-one location rule, click here.)
Markets using a centralized POS device must choose between two primary methods for administering SNAP sales:
Using market currency
- Customers swipe their SNAP EBT cards through the market’s POS device to purchase a market currency, like tokens.
- They use the market currency to buy SNAP-eligible food items from vendors.
- Vendors return the currency to the market for cash reimbursement.
Operating a receipt system
- A customer visits a vendor and identifies the SNAP-eligible food items he or she wants to purchase.
- The vendor gives the customer a receipt listing the total cost of those items.
- The customer takes the receipt to the market’s centralized POS device, pays that amount, and receives proof of payment.
- The customer returns to the vendor to show the proof of payment and pick up the purchased items.
To learn more about the mechanics and legal dimensions of using either a market currency or receipt system, explore the Equipment and Payment section.