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To be eligible as a store in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), your store(s) must sell food for home preparation and consumption and meet one of the criteria below:

(A) Offer for sale, on a continuous basis, at least three varieties of qualifying foods in each of the following four staple food groups, with perishable foods in at least two of the categories:
   meat, poultry or fish
   bread or cereal
   vegetables or fruits
   dairy products

(B) More than one-half (50%) of the total dollar amount of all retail sales (food, nonfood, gas and services) sold in the store must be from the sale of eligible staple foods.


Continuous basis means that on any given day of operation, a store must offer for sale and normally display in a public area, qualifying staple food items, with no fewer than three different varieties of food items in each of the four staple food categories.

Perishable foods are items that are either frozen staple food items; or, fresh, un-refrigerated or refrigerated staple food items that will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks.

Variety means different types of foods, such as apples, cabbage and squash in the fruit or vegetable category; or, milk, cheese and butter in the dairy category. The following does not meet the variety requirement: having different brands and sizes; having the same item but with varying ingredients (e.g., plain sausage and spicy sausage); or having the same item but offering different types of the item (e.g., Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples). Food items with multiple eligible ingredients (e.g., pizza, frozen dinners) will be counted only once as a staple food, in the category of the main ingredient.

Retail sales include all retail sales of the firm including food, non-food, gas and services (such as rental fees, games, dry cleaners, lottery). However, fees directly connected to the processing of staple foods such as raw meat, poultry, and fish may be calculated as staple food sales under Criterion B.

Staple foods do not include accessory foods such as coffee; tea; cocoa; soda; non-carbonated drinks such as sports drinks, punches, and flavored waters; candy; condiments; spices; hot foods; or, foods ready to go or made to take out, like prepared sandwiches or salads.

*NOTE: Ineligible firms include, but are not limited to, stores selling only accessory foods or ice cream, specialty doughnut shops, and restaurants (i.e. firms with more than 50 percent of their total gross retail sales in hot and/or cold prepared foods not intended for home preparation and consumption shall not qualify for participation as retail food stores under Criterion A or B). This includes firms that primarily sell prepared foods that are consumed on the premises or sold for carryout.

Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system in the United States (and elsewhere [1]) that allows government's states benefits departments to issue money, accessible via a plastic debit card.

Common benefits (in the United States) provided via EBT are typically of two general categories: Food and cash benefits. Food benefits are federally authorized benefits that can be used only to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages. Food benefits are distributed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program. Cash benefits include state general assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and refugee benefits.

Through EBT, a recipient uses his/her EBT card to make purchases at participating retailers. Food-stamp benefits can only be used to purchase food items authorized by the USDA's SNAP program. Cash benefits may be used to purchase any item at a participating retailer, as well as to obtain cash-back or make a cash withdrawal from a participating ATM.

State agencies work with contractors to procure their own EBT systems for delivery of SNAP and other state-administered benefit programs. In the United States, all SNAP benefits are now being issued via EBT.

For example, in the SNAP program, recipients apply for their benefits in the usual way, by filling out a form at their local food stamp office. Once eligibility and level of benefits have been determined, information is transferred to the state's EBT contractor and an account is established in the participant's name, and SNAP benefits are deposited electronically in the account each month. A plastic debit card, similar to a bank card, is issued and a personal identification number (PIN) is assigned or chosen by the recipient to give access to the account. Recipients are offered the opportunity to change the PIN at any time, and are offered ongoing training if they have any problems accessing the system.

All states have systems that use magnetic stripe cards and "on-line" authorization of transactions. When paying for groceries, the SNAP customer's card is run through an electronic reader or a point of sale terminal (POS), and the recipient enters the secret PIN to access the food stamp account. Then, electronically, the processor verifies the PIN and the account balance, and sends an authorization or denial back to the retailer. The recipient's account is then debited for the amount of the purchase, and the retailer's account is credited. No cash money changes hands. Payment is made to the retailer through a ACH settlement process at the end of the business day. Most states' online EBT systems are interoperable through the Quest network, which is sponsored by the Electronic Benefits and Services Council (formerly the EBT Council) of NACHA.

Many states stagger the issuing of benefits to EBT SNAP accounts with the actual day of the month determined for each recipient based on their case number, social security number, or date of birth. The states of Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont along with Guam and the US Virgin Islands credit accounts on the first of the month to all recipients, New Hampshire credits on the 5th, and South Dakota on the 10th.[2]

For most of its history, the Food Stamp Program actually used paper-denominated stamps or coupons worth US$1 (brown), $5 (blue), and $10 (green). In the late 1990s, the food-stamp program was revamped and actual stamps were phased out in favor of a specialized debit-card system known as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) provided by private contractors. Many states merged the use of the EBT card for public-assistance welfare programs as well. The 2008 farm bill renamed the Food Stamp Program as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (as of October 2008), and replaced all references to "stamp" or "coupon" in federal law to "card" or "EBT."[3]

By knowing the facts about your Golden State Advantage Card, or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card, you can get ALL of your cash benefits each month and pay NO surcharges or transaction fees!

Your cash EBT can be used:
■To make purchases
■To make purchases and receive cash back
■To make cash-only withdrawals
■To purchase money orders

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer)



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