Want to Start Accepting SNAP at Your Farmers Market?
Here is what you need to know and how you can prepare. First, your market will need an FNS #.
What is an FNS#?
- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) number is an identification number that will allow your market to accept SNAP. Without it, you cannot accept SNAP at your market. Once you apply and get approved you will receive a SNAP permit that will include your own unique 7-digit authorization number.
Things to Have Before Starting the Application
- Have banking details ready. If you do not have a bank account make sure to create one.
- Gather all the following supporting documents and important information before starting your application. This will save you a lot of time and energy.
Here is a checklist that can help:
- Recent tax forms in case you filed taxes for your Farmers Market.
- Estimated retail sales. If unknown the USDA recommends calculating $250/vendor multiplied by the number of market days per year.
- Bank account (account and routing #)
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- A designated responsible person: this person will be responsible for signing documents. This person will also be responsible for any legal consequences. It is crucial to find a responsible person.
- driver license
- business license
- Social Security card
- responsible person address or PO Box assigned to the FM
- ProTip: Different farmers markets have shared that they resort to using PO Box addresses because it avoids important documents not being accessible in the case that the responsible person changes. Correspondence would be mailed to the designated FM PO Box.
Now it is Time to Start the Application
- This application takes ≈15 mins – 1 hour to complete.
- If your market chooses to apply for the MarketLink grant to fund your EBT equipment, you can schedule a call with a MarketLink regional representative, who will submit and monitor your FNS application for you.
- Start by creating and activating your USDA account.
- Then begin the application process by clicking “Sign In” here.
- The application process will guide you step-by-step
- Make sure to complete your application within 30 days of starting it to avoid losing your progress. You will have to start the application over again after 30 days.
- Once you are done, you should hear back about your application in between 2-8 weeks. This is an approximate time and it varies depending on your application. It is important to make sure to check your application status regularly. FNS may reach out to ask for extra supporting documents.
Planning Ahead and Things to Consider
You may ask yourself “what can I do while I wait after submitting my application?” Here are some things that you can do, consider and/or plan while you wait.
- Make sure to consider possible expenses. These depend on your market and what works best for you.
- Plan to make a one time expenditure for tokens/scrip that are custom to your market and difficult to replicate. This can be anywhere from $100 to $300.
- It is suggested your market appoints a person to SNAP. Consider appointing a consistent volunteer or hiring a part-time employee assigned to SNAP for your market days.
- You will need signage. For example, you’ll want a sign at your booth where shoppers come to redeem SNAP to get tokens and signs at entrances and vendors booths. This can cost anywhere from $40-$1,000 depending on how many signs you need, how big they make them, and what material they are.
- Be prepared to get funding or cover the cost of EBT equipment. EBT equipment is a one-time cost of about $1,200 plus service fees if they apply. (This cost can vary).
- MarketLink is a grant program that can help markets get a free Bluetooth EBT card reader and a free year of TotilPay Go payment processing software.
- Consult with board members, vendors, and supporters about transitioning to accept SNAP.
- Develop an accounting system for tracking SNAP sales and vendor reimbursements.
You Now Have an FNS #
- Make sure you have a system that works for YOU. For example, this includes an accounting system for tracking SNAP sales and vendor reimbursements.
- If you have not yet made purchases that you may need, make sure you make those with plenty of time before you begin accepting SNAP at your market.
- For example, if you are using the tokens for SNAP shoppers to use at the market you will need to design and order the tokens.
- Think about what SNAP/EBT signs you want at your market.
- Familiarize yourself with your local SNAP shoppers and create a welcoming market. You can take the course How to Create a Welcoming Farmers Market for SNAP Shoppers at TXFED.org to learn more about how to create a welcoming and safe space for SNAP shoppers.
- Prepare to start promoting that you accept SNAP. You can include the SNAP logo on your website and signage. Many farmers markets create social media posts about how to use SNAP and that they accept the Lone Star Card at the farmers market.
Get Your EBT Equipment and Software and Set It Up
- You will need to get funding or cover the cost of EBT equipment. EBT equipment is a one-time cost of about $1,200. (This cost can vary).
- Most common EBT setup used by Farmers Markets is TotilPay Go by Nova Dia group. You can visit the webpage to learn more about their services and options. MarketLink offers a grant for free EBT equipment for one year. You can also Reach out to us to learn about current funding options for your EBT equipment or email TX Health & Human Services directly at EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us.
- Once you get your equipment you should set it up and become familiar with it. Explore the options and learn about the equipment you are using.
- For example, the TotilPay Go app has a feature that lets you practice inputting card information to make a transaction. You can practice making a transaction to help you get comfortable with the equipment.
- Remember, you have support. If you are having a difficult time with your new equipment make sure to contact your equipment’s technology services to help. You can also contact us if you need assistance locating these services.
Congrats you can now start accepting SNAP at your Farmers Market!
Texas Center for Local Food Wants to Uplift and Support Your Efforts!
- At TCLF we have Farmers Market Specialists that can help you with the process of obtaining an FNS # and with each step after. Reach out to us for additional detail and support.
- Please reference our FAQ for additional information about this process.
Additional Guides to Reference
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP.