How do I process SNAP payments for my CSA?
Answer: By becoming SNAP authorized, you create an opportunity for low-income customers to have access to some of the best food around. SNAP customers can connect with the land on which their food is grown, as well as the people who grow it. You help put healthy, locally grown food on SNAP customers’ tables, as well as help build preparation and cooking skills they can use the rest of their lives.
Selecting SNAP processing equipment and a third-party service provider requires some research, and the cost should be included in the farm’s cash-flow expenses. The equipment can be set up to accept credit and debit cards and is much like the equipment you see at a grocery store checkout. To process a payment, you swipe the customer’s SNAP card, and the customer will enter the PIN on the terminal. Once the transaction is complete, a receipt is printed for the customer and another for your records. Some equipment options allow for the receipt to be sent through email or text message. Wired/wireless terminals that accept credit and debit cards are available from third-party vendors, but there is an additional expense.
For more information and options on SNAP processing equipment, see Appendix 1 of the ATTRA publication How to Accept SNAP Payments: A Guide for Montana CSA Farms.
Using Manual Vouchers
Sometimes equipment malfunctions, wireless-device batteries lose their charge, or you run into wireless connectivity issues. In these situations, it is good to have a backup plan to process the SNAP payment, and this is where vouchers are useful. A voucher is carbon-copy receipt provided by the point-of-sale terminal supplier. It is a way to record the transaction and provide a receipt to the SNAP customer at a staffed pick-up site.
The member gives you a SNAP card but instead of swiping it, you will make a call to an automated phone system. After you enter in your FNS number, the member’s SNAP card number, and purchase price, the system verifies the member has enough funds in their account and reserves them for you. This is called “voucher approval.” You make a record of the transaction on the voucher and give a copy to the member as the receipt.
Depending on your processor, you have 10 to 15 days to “clear the voucher.”
Clearing the voucher must be completed with a working terminal. If you are using a manual voucher because your terminal is malfunctioning, it is important to contact the State’s free EBT-only terminal provider or your chosen third-party processor to correct the issue. If you are unable to clear the voucher with a working terminal within the specified time, the held funds will be released back to the SNAP customer. For more information of voucher approval and clearing the voucher, see Appendix 2 of the ATTRA publication linked above.