A new provision mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill, requires most Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers to lease or purchase EBT equipment and services through their chosen service provider as soon as possible. This replaces the free services they previously used, and must be done no later than Sept. 21.

Those retailers who do not switch will no longer be able to accept SNAP customers.

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.

A small number of SNAP-authorized entities, including military commissaries, group living arrangements, meal services (with the exception of restaurants participating in state-option restaurant programs), non-profit food buying cooperatives and farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers, are exempt from these requirements, but the vast majority of retailers must obtain their own equipment and services by the deadline.

More information about exempted retailers and options for non-exempt retailers is available at: www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt.

Prior to this legislation, authorized retailers could receive free SNAP EBT equipment from the states. Less than half of SNAP authorized retailers currently use free EBT equipment. Many SNAP retailers can add SNAP services to existing commercial point-of-sale equipment.