Most of our stores are licensed to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards through state-issued machines. To those stores that are not licensed to carry these transactions, I highly recommend that they apply for participation in this program because in fiscal year 2011, state agencies issued approximately $71.8 billion in SNAP benefits, an increase of 10.98 percent from $64.7 billion in 2010.
These benefits were issued to a monthly average of 21.1 million households—or 44.7 million people—participating in the program, an increase of 10.92 percent from 40.30 million participants the previous year. The average monthly benefit was $133.85 per person, or $284.00 per household.
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 requires that EBT cards be the sole method of benefit delivery. EBT systems issue and redeem benefit-using cards, an electronic funds transfer network, and point of sale technology in authorized retail food stores. The federal government pays 100 percent of the benefits issued. In fiscal year 2012, over $74 billion in client benefits were redeemed in the over 246,000 in participating stores authorized to accept SNAP. Over the past five fiscal years, the number of authorized locations has increased by over 40 percent, and convenience stores rank second in participating retailers after supermarkets.
In the near future, the number of people who benefit from this program will not go down. That’s because legislation currently in the House and Senate that would adversely affect the SNAP program (included as amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill) will most likely be shot down—the House Farm Bill did not recently pass, and the Senate Farm Bill may meet the same fate. The Senate bill is actually more detrimental because it contains language that would prohibit stores from participating on the basis of their cigarette, tobacco, hot foods, alcohol, and other non-foods items sales—which includes 7-Eleven stores.
SEI’s EBT Integration is an easy process and a win-win situation for our guests and us. I have had it in my stores since May 2012, when instructions were first issued to integrate. SEI has issued instructions and now franchisees can call the Help Desk to go through the process.
Franchisees require a SNAP license or FNS number to be able to participate. Instructions are included in a recent e-mail sent to all stores at 7-Hub. SEI has issued a store list with their FNS numbers included in order to make the process easier. Please go through the instructions and call the Help Desk to complete the process if you have the FNS number. You can also find your FNS number by calling the USDA at 1-877-823-4369, extension 3.
You may follow this simple procedure: go to BackOffice, System Support, Network Configuration, and Electronic Benefits Activation. It will take a few seconds to go to next screen, enter the EBT Permit/FNS Number, then click OK. You are all set to accept EBT cards on your pin pads. To process a purchase, scan all the items, hit pin pad payment, the customer swipes the EBT card and enters the pin number, and then the transaction is complete. For mixed merchandise transactions, please ask the customer to swipe the EBT card first, then accept cash or swipe the credit/debit card to complete the transaction.
SEI’s EBT Integration leads to faster transactions than state-issued machines, and better transaction records. Both pin pads in our stores accept EBT cards, so now you have two points to accept EBT cards and the reaction time to replace pin pads is less than the time taken to replace state-issued machines. Old machines must be returned to avoid extra charges, and you have to save receipts issued by UPS or FEDEX for six months as proof. Please call the toll free number provided by banks for old machines and they will mail a shipment label to your store.
EBT Integration is another good step taken by our franchise partner to improve technology to enhance our business.