Accepting "Food Stamps" (EBT or SNAP)

I remember this subject in the past, but now sure how it turned out.

Anyone here accept “food stamps”? Any stories pro/con? I realize it can’t be accepted for cooked pizza, but onyl for take-and-bake.

I don’t think it would be a good idea. But yet, I’ve always wondered why people could not buy hot food on food stamps…because chances are, if they are on food stamps, they have a hard time keeping their utilities on as well, and maybe they need a hot pizza cause there’s nothing to cook it with at home.

Why don’t you think it would be a good idea?

Any place I have ever worked that offers food stamps acceptance along with also having hot foods gets a lot of “can I buy a can of anchovies” or “can I buy a bag of your pepperoni”,etc.

If it was clearly indicated that food stamps were for TNB only, that may be better. Otherwise, you’ll have people coming in doing that a lot.

I find it hard to imagine that I’d have a line of EBT customers wanting to buy 12.5lb bags of pepperoni. But, if I do, I’ll just tell them no. Or, maybe not - why wouldn’t I sell them a bag of pepperoni if I had one to sell? It’s an eligible item.

Any other reasons? The more I read about the program, the more it seems to be a reasonable thing to accept. The criteria for acceptance is no “hot food”. Just about anything I sell will qualify, even wings (pre-cooked) - they will just need to be baked in their oven just like I do.

This seems like a large untapped source of income. What am I missing?

That food stamp customers might not be a demographic that you want to market to, all things considered. Why would someone want to buy a bag of pepperoni or cans of anchovies, I can’t see them sitting down to eat those, or them being a common cooking item in households on EBT. What is far more likely is that they plan on selling the item for cash, in effect scamming the government, and they’ll scam you too given the chance. It seems like one of those things that might on the surface look like a good idea, untapped customer base and such, but when you figure in the cost of advertising that you accept EBT and then the hassles with the customers, it doesn’t seem like such a good strategy at all.

Ok, forget the bag of pepperoni. That’s not really what I’m talking about.

However, why wouldn’t I want to sell a TNB pizza and wings to a EBT customer? The grocery store next door does, and without problem.

What hassles will I have with these customer that I don’t already have with any other customer?

What will be the cost of advertising? Couldn’t I simply add that to my existing materials?

Not trying to argue, but just wondering exactly what you are thinking.

I’m certain that a good percentge of my customers are on food stamps as it is. Would they spend more with me if I took food stamps? Would I pick up additional customers?

Just outta curiosity, when accepting foodstamps, where, how, who, and how long does it take to redeem for cash?

It’s done electronically - swipe card, enter pin. Deposited in your account in 2 business days - exactly the same way credit cards are processed.

Very interesting. Thanks for the reply.

That’s one of the biggies with Papa Murphy’s. No sales tax and takes food stamps. Food stamps don’t have the stigma anymore with the EBT card. In Texas it is called the Lone Star Card. Unless someone is looking right at it, they would not know they were using it and not a debit card.

Good idea.

I’m actually curious if take and bake is even economical out of a full service restaurant. Papa Murphy’s competes on price, and can do so because they have less overhead (no ovens) less staff (no cooks or drivers) and lower space requirements (less rent) than a full service shop. If you are already paying for those things, making a TNB pizza won’t really cost you any less, and the customer will expect a discount for having to bake it at home. I also have to wonder if there is any greater liability involved in a TNB service, especially if you are offering something like uncooked chicken wings on the menu. If the customer doesn’t handle the food properly and makes themselves sick, will they sue you, and do you have to carry additional insurance to cover this possibility? Also, please tell me you’re not even thinking about delivering unbaked pizzas for EBT customers, you’d have a massive driver revolt on your hands in no time.

Taking all that into account, I also still think that food stamp users are not the best demographic to try to attract to your store. Think of it in terms of branding, if you’ve established your product as a quality item, what is the perception if you start selling it for food stamps? It would be like selling Versace at Walmart, yes they might sell some clothing, but they also might diminish the brand in the eyes of their existing customers, short term gain traded against long term value. What do you want people to think of when they see your logo; “Oh, that’s the place with the great pizza”, or “Oh, that’s the place that takes food stamps”?

Perception and branding are big elements in all sorts of decisions we make. EBT would be one of them. I am guessin there would be a conceptual struggle between having more and more of the customer base unemployed and receiving EBT benefits . . . and whether the stigma and paradigm of using EBT will have changed soon. Tricky dilemma when it could raise revenues without significant added overhead costs.

I don’t quite understand that line of thought. How does selling my product for food stamps change it’s perceived quality? Food stamp people will be paying the same price for the same product as cash customers.

Every grocery store in my area accept foodstamps - even the “gourmet” expensive ones. I don’t think they lose any customer because they accept food stamps.

Ever spent any length of time in a Social Security or DSHS office? It’s not a pleasant experience, and the kinds of people that you are going to attract by catering to that market could make your regular clientele a bit uncomfortable. It’s sort of like fashion, (I’m running out of analogies here…) your customers will make judgments on the quality of your brand partially based on who else is using it. Abercrombie and Fitch used to be a respectable men’s clothing house turning out custom suits, do you think anyone buying a custom suit wants to be associated with that brand today? Or think of FUBU, Ecko, South Pole, what is your impression of someone wearing those brands based on who usually wears them? It’s called “prole-shifting”, when a previously high end product goes downmarket (think Cognac). Sometimes it is to a brand’s advantage in greater sales (A&F), but often to it’s detriment when their original high end clientele abandon the brand (Burberry plaid).

Different market, it’s not unusual for a grocery store to accept food stamps, while you want to make it a selling point for your shop and advertise it. Also, most “gourmet” grocery stores have high prices on even the sundry items that the average food stamp recipient often purchases, so their stamps go much farther at the normal grocery store and they have no incentive to shop at the high end places.