Also referred to as “EBT” and formerly known as “food stamps,” SNAP benefits are now accepted at about half of the farmers’ markets in New Mexico. SNAP can be used at participating farmers’ markets just like at the grocery store for items such as fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads, jams, and other foods.
Though SNAP benefits are contained on a card similar to a debit card, many New Mexico farmers’ markets are able to accept SNAP cards through a centralized wireless terminal using their own market currency. Simply swipe your EBT card at the terminal located at the market’s information booth and decide how much you would like to have withdrawn from your account. The person at the information table will give you the amount you asked for in $1 tokens that can be spent on any eligible foods at the market. To find out which markets accept EBT cards, visit our Find a Market page.
Eligibility & How to Apply
SNAP is available for anyone who meets the income requirements. You can apply through the Human Services Department online or through the mail here. You will need the following documents to complete your application:
- Proof of household income;
- A photo ID for the person filing the application;
- A SSN for all household members for whom you are applying for benefits, and
- One of the following from the past 12 months:
- Highest gas or electric bill for 30 day’s of service,
- Account history printout from a propane company, or receipts for two propane fills with the fewest days in between,
- A receipt for a wood purchase, or
- A disconnect notice, if you have received one, or the cost of starting utility service at your home.
For more information about SNAP and other income assistance programs available in New Mexico, visit www.hsd.state.nm.us or call the help-line at (800) 432-6217.
Information for Vendors
What types of foods can be sold in the program?
SNAP benefits may be used to purchase any food item that is meant to be prepared at home. Examples of eligible items include fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, meats, honey, and some processed foods. Foods that are hot and/or meant to be eaten on site such as hot burritos or coffee are not eligible.
Many markets that accept SNAP can also process debit cards so that shoppers who have brought cash to the market can make purchases. Debit tokens come in $5 increments and look different from SNAP tokens. Debit tokens may be used to purchase anything in the market, and change may be given.
How do I become an approved vendor?
Individual markets must apply for a license through Food Nutrition Services (FNS) in order to accept SNAP, but individual vendors do not need to do so. Some markets may require vendors to sign an agreement. Talk to your market manager to learn more about how your market participates in the program.
How do I accept the tokens?
Each market uses their own unique currency in the form of wooden tokens with the individual market name printed on it. Before accepting tokens, make sure that they are for the market that you sell at. The exception to this is in Albuquerque, where all city markets can accept a common currency and Grant County, which also has its own currency for all markets in the county.
Change cannot be given to SNAP customers ($1 tokens printed in red), so customers must spend in whole dollar increments. Debit customers ($5 tokens printed in green) may be given change.
How do I get reimbursed?
Each individual market does reimbursements individually, but in most cases farmers are reimbursed either by cash or check the same day or the following week. Check with your market manager for details.
Accept FMNP checks at Your Market
Thanks to wireless technology, farmers’ markets have the capacity to help increase the access of low-income individuals to the healthiest, best-tasting food available and increase the income of New Mexico’s small-scale farmers. Once you accept SNAP at your market, you’ll also be eligible to participate in our grant-funded Double Up Food Bucks Program, an incentive program that can greatly increase attendance at your market.
Should I consider accepting SNAP at my market?
This depends. Here are a few questions to consider while deciding whether this is a good option for your market:
- Is there a large demand for it in my community? Look up your county’s current SNAP participation rate
- Does my market have enough produce to meet the added demand? What about variety?
- Does my market have the staff capability? Keep in mind that in addition to having a person dedicated to serving SNAP customers on site at market, the program also requires staff time for record-keeping, banking, reimbursing vendors, and promotion.
Are there costs associated with accepting SNAP benefits?
Currently farmers’ markets in New Mexico are very fortunate to have their EBT terminals and fees subsidized by the New Mexico Human Services Department. Additionally, the NMFMA can provide the customized wooden tokens that are used as market currency. If markets decide to accept debit cards, they will incur transaction fees, which may be charged to debit customers. The market is responsible for providing staff as well as promotional materials, banners, and supplies.
How do I get started?
- Apply for an FNS license to accept SNAP here. Keep in mind that unless your market is operated by a government entity (such as a municipality), the application requires a social security number from the person responsible for the program, as well as that of their spouse, if married.
- Acquire your EBT terminal and receive training on how to use it. Once your FNS application has been approved, you will be contacted about the terminal and training. If your market does not already have a bank account, you will need to establish one before getting your terminal.
- Contact NMFMA staff at email@example.com or (505) 983-4010 to have us order your tokens for your market currency. You will need to decide whether you would like to be able to accept debit cards as well.
- If you don’t already have a bank account for your market, you will need to set one up in order to have the electronic transfers deposited into your account.
What can be purchased with SNAP?
SNAP can be used to purchase any food item that is meant to be prepared at home, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, breads, honey, edible plant starts (vegetable and herb), and other foods. No hot foods or ready-to-eat foods that are meant to be eaten on-site may be purchased with SNAP.
How does the market currency system work?
SNAP customers will come to a centralized place in the market (usually the market’s information booth) to swipe their card for whatever whole-dollar amount of currency they would like using the wireless EBT terminal. The manager then gives the customer an equivalent number of $1 EBT tokens. Vendors may not give change to SNAP customers, so they must spend in whole-dollar increments. The customer then spends the tokens with vendors, and those vendors submit tokens back to the manager for reimbursement.
Debit tokens come in $5 increments, and vendors may give change back. Debit tokens may be used to purchase anything (including non-food items) in the market. Because the market is charged a transaction fee for debit customers, we recommend that markets charge a convenience fee to their debit customers. Markets may not charge a fee to SNAP customers.
Except for in the city of Albuquerque and in Grant County, each market uses its own customized tokens and cannot accept tokens from other markets.
How do I promote my market to SNAP customers?
It may take time for local SNAP customers to find out that they can use their benefits at your market. Here are a few ideas:
- Make sure you have plenty of signage at the market about SNAP.
- Educate your vendors about the program so that they can tell customers about it. Provide vendors with signage for their booths.
- Make sure to include information about SNAP in all of your regular market promotions and advertising.
- Visit your local NM Income Support Division office and inform the staff about your market now accepting benefits. Bring along posters and flyers in case they will let you post them.
- Seek out local organizations that provide services to low-income residents and recruit them in your outreach efforts.
- Contact local papers and other publications to inquire if they will write a story about your new program.
Who do I contact to get more information about accepting SNAP at my market?