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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new proposal addressing photo identification requirements for electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would bring about change the retail industry can support — as long as it comes with education.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, and SIGMA: America's Leading Fuel Marketers said the goals of "this proposed rule — to ensure that state photo EBT requirements do not hinder access to the SNAP program — are commendable and important."
However, the associations pointed out that the goals can only be met if the photo requirements "do not create confusion, hinder the ability of retailers to participate in the program, or place unnecessary hurdles in the way of beneficiaries who want to use their benefits."
According to NACS, states are currently allowed to require photographs of one or more members of the beneficiary's household on a SNAP EBT card. Under the new proposal, released in January, before a state can implement a photo requirement, it must submit an implementation plan laying out the specific steps it will take to ensure compliance with the regulations.
The implementation plan, NACS explained, must include information regarding how a state will reach out to and educate SNAP retailers to ensure those retailers understand the statutory requirements associated with the photo EBT cards.
In addition, the USDA would have to approve a state's plan before a state could implement a photo requirement. The administration will also perform ongoing oversight of any state plan.
In the letter addressed to Undersecretary Kevin Concannon, the associations explained how NACS members have "experienced firsthand the confusion photo EBT requirements cause retailers" and the resulting problems for SNAP beneficiaries.
NACS emphasized the importance of retailer education and urged USDA to require that states communicate with retailers about photo EBT requirements on a quarterly basis.
"Our members' stores play an integral role in the program, and we wish to see the program operate efficiently for both retailers and recipients," they concluded in the letter.