Guidance on State Option Food Stamp Programs
The Fiscal Year 1997 Supplemental Appropriations Act (PL 105-18) gave states the option of purchasing federal food stamps for use in state-funded food assistance programs that provide nutrition assistance to legal immigrants and childless, able-bodied adults ineligible for the Food Stamp Program because of the three-month food stamp time limit. Below are guidelines states should observe when operating state-funded programs that utilize federal food stamps.
States that opt to purchase coupons to use in a state-run nutrition program must submit for approval a state plan to the Food and Consumer Service (FCS) describing the conditions and procedures under which federal coupons will be issued under the state system. The following information must be addressed in the state plan.
- Cash change is allowed only up to 99 cents in a transaction. For any amount due over 99 cents, the store must give $1 coupons.
- Except for $1 coupons, all coupons are to remain in the original food coupon booklet until they are used at the store check-out register for food stamp purchases.
- Sanctions, disqualifications, fines, or other penalties prescribed in federal law will apply to violations in connection with federal food stamp coupons issued under the state program. Federal laws pertaining to food stamp trafficking will apply to coupons purchased by the state for use in its nutrition program.
For states with consolidated reporting, reporting requirements for Sections I and II of the FNS-250 states will not be changed. Section III will be changed as follows:
- Lines 19 through 21: states should complete coupon inventory information using standard procedures through line 21 of the report. Line 21 is a calculated number which provides the total value of all coupons issued either under the regular program and under the state-funded optional program.
- Line 22: states should report ONLY total federal issuance on Line 22, i.e., the portion of benefits issued to recipients qualified under the federal Food Stamp Program. The value of coupons issued to state program participants shall be subtracted out.
- Line 23: Line 23 is a calculated number and represents the difference between line 21 actual issuance (inventory) and line 22 documented issuance . It includes any over-issuance or under-issuance for the federal portion of the FCS-250 and the state Food Stamp program issuance. To determine any state liability for the federal portion of the FCS-250 the amount (stated in the remarks section) of the state Food Stamp Program will be subtracted from line 23.
- Remarks: The final value of coupons issued under the state Food Stamp Program, certified by the state, for the FNS-250 reporting month, will need to be shown separately in this section. This is the amount that will be used for final monthly issuance reconciliations.
The FNS-250 Report will be entered into FSPIIS through normal procedures. The original report should be mailed to the FNS regional office. The regional office will fax a copy to the Program Information Division. This report is due within 45 calendar days after the last day of coupon issuance each month, but in any event should be mailed to reach the Food and Consumer Service by the 15th day of the second month following the last day of coupon issuance.
The SOFSP FNS-388 will be used to determine the amounts owed the Food and Consumer Service under the State Option program. In addition to state Food Stamp issuance the state must track and note in the remarks section all coupon returns and replacements and adjust certification records accordingly to insure:
- FNS is paid for replacement coupons issued to State-Option participants; and
- FNS is not paid for state-funded coupons that are returned in the mail and are unclaimed at the end of the period of intended use.
- FSI-4a "State Option FS Program", Coupon Issuance.
- FSI-4b "State Option FS Program", EBT Reports Not to be Submitted: The following reports are not required for submission for the State Option FS Program. Do Not include any State Option data when submitting these reports for the federal Food Stamp Program:
- FNS-46 Issuance Reconciliation Report
- FNS-101 Project Area Racial Report
- FNS-209 Status of Claims Against Households
- FNS-259 Food Stamp Mail Issuance Report
- FNS-366A Budget Projections Requests
- FNS-366B Program Activity Statement
- FNS-388A Project Area Issuance and Participation
- FNS-583 Employment and Training Program Report
- SF-269 Financial Status Report Food Stamp
NOTE: FNS plans to automate the state reporting process which will incorporate the use of electronic transmission of data. Details will be worked out by FNS and state staffs.
Costs for printing, shipping, and redeeming coupons will be redetermined yearly. In the first year of program operations, the cost for printing, shipping, and redeeming coupons will be $2,800 for every $1 million in coupons.
FNS has determined that the administrative cost to FNS of starting up the State Option FS Program will be $38,000. Ongoing FNS administrative costs for the first year of program operation will be $1,032 per month per state. Pending approval by our Office of the General Counsel and other Department officials, we will not require states to reimburse us for these costs.
The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.