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Retail Store Eligibility USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Last Published: 03/21/2016

To be eligible as a store in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), your store(s) must sell food for home preparation and consumption and meet one of the criteria below:

(A) Offer for sale, on a continuous basis, at least three varieties of qualifying foods in each of the following four staple food groups, with perishable foods in at least two of the categories:  

  • meat, poultry or fish  
  • bread or cereal  
  • vegetables or fruits  
  • dairy products      


(B) More than one-half (50%) of the total dollar amount of all retail sales (food, nonfood, gas and services) sold in the store must be from the sale of eligible staple foods.


Continuous basis means that on any given day of operation, a store must offer for sale and normally display in a public area, qualifying staple food items, with no fewer than three different varieties of food items in each of the four staple food categories.

Perishable foods are items that are either frozen staple food items; or, fresh, un-refrigerated or refrigerated staple food items that will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks.

Variety means different types of foods, such as apples, cabbage and squash in the fruit or vegetable category; or, milk, cheese and butter in the dairy category. The following does not meet the variety requirement: having different brands and sizes; having the same item but with varying ingredients (e.g., plain sausage and spicy sausage); or having the same item but offering different types of the item (e.g., Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples). Food items with multiple eligible ingredients (e.g., pizza, frozen dinners) will be counted only once as a staple food, in the category of the main ingredient.

Retail sales include all retail sales of the firm including food, non-food, gas and services (such as rental fees, games, dry cleaners, lottery). However, fees directly connected to the processing of staple foods such as raw meat, poultry, and fish may be calculated as staple food sales under Criterion B.

Staple foods do not include accessory foods such as coffee; tea; cocoa; soda; non-carbonated drinks such as sports drinks, punches, and flavored waters; candy; condiments; spices; hot foods; or, foods ready to go or made to take out, like prepared sandwiches or salads.

*NOTE: Ineligible firms include, but are not limited to, stores selling only accessory foods or ice cream, specialty doughnut shops, and restaurants (i.e. firms with more than 50 percent of their total gross retail sales in hot and/or cold prepared foods not intended for home preparation and consumption shall not qualify for participation as retail food stores under Criterion A or B). This includes firms that primarily sell prepared foods that are consumed on the premises or sold for carryout.

Eligible Food Items

Click here for more information to determine the eligibility of a product for purchase with SNAP benefits.