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Photo EBT Card: Survey for SNAP Clients and Advocates To Report Problems at the Check Out Line

MLRI was recently contacted by a SNAP recipient from Central Massachusetts hassled at the check out line at a local Honey Farms and denied a food purchase. Honey Farms is chain of convenience stores predominantly in Central MA.

The family receives SNAP and the EBT card has the mother's name and photo on it (they are not exempt from photo EBT). The father - a member of the SNAP household - stopped to make a purchase on the way home from work (during a recent snow storm). The check out clerk refused to let him use the EBT card, even though he had the card and knew the PIN. The clerk and store manager (by speaker phone) accused him of misusing the EBT card, and verbally demanded he leave the store, a conversation heard by other customers.

Frustrated and humiliated, he found information about photo EBT rights on line and called MLRI, In addition to recording his story, MLRI called the Honey Farms store manager to ask what the store's policy was for customers with EBT cards. The manager confirmed what the client said - that only the person pictured on the EBT card could shop with it. We reported this incident and our conversation to DTA Central. DTA staff promptly followed up with the store chain, confirming EBT policy that ALL household members can use the card, the PIN is the signature and stores cannot discriminate.

We hope this is an isolated incident, but we remain worried that SNAP clients may either

  • a) not know their rights, and/or,
  • b) the current climate may cause some store clerks to feel more emboldened in hassling low income persons.

Here is the weblink to our photo EBT webpage that explains the law, the exemptions and basic recipient rights: /content/snap-and-photo-ebt-cards-information-and-resources

Attached are two surveys:

  • For SNAP recipients to fill out (anonymously if they chose)

  • For Advocates who have heard of incidents  

Please share with your clients and let us know what you are hearing.  We would appreciate the feedback as we seek to protect low income households from inappropriate or discriminatory treatment at the check out line, or anywhere else.