Offer SNAP Online as a Payment Method for CSA Shares

Offer SNAP Online as a Payment Method for CSA Shares

We know that farmers want to easily accept SNAP benefits for CSA shares and to sell food directly to consumers. Customers also welcome this option. However, due to USDA regulations and the practical difficulty of using SNAP benefits to pay for a season-long subscription, only standard products on GrownBy can be marked as SNAP-eligible. CSA share subscriptions with up-front payment, monthly installments, or even weekly installments cannot be purchased using SNAP Online. 

We recommend one of these two methods of incorporating SNAP as an online payment method for CSA shares:

Option 1: Advance Orders of Single-Pickup Shares with Pay per Pickup

If a Standard Product is assigned to a Schedule(s) with available future pickup dates, and the option to Only allow Next Day purchases is not selected (see screenshot), then shoppers can order that product in advance for any of those future pickup dates. By using this advance ordering feature, shoppers can simulate purchasing a full-season share by purchasing a standard product representing a single CSA pickup for every week of the season. At checkout, shoppers will have the option of paying for the full order upfront or paying per pickup. Shoppers that want to pay with their EBT cards online will need to select ‘pay per pickup’ at checkout. 

On the shopper’s end, the order flow looks like this:

Step 1: Choose a standard product that represents a share for a single pickup:

Step 2: Choose the pickup location:

Step 3: Select all of the available pickups at that location:

Step 4: Select ‘Per-pickup Payments’ at checkout:

When ‘Per-pickup Payments’ is selected, GrownBy will charge for the first pickup at the time of order, then will email the customer invoices on each of the future pickup dates. These invoices can be paid online using an EBT card (if the purchase is eligible) or a credit card.

Note: A farm admin can also create these orders; see this article for instructions.

Option 2: Process SNAP Online Orders in the Dashboard

If you prefer to build your CSA using only GrownBy’s share-type products, but still want to allow customers to pay for their shares online with their EBT cards, you may prefer this method over Option 1. 

With Option 2, the shopper’s experience is straightforward: to join your CSA, they will purchase their preferred share from your GrownBy shop. However, instead of paying at the time of order, they should choose ‘Pay Offline’ at checkout. 

You must have Offline Payments enabled in the Payments & EBT page of your dashboard. You can also add an Offline Payment message to explain the EBT payments process to your customers. The message you enter in your dashboard will appear when the customer selects Offline payment at checkout. 

You now have a couple extra steps to perform in the dashboard to allow this customer to pay for their share online with an EBT card. Here’s why: because shares cannot be marked as SNAP-eligible products, you need to create an SNAP-eligible standard product, then order it on behalf of the customer(s) that want to pay with EBT/SNAP online. The following workflow will accomplish that while keeping these options hidden from your customers.

Here’s the workflow:

Step 1: Make a Private CSA Group.

Step 2: Create a SNAP-eligible standard product that represents a single pickup in your CSA. The price should match the per-pickup price for your CSA or, if you have a discounted rate for members using SNAP benefits, it can represent that. The schedule(s) should match your CSA schedule(s). Assign this product to the Private CSA Group you created in Step 1, and mark it to only show on CSA pages. (Refer to the Private CSA Group help article for instructions.) This step creates a SNAP-eligible product that’s hidden from your shoppers but available for you to add to an order from your dashboard.

Note: To prevent future confusion, be thoughtful about naming this product. The product name will show up on your distribution reports, but you’ll want to ignore it there because the customer will also show up on the report as picking up a share. The product name will also show up on your customers’ invoices, so don’t use something that you wouldn’t want them to see.

Step 3: Go to the customer’s account in your dashboard, and navigate to the Invoices section. Mark the invoice associated with their CSA share purchase as ‘void’. Voiding invalidates the invoice but keeps the order intact.

Step 4: From the same customer’s account, navigate to the ‘New Order’ button at the top of the page. Search for the hidden product you created in Step 2, and place an order for every pickup date in the schedule. Select ‘Per-pickup Payments’ and ‘Send invoice to customer’ then place the order. This will send your customer invoices for each CSA pickup, which they can pay online with their EBT card or a credit card. The first pickup’s invoice will be sent immediately, and future pickups will be automatically invoiced on the day of the pickup.

Besides the extra work upfront for the farmer, Option 2 may require some additional maintenance related to vacation weeks. If you allow CSA members to take vacation weeks on their share, when a customer uses a vacation week, GrownBy will automatically add Farm Credit to their account in the amount of one pickup’s price. For CSA members that have been set up to pay with EBT/SNAP online, you will want to: 1) deduct this Farm Credit from their account, and 2) cancel the order associated with the SNAP-eligible standard product that represents a single pickup in your CSA for that pickup. You will receive an email notification whenever a customer schedules a vacation week. Option 2 also creates additional notifications for your customers using EBT, since GrownBy will send them pickup reminders for the CSA share they ordered as well as for the standard product that you ordered for them on a recurring basis.

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