A Store Owner's Guide to EBT Stocking Criteria

Understanding EBT stocking requirements for SNAP

As a business owner, understanding SNAP stocking requirements can be difficult. To ensure SNAP recipients have ample access to staple foods, the Food and Nutrition Services requires that SNAP retailers stock a specific selection of items.

This resource will help you understand how to get started with accepting EBT sales at your store. Keep reading to learn how convenience stores, small grocers and other retailers can meet the SNAP stocking requirements.

How to Meet Stocking Requirements for SNAP Eligibility

According to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), SNAP authorized stores must meet one of two staple food requirements:

Criterion A – staple food inventory


Criterion B – staple food sales

Staple foods are the basic food that make up a significant portion of a person’s diet and do not include prepared foods, heated foods or accessory foods (food items that complement meals). Staple foods can be divided into four categories:

  1. Vegetables or fruits
  2. Dairy products
  3. Meat, poultry or fish
  4. Breads or cereals
EBT Processing | goEBT - EBT, Credit/Debit Processor

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Criterion A

Most convenience stores, small grocers and other retailers are authorized under Criterion A. Under Criterion A, a store must have 3 stocking units of 3 different varieties for each staple food category on a continuous basis.

  • This is a total of 36 foods that must be stocked at any given time.
  • For 2 staple food categories, there also must be at least 1 perishable variety.

For most convenience stores, these requirements might be difficult to meet because of the perishable variety requirement in two categories. Fortunately, there are a number of products available that can easily be added to your merchandise list that will satisfy the requirements.

Explore the dropdown section below to see examples of FNS approved foods for each staple category. Items with an asterisk (*) are perishable.

Check out the SNAP Staple Foods guide from FNS to see more examples of staple foods from each category!

  • Vegetables or fruits
    • Potatoes*
    • Frozen tater tots*
    • 100% orange juice*
    • Fresh oranges*
    • Canned tomato soup
    • Dried apples
    • Pre-cut apple go-packs*
    • Fresh bananas*
    • Pre-cut and bagged romaine lettuce*
    • Canned pineapple rings
  • Dairy products
    • Fresh deli sliced cheese*
    • Packaged grated parmesan cheese
    • Whole milk*
    • Refrigerated almond milk*
    • Shelf-stable almond milk
    • Fresh salted butter*
    • Margarine*
    • Fresh whole milk vanilla yogurt*
  • Meat, poultry or fish
    • Fresh deli-sliced turkey*
    • Fresh chicken cutlets*
    • Frozen chicken nuggets*
    • Fresh ground beef*
    • Beef jerky
    • Canned albacore tuna fish
    • Fresh sliced ham*
    • Fresh chicken eggs*
  • Breads or cereals
    • A loaf of multigrain bread*
    • Dried pasta
    • Corn or flour tortillas*
    • Plain bagels*
    • Rice- or oat-based cereal
    • Frozen dinner rolls*
    • Hot dog buns*
    • A bag of rice
    • Whole wheat pita*

What might this look like for your store?

FNS Reauthorization Categories | goEBT - EBT, Credit/Debit Processor

Criterion B

Under Criterion B, a store must have more than 50% of its total gross retail sales from the sale of staple foods. Most convenience stores do not fit under this model, as specialty stores are more commonly authorized under Criterion B.

Need help determining if your store qualifies to accept EBT? Take the goEBT SNAP quiz now.