What’s all this alphabet soup … SNAP, FNS, EBT?


Sometimes it feels like we need a secret decoder ring to make sense of all of the acronyms that exist in today’s world!  But, thankfully, when it comes to food assistance, all of these mean the same thing – extra grocery dollars to help you buy more food, healthier food.

Here’s the long and short of it:

  •  SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – the name that the federal government uses for this benefit program.  Previously this program was known as food stamps, but books of stamps and the name itself were discontinued several years ago.  SNAP is used most often – on storefronts, in grocery store flyers, and in marketing.
  •  FNS stands for Food and Nutrition Services – the name that North Carolina uses for these same benefits.  You’ll hear this when you apply for benefits at your county’s Department of Social Services (DSS).
  •  EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer card – the plastic benefit card that you use at a grocery checkout to pay for your eligible foods.  This card looks like, and is used like, a debit card.  You’ll also see “EBT” on store windows and in self-checkout lanes to let you know that your benefits can be used there.

So, SNAP = FNS = EBT = More food, healthier food!

Thanks to revbean (Flickr) for the alphabet soup photograph.