A key strength of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is its structure as an entitlement program that utilizes regular channels of commerce through public and private partnerships. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, authorizes food retailers to accept SNAP benefits. SNAP customers then redeem those benefits by using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) debit cards at authorized stores. This makes SNAP a cost-effective means for government to get food assistance to needy people. It also means that SNAP customers can shop where and how other customers shop for their groceries. And it means SNAP can respond quickly to increased need, whether due to economic downturns or natural disasters.