Accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at your farmers market helps ensure that customers from all economic backgrounds are able to afford to shop at their local farmers’ market. Today more and more farmers markets are redeeming SNAP EBT benefits providing beneficiaries increased access to fresh, unprocessed local fruits and vegetables. By accepting alternate forms of payment such as SNAP EBT along with the WIC and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks, farmers markets are creating welcoming environments where everyone – young and old – regardless of budget constraints, will feel comfortable to shop.
SNAP households receive an EBT card, which operates like a debit card to buy food at stores and farmers markets or roadside stand(s) authorized to take SNAP benefits. The customer swipes the card in a Point-of-Sale device (POS) at the store and enters a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). The clerk enters the exact amount of the food purchase on the POS. This amount is deducted from the household’s EBT SNAP account and credited within two banking days to the retailer’s bank account. All transactions are electronically processed and recorded. USDA has access to records of all transactions, including the date, time, and dollar amount, on all terminals.
The most common method for redeeming SNAP benefits at farmers markets is the central POS system where the farmers market registers with FNS to operate a central POS terminal for all participating vendors. Customers redeeming SNAP benefits swipe their EBT card at a central location at the market and receive tokens or paper scrip which they spend like cash for eligible food at the market. Payment is electronically transferred directly into the market’s bank account. The Market management distributes payments for vendors and assumes responsibility for accounting and reporting requirements.
Alternatively, the individual POS system allows individual farmers or vendors to manage their own SNAP redemption by obtaining their own FNS permit; purchase/lease their own POS terminal; and independently accept SNAP benefits at their booth. With this system the customer swipes their card at the vendors booth and the sale is completed. Payments are directly deposited in the vendor’s bank account and there is very limited reporting required.
Building your audience base
It is important to let your shoppers know that your farmers market accepts SNAP EBT and marketing materials are necessary.
Any food including fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, honey, cheese, maple syrup, dairy, eggs, baked goods, jellies, jams, mushrooms, juice, culinary herbs and other pickled and processed foods. You can also buy seeds and plants used to grow foods.