Vermont Farmers Market EBT and Debit Cards Project
EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) Cards are debit cards bearing the value of food or cash in federal program benefits. They have taken the place of paper food stamps, generating a necessity for businesses to have a greater technological capacity to accept food stamps, i.e. the need for an electronic card service machine.
Informal points of sale such as direct markets - farmstands and farmers markets - are conveniently accessible, provide nutritious foods and support local economies. However, the majority of these locations are not outfitted with any form of card service machine, whether for EBT, Debit or Credit cards. The use of EBT cards benefits both the consumer and the vendor(s), by allowing consumers receiving federal financial support to purchase from local markets, which expands the customer base for vendors. Additionally, card service machines at farmers market have the capacity to accept debit cards, further increasing the opportunity for sales by eliminating the need for consumers to have cash on-hand (particularly useful for capturing tourist dollars).
States throughout the nation have implemented programs for introducing the use of EBT and Debit cards within farmers markets. The Vermont Farmers Market EBT and Debit Cards Project is a collaborative effort of Hunger Free Vermont, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and Vermont Department for Children and Families that has helped farmers markets develop EBT and debit card service since 2007.
Opportunities for Vermont
Vermont receives over $11 million per month in food benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). In Vermont, the SNAP program is called 3SquaresVT. The Vermont Farmers Market EBT and Debit Cards Project helps recipients of the federal Food Stamp Program a support the state’s agricultural community and to obtain the highest quality of foods.
Increasing 3SquaresVT purchases at farmers markets allows small farmers to capture more of these federal resources. 3SquaresVT recipients also benefit, not only because they can purchase locally grown foods, but also because benefits can be used to purchase vegetable starts, honey, meats, dairy or maple products, and prepared foods such as cider or pickles.
Each Vermont farmers market participating in the Project is equipped with a card service machine that accepts EBT, Debit and/or Credit. This increases the opportunity for fresh produce and other local products to be purchased by limited-income Vermonters and for markets to improve overall sales from an improved consumer base. This increase in potential consumers promotes the success of the market, while improving the incomes of market vendors. Overall, the expected result of EBT and Debit availability at Vermont’s farmers markets is a growth of local economy and an option for low-income individuals and families to shop with their neighboring farmers rather than national retail chains.
What Markets Participate?
For a complete list of participating farmers' markets, farmstands, CSA programs, and other retail stores, please visit vermontfoodhelp.com.
This project is made possible with the help and cooperation of our project partners, listed below.
Daniel McDevitt - EBT Director, Vermont Department for Children and FamiliesDaniel.McDevitt@state.vt.us, (802) 769-6096
Mary Carlson- Food and Nutrition Program Coordinator, Vermont Department for Children and Families Mary.firstname.lastname@example.org, (802) 769-6264
Drake Turner - Adult Nutrition Initiatives Manager, Hunger Free VT
email@example.com, (802) 865-0255
Abbey Willard- Local Foods Administrator, Vermont Agency of AgricultureAbbey.Willard@state.vt.us, (802) 272-2885
Over half of Vermont Farmers' Markets accept EBT and Debit Cards!
For consumers looking to find out more about an EBT market near you, please dial 2-1-1 or visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com.
For EBT markets seeking resources, please contact Erin Buckwalter with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-434-4122. For information on Crop Cash, please contact Mike Good at email@example.com, 802-434-4122.
Resources for EBT and Debit Cards at Markets:
EBT and Incentive Program Webinar
On May 7, 2014, we recorded a webinar with updates for VT EBT Farmers' Markets and the Harvest Health Coupon program for the 2014 season. Although the information on the Health Health Coupon Program is no longer relevant, we discussed the Outreach Toolkit (2014) developed by Hunger Free Vermont and how markets can use it to promote EBT at their market. To watch the webinar, click here.
Vendor and Market Training Materials:
- Market Day Operations Guide: EBT & Debit Services
- Understanding Market Tokens for Vendors
- Market Currency Cheat Sheet - For Managers and vendors to understand the differences between $1 and $5 tokens, Farm to Family Coupons, and Crop Cash
- Using EBT to Purchase Seeds/Plants Handout - A handout to use at your markets to let your customers know they can use their EBT card to purchase seeds/plants to grow their own herbs and vegetables.
Budget Tracking Materials:
- Transaction Log Workbook - This excel document includes the Daily Transaction Log, Vendor Reimbursement Log and Market Summary Sheet, plus basic directions for how to use the sheets.
- Vendor Gross Sales Tracking (with Alternative Currencies)
Double Value Coupon Incentive Program
- Looking for information on Crop Cash? Click HERE
- EBT Farmers' Market Outreach Toolkit - This outreach toolkit, created by Hunger Free Vermont, shares best practices gleaned for one summer intern's work promoting EBT at 3 markets where EBT sales subsequently increased 35-65%!
- Sample Email to Community Leaders and Elected Officials - This document is part of the EBT Farmers' Market Outreach Toolkit and has can be downloaded separatey for easy editing to use for your market.
- Sample Local Outreach Article - This document is part of the EBT Farmers' Market Outreach Toolkit and has can be downloaded separatey for easy editing to use for your market.
- Sample Local Outreach Flyer - This publisher document is part of the EBT Farmers' Market Outreach Toolkit and has can be downloaded separatey for easy editing to use for your market. Note: You must have publisher on your computer to edit this document.
- Promoting Your Farmers Market to EBT Customers - Looking for some ideas for how to promote EBT at your market. This handout, created by Angela Smith-Dieng at Hunger Free VT will provide you with some ideas!
- EBT Promotional Poster - 8 1/2 x 11 or 11 x 17
- "We Accept $5 Tokens" (Debit) Vendor Sign
- "We Accept $1 & $5 Tokens" (EBT & Debit) Vendor Sign
- Most VT markets get wooden tokens from Maple Landmark in Middlebury. If you participate in the Vermont Farmers' Market EBT and Debit Cards Grant, they have your artwork on file.
- Most VT markets use Efunds/FIS to process their wireless transactions. If you have a question about your machine's functionality, call: 1800-558-6980 x3422.
- Media Release Guide- A guide to creating a media release.
- Press Release Guide- A sample article for Farmers' Markets to use to draft a press release about EBT acceptance.
- Community Action Agencies- A list of state wide community action agencies.
- 3SquaresVT- For more information on 3SquaresVT.
- How to Speak to Potential EBT Customers about Your Market
- Vermont EBT at Farmers Markets Fact Sheet
- 2013 Market Currency Feasibilty Report: This study funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant and completed by Independent Farmers Market Researcher Darlene Wolnik studied both the feasibility of merging various food benefit programs and incentive coupons with the card technology systems that currently allow farmers markets to accept credit, debit and EBT cards, and feasibility of adopting a different technology option for processing EBT at Vermont farmers markets.
- SNAP/EBT at Your Farmers Market: Seven Steps to Success: This guide, from the Project for Public Spaces, explains why and how to set up and support EBT acceptance at your farmers' market.
- SNAP - Putting Healthy Food Within Reach: This guide has been prepared by the USDA - FNS to help improve 3SquaresVT/SNAP participation. It has excellent guidance around proven language and outreach strategies.
- Real Food Real Choice: This guide from Community Food Security Coaltion and Farmers Market Coalition explores policy recommendations to strengthen EBT sales at farmers' markets.
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