Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) & Harvest Health

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 erin@nofavt.org, 802-434-4122.  For the Harvest Health Coupon Program, please contact Michael Good at michael@nofavt.org, 802-434-4122.

Resources for EBT and Debit Cards at Markets: 

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.  We also discussed the new Outreach Toolkit 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:

Budget Tracking Materials:

Harvest Health Coupon Program Materials:

  • Note:  We just recieved funding from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program to grow this program but are in the process of making some changes to comply with the federal funding requirements.  Program details will be released in late May or early June.  For questions about the program, please contact Michael Good at michael@nofavt.org, 802-434-4122.

Promotional Materials:

  • 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.

Outreach Materials:

Resource Guides:
  • 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.

Project Background

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 a cardservice machine.

Informal points of sale such as the direct markets of farmstands and farmers’ markets are conveniently accessible, provide nutritious foods and support local economies. However, the majority of these locations are not outfitted with cardservice machines whether for EBT, Debit or Credit cards. The use of EBT cards benefits both the consumer and the supplier; those with lower incomes are able to purchase from local markets and the customer base at the markets expands. With a cardservice machine a farmers’ market would also have the opportunity to accept debit cards, further increasing the overall sales as customers can spend a greater amount than their cash on hand.

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 equipped with a cardservice machine that accepts EBT, Debit and/or Credit has the ability of many benefits. This increases the opportunity in providing fresh produce and local products to low-income Vermonters and the opportunity for each market to improve overall sales, increasing the success of the market and the weekly incomes of the vendors. Overall, the expected result of EBT and Debit used 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.

Project Partners

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 Families Daniel.McDevitt@state.vt.us, (802) 769-6096

Mary Carlson- Food and Nutrition Program Coordinator, Vermont Department for Children and Families Mary.carlson@state.vt.us, (802) 769-6264

Angela Smith-Dieng - 3SquaresVT Advocacy Manager, Hunger Free VT
Asmith-dieng@hungerfreevt.org, (802) 865-0255

Abbey Willard- Local Foods Administrator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Abbey.Willard@state.vt.us, (802) 272-2885