The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. In fact, SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) works with key stakeholders in every state to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits.
In Vermont, SNAP is called 3SquaresVT and provides over $9 million in nutrition relief to over 82,000 Vermonters every month.
How are SNAP benefits used?
SNAP benefits are deposited on EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) Cards. EBT cards act as debit cards, bearing the value of food or cash from federal program benefit programs. 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.
In Vermont, the EBT card is better known as Vermont Express.
Can 3SquaresVT benefits be used at farmers markets or other direct markets?
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 and other direct markets.