Farmshed's EBT Transition: Helping vendors accept EBT, credit and debit cards directly!

Application & Resources for Vendors

Vendor Resources for the changing EBT program: 

Final Reports from the 2017 Research Project by the Regional Farmers Market Collaborative

Stevens Point Farmers Market Report
Wisconsin Rapids Farmers Market Report

The Story

Years ago, a technology gap was recognized when FoodShare money began being distributed via a card instead of a paper voucher.  Farmshed and Get Active Wood County (now Recreate Health) created a program in 2011 to fill the gap and help EBT/Foodshare participants access local products at area farmers’ markets, while at the same time helping farmers receive an additional source of income.  Since that time, Farmshed has annually sought out and coordinated resources to operate a centralized EBT machine and provide wooden tokens to connect participants to farmers market products.

Unfortunately, due to high administrative costs, low utilization by the community, and farmers reporting insignificant impact on their bottom line, Farmshed will be implementing theses changes to the EBT program:

Changes to the Wood County Farmers Market EBT program:

  • EBT cards WILL NOT be processed and tokens WILL NOT be distributed to EBT/Foodshare participants. EBT Customers will be encouraged to spend any tokens left over from last season, and vendors can still accept tokens.
  • Reimbursement for existing tokens will be provided by Farmshed.
    1. Tokens will be collected on the last Thursday of the month (July – October) and payments will be sent out by the 15th of the following month.
    2. Vendors – If you are not present the last Thursday, call Megan or Krista at (715) 544.6154 to set up an appointment to bring your tokens to Farmshed in Stevens Point.

Changes to the Stevens Point Farmers Market EBT program:

  • EBT cards will be processed and tokens will be distributed to EBT/Foodshare participants ONLY on the first Saturday of the month.
  • Reimbursement for tokens will be provided by Farmshed.
    1. Tokens will be collected on the first Saturday of the month (July – October) and payments will be sent out by the 15th of the following month.
    2. Vendors – If you are not present the first Saturday, call Megan or Krista at (715) 544.6154 to set up an appointment to bring your tokens to Farmshed in Stevens Point.

Please know that the decision to change the EBT program was not an easy one and we are are seeking out funding that would assist vendors with purchasing a personal Point of Sale (POS) device as well as possibly cover service fees and EBT, credit and debit card transaction fees for two years. Farmshed expects to receive notification from one possible source of funding, the Allen Foundation, in June and will continue to seek out additional funding opportunities.

We decided to pursue this alternative model after speaking to many people seeking to use cards at market as well as seeing numbers from the Iowa Wireless EBT Project, in which individual vendors have personal POS devices.  In 2017, the money that came in through POS devices in Iowa was 96.5% credit and debit and 3.5% EBT.  If Farmshed were to base that on ~$6,000 in EBT sales, that would mean the opportunity for an additional $165,428.57 to be spent in the local food economy with the addition of credit and debit.  While that spending ratio is not a sure thing for our region, it is a good indicator of the opportunity that accepting cards presents.

There are benefits to vendors using a personal POS device. These include the ability to:

  • Accept EBT, credit, and debit as additional forms of payment
  • Receive funds deposited directly into bank account (versus waiting for a monthly check)
  • Take the POS device anywhere to use – at market, on farm, at other events etc.

 

 

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