Farmers' Markets are increasingly offering electronic transaction services on site. These electronic card services allow shoppers to use their debit, credit, and/or food stamp (SNAP) electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to make market purchases. Every farmers' market has different needs, clients, and vendors. In order to assist you in choosing whether or not to accept SNAP (in Oregon this is the Oregon Trail Card) at your market, we have provided information to help guide your decision. Improving the access to healthy food for lower-income customers and increasing revenue for farmers is one of the many benefits of this program.
What is EBT?
Every state in the nation has replaced paper food stamp coupons with a federally mandated Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. Food stamp recipients now use this electronic “debit” card system instead of the old-style “paper coupons” to purchase food. In Oregon, this is the Oregon Trail Card.
What is SNAP?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps to put food on the table for millions of people through the US. It provides low-income households with electronic benefits that they can use like cash at most grocery stores and participating farmers' markets. SNAP is the cornerstone of the Federal food assistance program, and provides crucial support to households experiencing food insecurity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers SNAP at the Federal level through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). State agencies administer the program at State and local levels, including determination of eligibility and allotments, and distribution of benefits.
What options are there for supporting SNAP at Farmers' Markets?
A farmers' market can apply to the USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) to become authorized as a 'SNAP retailer' and then provide alternative currency (scrip or tokens) for use by SNAP customers at any approved vendor stall at the market. This is the first step – becoming approved as a “merchant” through the USDA/FNS office.
Alternatively, an individual farm stand, farm business or farmer can apply to FNS to be certified as a SNAP vendor at a farm stand or farmers' market.
This information is provided by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council through the USDA Farmers Market Promotion and Program Grant and in coordination with Suzanne Briggs. For more information contact Laura Wendel.