Alternative Currency: Wooden Tokens and Paper Scrip

 When a market utilizes a card reader for debit and SNAP transactions, it will invest in a market-specific scrip or token for shoppers to use at the market with their money. This allows all vendors to benefit from one card reader, and ensures that funds withdrawn using the card reader are used at market. Farmers trade in their tokens to the market manager who reimburses them. The scrip must not be easily counterfeited. For paper scrip, non-photocopy-able paper is required. Sequenced serial numbers on all scrip is strongly advised.

The market manager or a board member is responsible to train farmers in scrip redemption rules and procedures. (The market is responsible for any violations a farmer commits while operating under the market’s FNS license.) Make sure to adhere to any reporting and timeline requirements identified by the State FNS Office. Scrip rules as defined by the USDA can be found here.

Wooden Tokens
Wooden tokens are simply wooden coins that are imprinted with the market’s logo and a set denomination, usually $1, $5, or $10. These tokens can ONLY be used at the market.  In addition, they also can be used as gifts. Two suppliers are: and Kardwell International.

In order to differentiate between SNAP tokens and Debit/Credit tokens, markets commonly use different colors for the different tokens. SNAP tokens may only be used for SNAP eligible food items and cannot be used to purchase hot, prepared food or other non-food items.  Vendor education and sufficient token differentiation is necessary to ensure shoppers and vendors are aware of the differences.

An example token setup:

$1 SNAP Token (RED)
Only for SNAP customers; eligible food items only, no change can be given by the vendor with these tokens.

$5 Debit Tokens (BLUE)
Debit tokens can be used by anyone; vendors are able to give change with these tokens. They are treated like cash.

Wooden Token Storage Container, click here for an image