An important first step in starting a farmers’ market SNAP program is to choose a merchant service provider and device to process EBT payments (and credit/debit payments, if desired).
We’ve prepared a series of articles to help you best navigate how to acquire EBT equipment for your SNAP program. Start with this link if you are new to SNAP at farmers’ markets, or would like to get caught up to speed on what’s available.
Option 1) FFAP – Farm Food Access Program: EBT-Only FREE Equipment. This equipment can only process SNAP/EBT – no credit or debit. Through a collaboration of Maine DACF and DHHS, farmers are reimbursed for the cost of the equipment. You’ll receive reimbursement for your monthly fees on a quarterly basis. Click here for the program home page.
Option 2) MFFM’s Free EBT Equipment Program. Can process credit/debit/SNAP-EBT. MFFM buys the equipment, your market pay for monthly fees ($20-$40/month). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Option 3) Other Equipment Options:
MarketLink – free wireless EBT equipment from a national program. This equipment requires the market to have access to a smart-phone or tablet with data.
The Farmers’ Market Coalition offers a great resource in all the considerations to take into account when shopping for EBT equipment for your market. They also list 2 additional EBT equipment providers that have experience with farmers’ markets.
MFFM has compiled a list of EBT equipment providers. Follow this link for more information and a comparison chart of available options (updated 10/2018).
Maine DHHS will reimburse markets for their certain monthly costs associated with operating EBT equipment. Learn more here.
These are big decisions! Plan & Strategize:
Discuss among market staff / vendors / volunteers how to best structure and promote your EBT/SNAP program. Decide who will be the point person for the market’s EBT/SNAP program and who will take on the various tasks involved in operating a successful program (central transaction booth, record-keeping, promotion, etc.). There’s no need to reinvent the wheel! Get in touch with us at MFFM (SNAP@mffm.org), check out our annual workshops, and learn from these resources:
- USDA FNS SNAP at Farmers’ Markets FAQ
- FMC’s SNAP Guide for Farmers’ Markets online resources
- SNAP/EBT at your farmers’ market: 7 Steps to Success (Project for Public Spaces & Wholesome Wave)
- Report on Farmers’ Markets & Low-income Communities
- Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets SNAP & Maine Harvest Bucks presentation
- “Market Quest Toolkit – A Marketing Guide and Toolkit for Maine Farmers’ Markets Accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer” (This resource was created by the Downeast Business Alliance in 2010 and is now a bit out of date. However, it still contains much useful information.)