FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has partnered with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) to provide eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with free electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment necessary to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Download a two-page handout on the Equipment Program and service provider options here.

WHAT
FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three years. After their application has been approved, eligible farmers and farmers markets will choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies: MarketLink, MerchantSource and PaymentSpring. Transaction fees (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit payments) will not be covered.

WHEN
Now! This is a first-come, first-serve opportunity, which will be over when all the funds have been allocated. Don’t wait!

HOW
Visit FMCtoolbox.org to fill out the online application. An email address, FNS number, the date of SNAP-authorization, contact information, and some general information about your farm or farmers market will be required. One application may be submitted per farmers market or direct marketing farmer.

WHO
SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers (who sell at one or more farmers markets) are eligible for funding if they:

A.  They do not currently possess functioning EBT equipment; OR
B.  They currently possess functioning EBT equipment, but received that  equipment before May 2, 2012.

How It Works

  1. APPLY: Go to FMCtoolbox.org to complete your application. You’ll need the following information:
    /  Contact information, including email address;
    /  A completed W9 form (use this link to download a PDF, or this one to complete the form online)
    /  Your farm’s or farmers market’s address;
    /  Your FNS number (from your SNAP License);
    /  If you’re a direct marketing farmer, you’ll need the name and address of at least one farmers market where you  participate as a vendor; If you’re a farmers market, you’ll need some general information about your market, including days of operation, estimated number of vendors and visitors, and the types of food available.
  1. GET APPROVED: After FMC confirms your eligibility with the USDA FNS, you’ll receive an approval email from FMC containing your FMC order number, and a link to info on participating SNAP EBT service providers.

  2. CHOOSE A SERVICE PROVIDER: Once you’ve chosen your preferred service provider, contact them directly to begin their sign-up process, and forward them you FMC approval email.

  3. SIGN-UP: Complete the paperwork that your service provider requires. After everything is in order, the service provider will send an invoice for equipment and services to FMC. Once FMC pays the invoice, the equipment provider will release the equipment directly to you.

  4. RECEIVE EQUIPMENT: Alert FMC via email when you have successfully received your equipment. Follow the directions provided by your service provider to activate your equipment and service. Start using your new equipment to accept SNAP!

  5. REPORT: At the end of the year, report your SNAP redemption and
    transaction totals to FMC. Completing the report is required in order to receive funding for the following year.

Participating Service Providers

Once approved for FMC’s Equipment program, you must select your preferred service provider. The providers participating in FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program are MarketLink, MerchantSource, and PaymentSpring. Finding the right SNAP EBT equipment and service provider requires some research. Like shopping for a cell phone, there are multiple providers, equipment options, types of service, and a range of fees to learn about before signing a contract. More information on the participating service providers is available online at bit.ly/ProviderGuide

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you define ‘farmers market’ and ‘direct marketing farmer?’
A: The USDA defines a farmers market as a fixed location where two or more farmer-producers sell agricultural goods they’ve produced (particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, but also meat products, dairy products, and grains) directly to consumers. Direct marketing farmers are farmer-producers that sell goods they’ve produced directly to consumers.

Q: What qualifies as not being in possession of functioning SNAP EBT equipment?
A: You are not in possession of functioning SNAP EBT equipment if:

  • You currently rely on manual/paper vouchers to accept SNAP,
  • You do not currently accept SNAP and have never possessed functioning SNAP EBT equipment, or
  • You do not currently accept SNAP because your EBT equipment cannot
    successfully process SNAP transactions. The EBT equipment is:
    /  Damaged beyond repair.
    /  Non-operational because your SNAP EBT service provider no longer offers SNAP EBT processing in your state.
    /  Stolen or lost.

Q: Does the point of contact on FMC’s application have to be the same person responsible for my market’s SNAP-authorization?
A: Yes. The person who received the SNAP License should be the same person applying for these funds. If a farmers market was authorized as an organization or government entity, then the person responsible for the SNAP program within that organization or entity must be the point of contact for this funding opportunity.

Q: Where do I find my FNS Number?
A:  Your FNS number appears on your SNAP permit. If you need assistance locating your FNS number, call this toll-free number for assistance: 1 (877) 823-4369.

Q: What costs can be covered by FMC’s program?
A: FMC can cover the costs of SNAP EBT equipment (including debit and credit functions), and service fees. Service fees vary between providers, but they typically include set up costs, monthly statement fees, and wireless fees. The costs of scrip systems (paper, ink, tokens, etc.), and fees to terminate an existing contract will not be covered.  Transaction fees are also not included, unless you choose PaymentSpring EBT-Only as your provider.

Q: If I’m approved, which SNAP EBT service providers can I choose from?
A: MarketLink, MerchantSource, TSYS or PaymentSpring. Learn more about the providers here: bit.ly/ProviderGuide

Q: What happens if my equipment is stolen?
A: If your equipment is stolen it can be replaced if proper documentation of the event is provided in the form of a police report.  The report should be filed within 3 days of the incident.  Please forward the police report to ebt@farmersmarketcoalition.org explaining what happened, and we will begin the process of replacing your equipment.

Q: What happens if my equipment is damaged beyond repair?
A: If your equipment is damaged, please reach out to your service provider immediately so they may diagnose and offer potential repairs.  If the service provider deems it “damaged beyond repair” please email ebt@farmersmarketcoalition.org and explain what happened.  These requests for replacement equipment will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What if my provider stops offering service?
A: If your equipment stops working because your provider stops offering service in your area, please let FMC know as soon as possible.  If you are still in the three-year contract term, FMC will set you up with a new provider that is able to offer service in your area.

Q: How do I get manual/paper vouchers? 
A: Marketlink/WorldPay includes manual vouchers in your initial welcome packet. If you use a different service provider or need additional vouchers, you may order some from FIS at this link: https://www.ebtedge.com/gov/portal/PortalHome.do.  Please note that although your current provider may not offer paper vouchers, they are required to be able to clear them.

Q: How do I contact my service provider?
A: The service providers can be reached using the information below:

  1. MarketLink/Novo Dia/WorldPay:
    1. Ricky Aviles (Novo Dia)
      ricky.aviles@novodiagroup.com
      (o) (512) 371-4134 ext. 3747
      (c) (512) 413-4287
    2. WorldPay
      (800) 859-5965.
  2. MerchantSource/Ignite Payments
    1. Kim Lyons
      (o) 1(800) 313-5198
      (c) (239) 246-7732
      KimL@merchantsource.com
  3. PaymentSpring
    1. Jason Butts
      (o) (402) 513-4573
      (c) (402) 720-7972
      Jason.Butts@PaymentSpring.com
    2. Mitch Treu
      (o) (402) 458-2248
      (c) (402) 212-9762
      mitch.Treu@paymentspring.com

Q: Define terms: payment processor, service provider 
A: Service Provider: This is your main equipment provider.  They are the ones who ship the equipment and who you should contact for technical support. FMC’s participating service providers are MarketLink, MerchantSource and PaymentSpring.
Payment Processor: This is the bank that completes the transactions for the service providers. Ex. WorldPay, Ignite Payments, etc.  Each Service Provider works with its own payment processor.

Q: No one is using SNAP at my market or stand. What can I do?  
A: Outreach ad promotion! Look for partner organizations in your area who work with SNAP beneficiaries. Use FMC’s SNAP Guide and at our resource library to find information on potential partners and promotion ideas.

Q: I applied but don’t know if I’ve been approved. How do I find out?
A: Search your inbox for an email from ebt@farmersmarketcoalition.org.  If you were approved, you should have received an approval email.  You may also log in to the toolbox or email ebt@farmersmarketcoaliton.org to view your application status.

Background Information

In Fiscal Year 2014, The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) was awarded a contract with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to assist in improving and expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets nationwide. FMC is collaborating with USDA FNS to administer grants for SNAP programming needs and wireless electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment.

As per the contract, the following objectives are being completed: (1) establish a process that FNS will use to award $3.3 million in support grants to eligible farmers markets, and (2) establish and implement a process to provide $700,000 in replacement SNAP EBT equipment and services to farmers markets and direct marketing farmers that are operating SNAP programs in situations of hardship. FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program is fulfilling objective two (2) of the contract.

Other SNAP EBT Equipment Resources for Farmers Markets

USDA FNS Support
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has provided multiple rounds of funding to expand the availability of wireless Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment in farmers markets. In Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), FNS provided $4 million to State SNAP agencies to expand the availability of SNAP EBT equipment in farmers markets not currently participating in SNAP. States with funds remaining are continuing to offer free SNAP EBT equipment to newly authorized markets and direct marketing farmers (those who became SNAP-authorized on or after November 18, 2011). Contact your State’s SNAP agency or farmers market association to learn more about this opportunity.

The following year (FY13), FNS awarded $4 million to the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), who were tasked with identifying and recruiting eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers to become SNAP-authorized, assisting them through that process, and providing them with equipment. To fulfill these tasks, NAFMNP created the MarketLink system. MarketLink offers smart device technology, used with a mobile application (app) called MobileMarket+. SNAP authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers can access MarketLink.org by applying to FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program.

Other Resources
Additionally, some states have allocated their own resources to help markets gain access to SNAP EBT equipment, cover service and transaction fees, and provide outreach. To see if your state is offering support for SNAP EBT at markets, take a look at FMC’s State by State Resource List. If you have updates to add to this list, send us an email at ebt@farmersmarketcoalition.org.

 

Questions?
Email: ebt@farmersmarketcoalition.org
Phone: (202) 650-9085