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.
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, PaymentSpring and TSYS. Transaction fees (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit payments) will not be covered.
Now! This is a first-come, first-serve opportunity, which will be over when all the funds have been allocated. Don’t wait!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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, PaymentSpring and TSYS. 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.
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 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. Transaction costs (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit transactions), the costs of scrip systems (paper, ink, tokens, etc.), and fees to terminate an existing contract will not be covered.
Q: If I’m approved, which SNAP EBT service providers can I choose from?
A: MarketLink, MerchantSource, and TSYS. Learn more about the providers here: bit.ly/ProviderGuide
Q: Can I still get an app-based SNAP EBT payment systems from MarketLink?
A: While MarketLink is no longer offering free equipment directly, you can choose to work with MarketLink as your preferred service provider through FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program. Just fill out the application, and once you’re approved, take your oder number to MarketLink.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: (202) 650-9085