EBT Equipment In State SNAP Contracts

In addition to providing revenue directly to farmers, ranchers, and small food businesses, farmers markets have become the linchpin of some of America’s most successful nutrition and anti-hunger initiatives. However, markets cannot welcome SNAP shoppers or implement federal nutrition programs if they are unable to access the equipment necessary to complete SNAP transactions. With support from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program provides SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment and three years of service funds to eligible markets and farmers. FMC is pleased to offer a variety of equipment options to participants, allowing markets to select the best equipment, wireless cell provider and payment processor for their market’s unique needs. However, the Equipment Program is dependent on annual funding within the USDA budget. Markets and farmers need consistent, guaranteed access to equipment and service in the long term, so that they may invest in the outreach, promotion, and partnerships required to ensure the success of SNAP programs.  

The Agricultural Act of 2014 gave the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to exempt farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets from the requirement that SNAP retailers must purchase their own point-of-sale devices. Last year, USDA sent a letter to state SNAP administrators, strongly urging all 50 states to include no-cost, EBT-only wireless equipment into their state’s EBT contract and take advantage of a 50% federal administrative funding match. Some state farmers market associations have been urging their states to act on this authority. 

FMC recommends that state farmers market associations contact their state’s Department of Health and urge them to include no cost EBT equipment in their state SNAP contract.

How does the process work?

States submit a request for proposals (RFP) and solicit bids from EBT service providers. A list of states, their current service providers, and the date of each state’s contract’s expiration can be found here. Some states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and California have included a provision in their RFP’s for no cost EBT equipment for farmers markets. In most instances, EBT service providers charge state health departments on a per-device rate ranging from $35-$55 per month. This is comprehensive flat fee and includes the cost of equipment and service.

Advocacy

While some states have lept at the opportunity to offer their farmers markets no-cost EBT equipment, state health departments are often unaware of the importance of this issue, and need to be reminded by their state’s farmers markets. This letter, written to the Michigan Department of Human Services by the Michigan Farmers Market Association and the Fair Food Network is an excellent template to work from.

Sample State SNAP RFP Language:

When discussing the issue with your state health department, it can be helpful to share sample RFP language from states that have already included no-cost EBT equipment into their state SNAP contact. Sample RFP language can be found below:

Mississippi

California

South Carolina

If you’re interested in learning more about including a no-cost EBT equipment option in your state’s SNAP contract, or connecting with farmers market leaders in other states working on this issue, please contact Alex Canepa at alex@farmersmarketcoalition.org.