Are You Eligible for a FREE EBT Machine From Your State?

By: Jen O'Brien       Posted On: May 31, 2013

In May of 2012, the USDA announced new grant funding through the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012 to increase SNAP access at farmers markets. $4 million was appropriated for the purchase or rental of a wireless device and related SNAP fees for markets.The purpose of the funds is to increase the availability of point-of-sale (POS) equipment in farmers markets not currently participating in SNAP. These are two-year funds, and will be available until September 30, 2013.

The USDA funds can be used to cover the purchase price or rental fees of a wireless POS device, a one-time account setup/application fee, and monthly wireless fees (necessary to operate SNAP on the device). Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transaction fees, cost of tokens, signage, and promotional materials are not eligible to be covered by the funds. Devices purchased or rented with federal funds may also accept commercial debit/credit cards.

The money has been allocated to states based on the number of farmers markets in the state not participating in SNAP. States are not required to use the funds, and some states have denied the assistance. As of May 10, 2013, Alaska is the only state that has used all of its funds.

Previously, the funds were only available to farmers markets. In May of 2013, USDA announced that the funds would also be made available to individual farmers if the farmer participates in a market that does not currently offer SNAP access.

Earlier this month, FMC hosted a webinar in partnership with Wholesome Wave titled, ‘USDA’s $4 Million Appropriation for EBT at Farmers Markets: Are you eligible to receive a free EBT machine from your state? Last year’s results, this year’s changes and your questions for FNS.’

Jen O’Brien discussed the results of FMC’s EBT survey to members, which highlighted some of the barriers that markets experienced in obtaining the USDA funds. Rogelio Carrasco of the USDA’s Food And Nutrition Service (FNS) outlined the changes to the funding, and answered many questions from participants. Based on the webinar, we’ve created an info sheet with guidance on how to obtain the funds and clarifications regarding eligibility and process.

The info sheet, webinar recording, and the webinar slideshow are now accessible on our Information Marketplace Webinars page.

We are very happy that many state SNAP representatives were able to attend the webinar. Please feel free to share the resources with your representatives and community.