104 Organizations sign on to FMC recommendations to USDA for improving SNAP at farmers markets

      Posted On: August 3, 2012

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth Comiskey

August 3, 2012

On August 1st, the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) submitted recommendations to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for improved implementation of resources to expand SNAP access in farmers markets.  The letter, signed onto by 104 organization, is in response to feedback about the 2012 allocation of $4,054,000 announced in May by FNS to expand the availability of point of sale terminals to farmers markets that are not currently participating in SNAP.

The Coalition, which represents more than 3,500 farmers markets, seeks to help USDA maximize the public return on investment by ensuring that farmers markets are equipped with the tools to succeed in implementing SNAP.  The series of eight intermediary and long-range recommendations are based on input from members as well as participants in the national Farmers Market EBT Working Group, which includes many state SNAP and WIC agencies, FNS staff, EBT contractors, equipment vendors, advocacy groups, and farmers markets organizations.

In a five page letter, FMC emphasized the need for the Food and Nutrition Service and its partners to:

  1. Create a specific SNAP retailer application for farmers markets that holds them accountable, aids in the improvement of data collection, and gives consumers accurate information about SNAP-accepting farmers market locations
  2.  Improve timing of funding announcement and allocation policies to allow state agencies to effectively reach out to farmers markets prior to the start of the spring season
  3. Require new language in SNAP EBT RFP proposals that makes the provision of wireless POS devices a mandatory part of SNAP agency contracts with EBT providers
  4. Allow administrative expenses that support partnerships with other agencies and organizations that can work effectively and efficiently with farmers markets on the ground
  5. Expand definition of allowable expenses to include targeted outreach that increases SNAP participant awareness of farmers market retail options
  6. Support all states’ existing farmers market models, including those that equip farmers themselves as retailers as well as those that operate mini-grant programs for farmers markets
  7.  Expand definition of qualified markets such that already-authorized markets using older technology can acquire updated technology with 2013 funds.  FMC states that “rapidly-changing technology means that standard POS terminals may not be the most cost effective in the future.”
  8. Ensure that other nutrition programs are proactively considered as technology evolves, in order to maximize effective use of technology for all nutrition programs, such as WIC Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Cash Value Benefits, and Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. “Planning and inter-state exchange of promising ideas must take place now, as WIC agencies move into the EBT arena, in order to maximize use of the equipment for all nutrition programs. FMC is willing to collaborate with federal and state agencies on the development of plans to integrate WIC and SNAP technology for most efficient implementation at farmers markets.”

The full letter of recommendations can be read on the Farmers Market Coalition web site here. Questions about the recommendations can be addressed to Jan Walters, FMC Policy Committee Chair, at jan.w@farmersmarketcoalition.org.