Online SNAP for Farmers Markets, other Farm Direct Sites and Direct Marketing Farms
Welcome to FMC’s homepage for online SNAP. We know you have a lot of questions up in the air regarding online SNAP and how it affects market(s) in your region. When is it coming? Will I be able to offer it to my market?
We will keep you updated as we learn more – some updates will be related to the online SNAP RFA, which has to do with funds allocated by congress specifically for supporting the development of online SNAP solutions in the farmers market sector. Other updates may have to do with FNS updates on legality of farmers markets as FNS authorized online SNAP operators, and the latest information on which states are in the pilot program.
In addition to this page, we will share updates with Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) Grantees, our members, and our Listservs. In the meantime, check out our blog post about online SNAP at markets, and send your questions to email@example.com.
Current Update: USDA-FNS’s SNAP Online for Farmers and Farmers Market Request for Application is now open! FNS announces, through a Request for Applications (RFA), the availability of a maximum of $4 million to be used over a maximum of four (4) years for award as cooperative agreement(s) with up to five non-profit organizations (eligible entities) to build out functionality, and provide assistance to Direct Marketing Farmers and Farmers’ Markets (DMFs/FMs) to accept SNAP benefits through online transactions.
Early May, 2021 | Funding for Online SNAP RFA: FNS hosted a listening session regarding the needs and challenges anticipated by Farmers and Markets as they explore opportunities related to SNAP online purchasing on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
Many farmers markets, network leaders, direct marketing farms, and tech companies across the country were invited, and participated by sharing their concerns and hopes for the RFA.
During this two-hour session and follow-up, FNS sought to understand:
- the areas of technical assistance that will be most in need (e.g., managing online inventory, processing weighed items, and staffing related to other backend responsibilities);
- whether curbside pickup will be the predominant method of fulfillment, or if farmers/markets are thinking about delivery and shipping;
- the reporting that farmers/markets would want from the platform; and other areas that are of most concern to farmers/markets that are considering entry to SNAP online purchasing.
Concerns articulated by the direct marketing sector ranged from having an online SNAP solution that integrates to their existing online platforms (such as Local Food Marketplace, WhatsGood, etc.), and others about the importance of the market manager as an organizer and facilitator of the marketplace.
The listening session was led by Marcus Hambrick of USDA-FNS, who has been a great relationship builder with the farmers market community and lead the session with transparency.
Late May, 2021 | FMC Letter to FNS Regarding Online SNAP RFA
In addition to providing feedback as part of the listening session FMC provided written feedback directly to FNS, which included feedback from markets across the country. Key points include:
- Avoid approaching the RFP with a one-size-fits-all approach:
- encourage organizations applying to either (1) support multiple options as platforms, or (2) support one particular solution that is compatible across multiple platforms, rather than set up exclusive agreements with particular companies.
- Prioritize platforms and/or solutions that can offer the Farm Direct sector long term sustainability.
- Prioritize collaborative, transparent approaches to developing and releasing technology.
- Encourage the RFP to focus on the support role that markets and farmers need, understanding that the specific support that farmers markets will need as markets will be very different from farmers. RFP should highlight multiple priorities —
- Work with direct marketing farmers by providing admin support for platform, FNS retailer authorization, and related activities.
- Work with farmers markets – carefully advising potential sites based on readiness
- Analysis/Assessment of all of the above to share knowledge across networks.
- Evaluate the potential grantees on their ability to integrate into existing market/farm business infrastructure rather than require investment in additional SNAP processing equipment, prioritize online SNAP solutions that would eliminate the need for specialized SNAP processing equipment for onsite sales.
- The ability to process nutrition incentives as part of online transactions