The thing that makes this lengthy and complex process rewarding is that there are so many helpful people who want to see it happen. Let me just say that I heart Sandy Vanneman at the Dept. of Social Services soooo much. She’s one of those people who really want to make good things happen, and will take the time to call you back, answer your questions, be patient and friendly. Bless that woman.
There are options for both wireless and wired (land-line connected) EBT machines for use at farmers markets. The wireless machine sounds great because it allows us to accept debit cards with PIN as well as food stamp purchases, and how often do we have customers who show up with just a little cash and not wanting to write a check? That happens a lot at our market.
But the wireless set-up costs $1250 per year, plus 25 cents for each EBT/food stamp transaction and 40 cents for each debit card transaction. The transaction costs might be absorbed with slightly higher vendor fees, but the $1250 is a huge part of our budget–like almost all of it. So, that would have to be a grant purchase if we wanted to go that route.
The wireless machine, as I understand it, would also allow us to bypass the voucher system that we’d need to use with a land-line based wired machine. Instead of having the market manager or individual vendors call for authorization on each transaction and then, at the end of market, gather all the vouchers and take them home to report them using the land-line based machine, we could just do the transactions on site. Huge time and labor savings, with less opportunity for human error that could cost the market money.
Anyhow, this whole thing needs to go through our Board for consideration. But, I can still fill out the registration form. And by the way–that glitch I was talking about earlier with not being able to fill out the form? They’re very understanding about that, and you can call for the print form to fill out “the best you can” in order to bypass that persnickety online form that won’t let you progress unless you fill out every bit.
When you fill out the form for a farmers market, you need to include/attach a list of vendors to be included and what they sell. I was told it was OK to go by last year’s list of vendors. The Dept. of Social Services folks are also willing to come down and give a free demo/instruction seminar for vendors and market managers who want to learn how the system works.
Number to call to request the print form (which you really have to use if you’re a farmers market): 877-823-4369. You have to assert yourself in asking for the print form–otherwise they will try to direct you to the online form.