More About Farmers Markets and Food Stamps

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.


9 responses

  1. Thank you so very much for these blogs!
    I too had been running into a brick wall with finding people/farmer’s markets to talk with about establishing SNAP for our project on the Rosebud Reservation.

    • Kim–I used to live on the Rosebud! I’m happy to help in any way I can. You might talk to Don Cain up in Bismarck–he has helped set up a farmers market coupon program for elders on Standing Rock, and has tried to either bring elders to the farmers/vendors, or get vendors to them. His number: 701-250-4365

  2. Thanks for the offer of help!
    I am daunted with the task of getting more individuals involved with home gardens and food preservation …there is a method to my madness and I hope the entire pilot project works!
    My brain says I thought you looked familiar.. but I wouldn’t rely on it 😉

    • I was in the WIC program there while I was pregnant and then the year after my son was born–so about six years ago. I remember the WIC offerings being a lot better there than they were here in Vermillion. But, I was still surprised that at that time, with so many of the Native population being lactose intolerant, we couldn’t get soy milk instead of cow milk (we are lactose intolerant, too).

      I did try to grow a little garden at our teacher housing unit in Mission, but the soil was pretty terrible. It needed a lot of organic matter. I do remember that someone on the road to Rosebud had an awesome garden with a lot of gorgeous winter squash. There was also an elder gentleman who lived in a trailer park in Mission who had this amazing little garden in his tiny little yard.

      I hope your project goes well! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  3. I moved here in August, 2001 from Ohio with my 2 sons. (oldest was 15 at the time and youngest 11)….semi-vegetarian/sugar-free at the time, which worked well out in Ohio, but a huge disaster looking at the 2 grocery stores here 😦
    I was also used to a grocery store where the vegetable and fruit section was the size of 2 Busches alone. Like you, the inability to find soy milk was a shock, but so was the unavailability of sugar-free jams/jellies. Diabetes rampant clue anyone? At least over the past few years that has changed! Soy milk, tofu and the jams can be found! Even the vegetable selection at the one store has been expanded!
    In 2005, I was asked to take over on the greenhouse at SGU, been doing it ever since. This year, I want to add a Farmer’s Market, at least in Mission first. As I said, there is a method to my madness. Since disposable income is not common for many here, I want to set up to be able to use the EBT cards so vegetable/fruit plants/shrubs/trees can be purchased in May. (perhaps more folks will put in a small garden this way) then hold the farmer’s market during harvest time. I will also be having workshops on amending soils and gardening as well as food preservation so that the value-added foods can be sold.
    My first question is, how long did it take you to get the print form, and since this is a new endeavor with the farmer’s market, how would I list vendors and what each would sell if I haven’t a clue? Should I hold a meeting/forum here to get an idea first?

    • I think we have met–maybe at a farmers market conference. I remember talking to someone about taking over the SGU greenhouse (which was abandoned when I first moved there). I would definitely suggest you come to the market workshop in Brookings on February 21 because the EBT thing is on the agenda. I am not sure who they have to talk about it though–hopefully they are getting Sandy Vanneman from Social Services. My suggestion is that you call up Don Cain in Bismarck and talk to him about your plan–he has been working on projects similar to yours on Standing Rock, so he may be able to help.

      I don’t think you can use EBT for plants/shrubs/trees, but maybe there is some other program? I am thinking grant funding would be available–especially SARE grants.

      It only took about four or five days to get that print form in the mail. I haven’t sent it back out yet because we were getting our vendor list together. It does take up to 45 days to get approval.

      Not sure if a meeting/forum would bring in many vendors, but it would be excellent for getting an idea of how many people want to see a farmers market there and to get an idea of what kinds of goods people want to see there. That would be a great start in getting info to apply for grant funding (demonstrating a need), soliciting vendors, etc., and you could get a contact list together from that as well.

      I have been looking for a road trip to lighten the winter blahs, and I still have friends out that way, so maybe I can get out there sometime in the next month or two, and we can get together and talk strategy? I miss Crazy Horse Canyon!

  4. EBT… I looked… and it’s not well known…..
    You CAN Buy:
    Foods for you and your household to eat, such as:
    breads and cereals,
    fruits and vegetables,
    meats, fish, poultry,
    dairy products.
    Seeds and plants which produce food for you and your household.
    Group dining or home-delivered Senior Meals (if you are elderly).

    I checked on the fruit producing trees/shrubs/vines and apparently it falls under ‘plant’, but I want to make absolutely sure.

    I too thought you looked familiar…however, I have never been to any Farmer’s Market conferences and did replace the first gal after her first season in the greenhouse. Did you work at the high school or middle school?

    Anyhow, I’d love to attend the workshop in Brookings, is it hosted by SDSU? (need to get my ready for a trip) And if you ever get out this way, you can usually find me in the greenhouse (greenhouses in the winter are great for a person with SAD – helped mine out immensely) -or shoot me an email-

    • I just shot you a forward of the e-mail on that market conference.

      I will have to talk to Sandy about the plants part–that would be really great!


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