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Posts Tagged ‘ebt’

FOG expands technical support to farmers and markets wishing to accept SNAP

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community. We want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work. 

In October, we were awarded a Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) to increase the capacity of our Fresh Access Bucks farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.KYV Farm

Fresh Access Bucks is a statewide incentive program designed to encourage SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers markets to purchase fresh, healthy foods directly from Florida
farmers. At participating markets, FOG matches what a SNAP cardholder spends with FREE Fresh Access Bucks – up to $20, every market day. Customers can use them right away or later on to buy Florida grown fruits and vegetables. For example, a SNAP shopper who spends $10 of their SNAP benefits at a participating market receives an additional $10 to purchase fresh, local produce.

The grant funding will increase the capacity of 20 Fresh Access Bucks partners managing the participation of SNAP at 29 farmers markets.

It does so by providing each partner with funding to hire part-time staff to manage SNAP activities for the markets. By providing the partners with funding for part-time staff over two years, we anticipate greater SNAP redemption rates at these 29 markets through increased outreach and visibility of the program.

This is huge for our efforts in Florida!

In addition to supporting the establishment, management and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers markets, FMSS grant funds will also expand our technical support to farmers and farmers markets wishing to accept SNAP.

Won’t you join with us as we change Florida’s food landscape?

What moves you to foster change?

As 2015 comes to a close, we want to reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through our Moving Monday campaign that spotlights how we are changing the food landscape throughout Florida.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community so we want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

 This past April was an amazing month for FOG as we received a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant, which supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

Our proposal, “Fresh Access Bucks: Increasing Food Access And Florida Farmer Sales At Markets Statewide” will serve 50 markets over a 3-year period located in at least 21 counties throughout Florida!

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) increases the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by enabling farmers markets to accept EBT and allows SNAP users to purchase double-their-food dollars for
fresh, Florida-grown produce at farmers markets. Englewood FM manager Lee and SNAP Manager Amy

Eight months into our project, we have already partnered with 28 markets in low-income communities and work with various community organizations, private businesses, and state and local government agencies to implement this program.

Ultimately, this project will benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida and will increase farmer revenue by $2.1 million.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than $200,000 was generated in revenue for Florida grown produce, more than 150 Florida farmers participated and expanded to more than 3,000 new market shoppers.

In order to continue to serve communities throughout Florida with various workshops and programs associated with this grant, we need your support!

Join with us as we continue this program and create a sustainable, local, just, organic food and farm system that is environmentally and ethically sound.

 Let’s change the Florida food landscape together!

Invest in a healthy and sustainable future for Florida

As 2013 winds down, we want to reflect on what we accomplished this past year thanks to the support of our members.

Highlights include:

  • Our GIFT Gardens program has built raised bed vegetable gardens at 21 sites for low-income families and the institutions that support them in the last six months.   SwallowTail Farm workshop_rev
  • Since January, Porters Community Farm in Gainesville has donated more than 700 pounds of fresh produce to the local homeless shelter and various soup kitchens for those in need.
  • Our EBT Program continues to increase access by accepting food stamps for healthy options at two local farmers markets in Alachua County.
  • Our Fresh Access Bucks program is currently active at over eight farmers markets throughout Florida and will be expanding to at least 14 by the end of the year, allowing SNAP users across the state to double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables.

A few exciting plans for 2014:

  • We will be hosting four four on-farm educational workshops throughout the state that will cover topics such as soil fertility, crop production and management, sustainable food systems, transitioning from conventional to organic practices, marketing, agricultural policy issues, and organic certification. We are working on details for these workshops, so stay tuned!
  • Expanding and developing our website, including an expanded and interactive map, Florida FarmFinder and many other resources.
  • Our Fresh Access Bucks program will be expanding to at least 20 farmers markets by the end of 2014, allowing SNAP users across the state to double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables.
  • FOG will be participating in educational and outreach events throughout the state and region, including partnering with Georgia Organics on their annual conference and GrowFest! in Miami-Dade. FOG will also partner with East End Market to host the Florida Local Food Summit.
  • We will be working to encourage the passage of a Farm Bill and one that promotes our values of a sustainable, just and local farm and food system.

Our members are our lifeblood—without them, we wouldn’t be able to achieve all that we have.

Join FOG today and be part of the good food movement for a healthier and more sustainable future!

You can choose your own level of giving—one that reflects how much you value and have the ability to support the mission and work of FOG.

To join today, learn more or to give a gift membership, CLICK HERE.

Together we can create a sustainable, local, just, organic food and farm system that’s good for people and the planet.

Florida Organic Growers EBT Program — Past, Present and Future

By: Derek Helmick, Community Food Project Coordinator  EBT LOGO2

For three years, Florida Organic Growers has provided a booth at various farmers markets throughout Alachua County that provide SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit transfers.

In that time, the booth’s operational costs have been covered by various municipal grants; however, as municipal budgets tighten and the program matures, it is vital for the funding to continue in order for the booth to remain a part of the area farmers’ markets. Let’s delve into the broader history of the programs involved, the Alachua County project specifically, and provide possible plans for the booth’s future.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is an aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Originally the Food Stamp program, it was started in the late 1930s as a response to widespread unemployment and massive food surpluses that existed during the height of the depression. Having ended in 1943, the program was reauthorized in 1959 with bipartisan support. During the incoming Kennedy Administration it was made permanent so as to make available “… to all needy families a greater variety and quantity of food out of our agricultural abundance.” [exec.ord. 10914]

In the 53 years since, the program has had regular revisions in step with political, ideological, and technological changes. One such technological change was a move in the late 90s to phase out the old green-and-brown stamps system in favor of an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card to be used like a credit or debit card. This was done to make the system more consistent, more accountable, and less susceptible to fraud. With the move to an electronic payment system however, the retail food market became fragmented; those consumers receiving SNAP benefits were effectively shut out from any part of the market unable to handle electronic transactions. Two such parts of the excluded market are small and medium farmers who sell direct to the consumer.

ebttokens_machineDirectly selling to consumers remains a vital part of many farmers’ income. While most farm output is irrevocably tied up in larger grocery vendor systems, farmers often maintain an amount of excess or specialty crops that would otherwise go unsold. Many farmers elect to take part in regional farmers’ markets as a way to sell those products – often at significant a discount relative to grocery stores. Often, these markets are located close to populations that are underserved by most of the retail food market.

In Alachua County, the farmers’ markets FOG maintains an EBT booth at border regions the USDA has labeled as being without basic access to large grocery stores or similar outlets.

There is a significant investment necessary to starting up and maintaining the ability to accept electronic transactions. In addition, there are even more investments needed to accept SNAP benefits that put it out of reach for most farmers and small vendors. To accept SNAP and electronic transactions on behalf of multiple vendors allows for economies of scale that otherwise couldn’t support the necessary ongoing overhead.

Covering these costs is necessary in order to provide the wealth of health benefits made possible through EBT at farmers markets.

If you would like to support the EBT program at various farmers’ markets, please contact FOG at 352.377.6345. If you have any questions, comments, or would like more information about our work in this area, you are encouraged to contact us at Derek@foginfo.org or call 352.377.6345.

 

Funds for EBT machines in Florida expire September 30!

EBT LOGO2 Hoe Down 005

Attention Florida farmers markets and farmer – just over a month left to apply for SNAP authorization and a state-funded EBT machine!

Florida was allocated $78,749 to purchase electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines for farmers markets. This money MUST be used before September 30th, 2013. So far, only $19,908 have been spent! We have $58,841 (74.72%) remaining!

In May of 2012, $4 million was appropriated for the purchase or rental of a wireless device and related SNAP fees for markets across the US. 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 must be used by 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). 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.

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. Check out this information sheet to see if you or your market is eligible, and learn more about the process

Additionally, your market might be eligible to participate in Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG)’s new program, Fresh Access Bucks, a double value coupon program that allows SNAP users to double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets statewide.

If you have further questions about this funding, EBT at farmers markets or the Fresh Access Bucks program, please feel free to contact Carmen Franz at FOG at carmen@foginfo.org.

Departmental Spotlight – EBT

Posted on:

Florida Organic Growers for two years has run a booth providing SNAP benefit -commonly, Food Stamp- transfers at various farmers’ markets in Alachua County. In that time, the booth’s operational costs have been covered by various municipal grants; however, as municipal budgets tighten and the program matures, it is incumbent upon us to find a new way to fund the booth if it is to remain a part of the area farmers’ markets.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is an aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Originally the Food Stamp Program, started in the late 1930s as a response to widespread unemployment and massive food surpluses that existed during the height of the depression. Having ended in 1943, the program was reauthorized in 1959 with bipartisan support. During the incoming Kennedy Administration it was made permanent so as to make available “… to all needy families a greater variety and quantity of food out of our agricultural abundance.” [exec.ord. 10914]

In the fifty-three years since, the program has had regular revisions in step with political, ideological, and technological changes. One such technological change was a move in the late nineties to phase out the old green-and-brown stamps system in favor of an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card to be used like a credit or debit card. This was done to make the system more consistent, more accountable, and less susceptible to fraud. With the move to an electronic payment system however, the retail food market became fragmented; those consumers receiving SNAP benefits were effectively shut out from any part of the market unable to handle electronic transactions. Two such parts of the excluded market are small and medium farmers who sell direct to the consumer.

Directly selling to consumers remains a vital part of many farmers’ income. While most farm output is irrevocably tied up in larger grocery vendor systems, farmers often maintain an amount of excess or specialty crops that would otherwise go unsold. Many farmers elect to take part in regional farmers’ markets as a way to sell those products – often at significant a discount relative to grocery stores. Often, these Markets are located close to populations that are underserved by most of the retail food market. Indeed, in Alachua County, the farmers’ markets FOG maintains an EBT booth at border regions the USDA has labeled as being without basic access to large grocery stores or similar outlets.