258292 Introducing EBT and Credit/Debit card access as new revenue streams to local farmers' markets

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 11:20 AM - 11:35 AM

Bethany Sanborn, MPH, MCHES , Public Health Division, Health and Human Services Department, City of Portland, Maine, Portland, ME
Joan Ingram, MPH , HHSD, Public Health Division, City of Portland, Portland, ME
TIm Fuller , Public Health Division, HHS Department, City of Portland, Maine, Portland, ME
Jessica Shaffer, MS, CHES , Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy, University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, Augusta, ME
Toho Soma, MPH , HHSD, Public Health Division, City of Portland, Portland, ME
Craig Lapine , Cultivating Community, Portland, ME
Introduction: When the national food supplement program moved from a paper coupon system to Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, it relieved many stressors and inefficiencies in the emergency food system. Unfortunately, without possession of an EBT machine or Internet access, producers and consumers operating in strictly cash-based systems, such as open air farmers markets, ended up unintentionally cut out of the system. Furthermore, it enacted an additional barrier to access to fresh, local and healthy foods among low-income populations.

Methods: During the past year in Portland, Maine (population 66,194), sentiment among local farmers to solve the problem reached a tipping point. This coincided with a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant that the City's Public Health Division received to reduce obesity rates by increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating. In July 2011, the City, the Farmers' Market Association and Cultivating Community – a local urban agriculture organization – initiated a pilot project to increase the number of food vendors at Portland's Farmers' Markets who accepted EBT and credit/debit cards. With a central access point, a “Market Money” system was created whereby consumers at the Markets can use credit/debit or EBT cards to obtain tokens to then purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

Results and Discussion: This season (July-November 2011), during the two weekly farmers' markets, over $17,000 worth of produce purchases were made with EBT cards, and $33,000 with debit/credit cards. This has resulted in new money for the vendors and increased access to fresh, local produce by SNAP recipients.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the importance of ensuring access to fresh, local produce for low income residents. 2. Articulate the benefit of SNAP/EBT acceptance at farmer’s markets to both farmers and the community. 3. List five steps to help ensure that a central access point SNAP/EBT system is successful in a farmers’ market setting. 4. Discuss the return on investment to implementing a central access point SNAP/EBT system in a farmers’ market setting.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Low-Income

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Oversaw the program that completed this project. Background in public health with 8 years working in the field.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.