Food Stamp Redemptions at New Hampshire Farmers’ Markets
The 2006 growing season was the final season of the pilot project to test a marketwide system of accepting Food Stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)cards at farmers’ markets. A full summary and results of the project can be found in the 2006 report for this project (LNE04-199). Any vendors accepting Food Stamp EBT cards at farmers’ markets in 2007 did so independent of this project.
Northeast SARE granted the project leaders an extension for the purpose of completing the final outreach and education materials. The final product is a market manager manual describing different methods of accepting food stamp EBT cards at farmers’ markets. The project leaders serve as mentors for individual farms and/or farmers’ markets who wish to accept food stamp EBT cards at New Hampshire farmers’ markets.
Of the 150 farmers who sell food at New Hampshire farmers’ markets, 30 farmers from three pilot markets will within three years collectively increase their revenue by accepting food stamp benefits. The goals of this project are consistent with the Northeast SARE outcome statement because they increase the profitability for a diverse set of farmers; and will have a positive influence on their communities by increasing the accessibility of healthful products to an additional segment of customers.
Degree of Change: This project will be successful if, within three years, food stamp redemption figures at farmers’ markets exceed $18,000 per year, or $54,000 total revenue over the course of the project. This number is based on the value of the farmers’ market redemptions of food stamps in 1998; the year the EBT card was implemented in New Hampshire. At that time, a combination of thirty-two farm stands/farmers’ market vendors accepted food stamps and redeemed $18, 407, with an average redemption of $575.22 per vendor. We believe that our goal of $18,000 per year is a conservative estimate based on the greater number of farmers participating in farmers’ markets in 2003.
Without Intervention: Farmers lost a source of revenue when the Food Stamp EBT card was implemented in New Hampshire in 1998. Livestock and value added producers are excluded from the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program – administered by the WIC Program – and with more low income customers supporting farmers’ markets in the state there is a significant potential new source of revenue for all farmers.
There is one outstanding milestone. A guide for market managers about how to accept Food Stamp EBT cards at farmers’ markets is the final deliverable for this project and is in the editing phase.
The Milestones and accomplishments to date are found in the 2004 – 2006 reports for this project.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The Food Stamps Redemmptions at New Hampshire Farmers’ Markets project (LNE04-199) had the dual purpose of creating another market for food vendors at three New Hampshire farmers’ markets while providing access for low income individuals and families to acquire the freshest, nutritious food available in their communities.
The activities for the project were completed in the 2006 growing season and reported in detail in 2004-2006. Overall, the project was well received by both market vendors and food stamp recipients. Focus groups with food stamp recipients conducted prior to the implementation of the pilot indicated there was interest from that group in usng their food stamp EBT cards at farmers’ markets.
In practice, there was low turnout by food stamp EBT recipients at the markets. The project was designed to test the markets’ capacity to continue the project in the third year without paid staff. One of the three participating markets continued the project on their own in 2006. The other two markets elected not to continue due to limited internal market capacity to staff an EBT booth. The market that continued offering the service had the capacity to do so because their Main Street program offered to run the transactions at the markets from their booth. Three significant challenges need to be studied further and were not the scope of this project.
The following three assumptions need to be studied further for markets to understand whether the food stamp population is one to target promotion:
1. Will more open promotion of the service attract more food stamp recipients to the market?
2. How significant is price for the food stamp family compared to the WIC/Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon family? Food Stamp families are the lowest socioeconomic segment of the population.
3. What impact would support from other community organizations have on numbers of food stamp recipients shopping at farmers’ markets?
The final report from the project and how to manual will be available in spring 2008.