Canadian measurement of local food impact

Received a great report this week from Community Food Centres Canada. These folks “provide resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada to create Community Food Centres that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food.”
Their report has loads of information, including some clear metrics with some of the social (I.e. added connections, added trust) and human benefits (I.e. knowledge gained) as well as metrics for gauging the effectiveness of their projects for the communities that they serve.

+ 93% of community members surveyed report that Community Food Centres are an important source of healthy food.

+ 88% of food skills program participants have increased confidence in making healthy food choices.

+ 90% of food skills program participants report improvements in their mental health.

+ 91% of parents of children in After School Programs say their children showed increased confidence in the kitchen after having participated in the program.

+ 88% of community members surveyed report that they’ve made a new friend since they’ve come to their Community Food Centre.

Downloads their report here

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Technology for markets and farmers: EMV (or chip and pin technology) for cards

Was fortunate to be on a call with market state and network leaders today and to hear speakers including Kim Lyons, a long time supporter of small retailers at MerchantSource®; she gave us a great overview today of the chip and pin enabled devices/aka EMV devices/aka smart card technology that is coming down the pike. Here is what I heard, and as I get updates I’ll post them here and if what I wrote here needs to be corrected by my more able colleagues, I’ll also update. But since I know many markets don’t have state or network support systems, I felt it was necessary to get this on radar screens asap.

Chip and pin technology has existed for many years in Europe but had not been pushed in the US market- that was, until some of the worst breaches of cards ever seen happened in the past year, including the Home Depot and Target breaches (although some reports indicate that last particular breach may not have been solved by chip and pin technology!) Nevertheless, chip and pin technology is coming and coming soon.

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This technology means credit and debit cards contain an embedded microchip and are authenticated automatically using a PIN. When a customer uses a card, it is placed into a “Point of Sale” (POS) terminal, which connects to the chip on the card. To complete the transaction, the customer enters a 4-digit PIN. These new technologies are meant to reduce the likelihood of breaches, especially at the merchant level! This is also true of new app-based systems (also called “contactless systems”) like Apple Pay which allow a user to upload credit cards to their iPhone 6 and use encrypted “near-field technology” to just tap the smart phone to the merchant pad. The card never leaves ones wallet in those cases.

This chip and pin technology directly relates to all debit and credit but not presently to EBT only technology because EBT uses a different software kernel (system). However, many expect FNS to address this issue with changes in their technology sooner or later.
Important to note: This technology is for “card present” (CP) transactions and so internet or phone based transactions aka card not present (CNP) transactions will need their own version of chip and pin; some exist already. Of course, markets are not usually running CNP transactions so this is less of an issue right now for physical farmers markets.
There is a great deal left to learn about these issues as markets move into the next generation of technology. What is crucial to understand right now is the expected deadline of October 2015 for having this emv/pci compliant technology will shift liability of any breach on to merchant’s shoulders rather than the merchant providers of Mastercard/Visa etc. After that expected date of October 2015, in order for liability of any breach to stay with the merchant service providers, it will be necessary for any retailer to have these integrated pin pads or systems at that point. That means either adopting brand new card technology or app-based services like Apple Pay or upgrading their existing magnetic stripe only capabilities.
Once again, this technology is not directly related to EBT right now as a different type of technology so EBT only machines are not affected at this time but rumors abound of possible changes…

*TL/DR: Markets or state associations need to know if their merchant service providers or app-based solutions are emv/pci/contactless compliant. This new technology needs to be embedded into their pin pads or new technology by October of 2015 or the liability for any breach shifts to the merchant (read market). That entering into any lease system for readers at this point may mean getting technology that is “end of life” and cannot be upgraded or may mean paying for equipment after its technology is outdated. (Leasing versus renting contract language also needs to be understood by the buyer!) So, state associations, national partners and advocates for farmers and markets are working hard to understand these issues and to find resources for markets and farmers to understand the issues that will arise.
What was also raised on this call was Farmers Market Coalition’s new contract with FNS to administer 3.3 million in support grants to markets for EBT systems and 700,000 in replacement equipment. I am sure that system along with the existing Marketlink system (which is an entirely separate program from FMC’s contract and supports NEW EBT systems for markets and for market farmers) are both going to work diligently on making sure these new systems are addressed.
Start reading up, folks.

* internet slang for “Too long; didn’t read”

Farmers Market Coalition helping SNAP at markets through USDA contract

The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) has been awarded a USDA contract to assist in improving and expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets nationwide.  Through the contract, FMC will collaborate with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to administer $4 million in grants for SNAP programming needs and replacement wireless electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment.

Over the next twelve months, FMC will complete the following objectives in collaboration with FNS: (1) establish a process that FNS will use to award support grants to eligible farmers markets, and (2) establish and implement a process to provide replacement SNAP EBT equipment and services to farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers that are operating SNAP programs in situations of hardship.

The funds will be used to provide markets and farmers with various types of support. FNS has identified the most commonly requested types of assistance, in descending order:

  1. Personnel costs to operate farmers markets;
  2. Materials to materials to inform SNAP participants of their ability to use their benefits at farmers markets;
  3. Miscellaneous equipment, such as scrip, and technology infrastructure (wifi hotspots, phone lines, electrical lines, etc.);
  4. Replacement equipment and for existing markets and farmers that are in situations of hardship.

Needs numbered 1, 2, and 3 above will be addressed in the form of support grants for eligible farmers markets, while number 4, the need for replacement equipment, will be addressed separately.  It is expected that of the total $4 million, approximately $3.3 million will be used for support grants, while the remaining $700,000 will be spent on replacement equipment.

FMC is eager to assist USDA FNS in fulfilling their goal of supporting local food systems by expanding access to healthy foods for SNAP participants. FMC Executive Director Jen Cheek shared, “SNAP redemptions at farmers markets have risen dramatically over the past five years, but they still represent a extremely small percentage of total SNAP benefit spending.  This support from USDA will help markets and farmers build strong SNAP programs – getting more fresh, locally farmed food to the Americans who need it most.”

Truth & Transparency: Farm Audits for Producer-Only Integrity | Farmers Market Coalition

An excellent webinar today from Farmers Market Coalition on one of California’s farm audit programs. Impressive how much our low-capacity markets are doing to safeguard their mission and values and to protect producers.

Find the recording here.

Employment with Farmers Market Coalition

Two great 40-hour/wk job postings with Farmers Market Coalition are being offered: an EBT Program Associate and an Education Program Associate. The programs for these positions have enormous potential to become pillars of FMC’s national work for many years to come, so please spread the word to as many corners of the community food system to allow them the opportunity to get the best staff possible. I can personally vouch that this organization has an excellent work environment staffed with dedicated and delightful folks.
Link to FMC website