Michel Nischan

Great interview with Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave and long time Farm To Table chef. He tells Louisiana Eats host Poppy Tooker about how and why he created his public role.
http://wwno.org/post/tradition-begs-evolution-changing-federal-policy-reviving-local-customs” title=”Interview withMichel Nischan by Poppy Tooker”

An Introduction to MarketLink: Are you eligible to receive a free SNAP/EBT system for your market?

Farmers Market Coalition and Wholesome Wave are co-hosting a FREE webinar:

Wednesday August 13, 2014 3:00pm-4:30pm EST

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) launched MarketLink, a website that provides farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers with a one-stop-shop to become an authorized SNAP vendor and take advantage of USDA funding to obtain free or low-cost equipment and wireless services. Up to $4 million in grants for SNAP/EBT technology solutions will be available through this program for eligible markets through September 30, 2014. The quickly approaching deadline means that eligible farmers and market managers are making this important decision right now. Wholesome Wave and Farmers Market Coalition are co-hosting this free webinar to address your unanswered questions about MarketLink. Through this webinar, you will:
understand the USDA’s funding stream for enhanced SNAP benefits at markets
learn who is eligible to access USDA funding through MarketLink
learn about MarketLink, an iPhone-based EBT system that taps into $4 million in USDA funding to help new markets become SNAP/EBT accessible
hear an on-the-ground perspective on applying through MarketLink and implementing EBT

Rogelio Carrasco of the USDA’s Food And Nutrition Service will present an overview of the USDA’s funding for improved access to SNAP benefits at markets and the history of Marketlink
Amy Crone of NAFMNP and the Maryland Farmers Market Association will present the MarketLink program and provide an in-depth description of eligibility and application process
Sara Berney, Executive Director of Wholesome Wave Georgia, will discuss her experience applying for funds through MarketLink and recommendations for others

To register to for this webinar, please click here.

Please contact Liz at FMC at liz@farmersmarketcoalition.org, with any questions on the webinar.

Farmers Market Legal Toolkit Project

As a member of this team, I’m pleased to share the news of this project being funded:
The Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems received funding to develop a Farmers Market Legal Toolkit (FMLT) and educate market leaders on various legal topics that affect them. The project will be conducted in partnership with NOFA- VT, who will assist them in collecting data on area farmer’s markets. The legal toolkit will include resources in three major areas: governance structure of farmer’s markets, liabilities related to use of EBT/SNAP systems, and general risk management.

Research Awards to Support Rural Communities | National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

(USDA Editor’s Note: The USDA press release mistakenly identified this project as the University of Vermont and the USDA research summary system mistakenly identified it as the University of Arizona, but it is in fact Vermont Law School.)

Credit Card Payments Market Competition

Here is a link to an excerpt on the politics of credit card systems. It illuminates how startups companies wanting to provide services face difficulties, including this:

Two pieces in the chain are particularly vulnerable to disruption: the makers of the actual hardware — basically card readers and registers — that are used to physically accept card payments at stores, and the hundreds of vendors known as merchant service providers, or MSPs, which set businesses up to accept credit cards.

The entire article (unfortunately you must pay to get it) speaks to some of the issues we are facing with MobileMarket et al in expanding technology to lower capacity markets and farmers. It also shows the need for the food movement to embed knowledge on card and currency issues so that we stay ahead or at least on the curve of changes, rather than being pawns of the very small set of multi-national players in technology and card processing. If, like me, you accessed the entire article (or others like it) and want to have a conversation, I’m interested in talking about these issues in more depth. Feel free to contact me…

Credit Card Payments Market Competition 2 – Business Insider.

an excerpt from another article on the subject raises many of the same questions:

“…with the global roll-out of mobile payment services comes uncertainty for both banks and consumers, and this is evident in the lack of standardization in mobile payments technology. Financial institutions are facing a major dilemma. When planning mobile payment services, they need to select one of the available technologies in the hope that it will become the dominant standard, or they risk being left behind.”

MarketLink is available

As readers of this blog know, troubling issues remain with the adoption of wireless technology and appropriate systems for accepting cards at markets, whether at a central terminal or through individual terminals. This pot of money is welcome but may also create a divide for those states and networks that need some time and resources to study the efficacy of existing programs before expanding them anymore. In any case, I sincerely hope that this program will be about assisting networks to solve some of those problems and not just about expanding the number of machines available.

MarketLinkTM is a program of the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) launched in 2013 to connect farmers, markets, and consumers through technology. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) set a goal to increase the acceptance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) at farmers markets nationwide, and awarded a contract to NAFMNP to work towards this end.

MarketLink | Connecting farmers, markets & consumers through technology.

Market Benefit and Incentives PPT-Vermont 2013 – Helping Public Markets Grow

Since I’m back in Vermont for the 2014 Direct Marketing Conference, I decided to upload the Power Point from the 2013 Wholesome Wave convening that Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT and I gave about the 2013 Vermont Market Currency Report. I’ll add notes for each slide sometime in the next month or two but the data will still be helpful to many.

Market Benefit and Incentives PPT-Vermont 2013 – Helping Public Markets Grow.

New Nationwide Study Shows SNAP Incentives at Farmers’ Markets Boost Healthy Eating, Support Farmers, and Grow Local Economies | Fair Food Network

From the conclusion:

A minority of funds went unused. Possible reasons for this gap include that tokens were lost, misplaced, or reserved for a future visit that did not occur. Regardless, a loss in purchasing power negatively affects the financial benefits provided by the incentive program, and means that SNAP participants have fewer funds to mitigate food insecurity. Future work should strive to better understand this problem in various communities and test innovative solutions to increase SNAP redemption rates. Additionally, further exploration will be helpful to determine what maximum amount of SNAP benefits
matched maximizes participation by SNAP customers. To better understand the health impacts on individuals who use SNAP incentives to purchase fresh produce, future research also should explore changes in consumption and other health behavior. Finally, examining the relationship between various implementation strategies and reported changes in consumers, vendors, and markets will help better identify promising practices for effective incentive programs. The cluster evaluation documented program innovations; influences of incentive programs on consumers, vendors, and markets; and lessons learned to inform a fragmented field of practice. The cluster program organizations are poised and ready to share what they are learning about effective program management, marketing, funding, capacity building, sustainability strategies, and achieving desired outcomes with fellow practitioners. After sharing program experiences, program implementation, and outcome data, and advancing ideas on how best to advance and implement solutions to food system issues of common concern through this cluster evaluation, the programs are exploring plans to launch an online “Learning Community” that would bring more program coherence to the field of practice and increase the field’s capacity to be more impactful.

New Nationwide Study Shows SNAP Incentives at Farmers’ Markets Boost Healthy Eating, Support Farmers, and Grow Local Economies | Fair Food Network.