I have a lot to tell you about my trip to Denver for the Slow Food Nations event, and to share ideas and research about vendor development at markets, and talk about the upcoming Direct Marketing Ag Summit in mid September, but instead of that, this post will focus on the immediate crisis in front of us: the recent news about the shutdown of the Novo Dia Group, which effectively will cease card processing for 1700 farmers markets and farmers during (most of the) country’s busiest market season. Since the news broke, my FMC colleagues have worked day and night listening to market leaders, asking questions of all of the players involved, explaining the problem to media and to our elected officials and strategizing with markets, farmers and partners about solutions. Now there is a single place to find all of the information and FMC will continue to update that page with the latest information.
My home market organization continues to pilot new ways to include at-risk populations into their community. The staff shared with me that they studied the Sustainable Food Center’s work in Austin TX with CVB to design their pilot. This mock program will lead the state into seeing how WIC families benefit from markets in terms of social and intellectual capital as well as increasing their regular access to healthy food.
(The article seems to state that CCFM has been doing SNAP redemptions since 2008; actually it has been accepting EBT cards to redeem SNAP benefits since 2005 and doing market matches on different programs since before then, including a seafood bucks program and a FMNP reward program for seniors to spend once they spent their FMNP coupons. The incentive added to SNAP has been a program in existence at the market since around 2008.)
Market Umbrella deserves credit for its continued innovation and the staff and board’s willingness to constantly explore ways to increase their markets’ reach.
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.