Wednesday, August 13, 2008

EBT and Debit Success!

Hello everyone! Mara the BFM Treasurer here to let you know about the new project that the Burlington Farmers' Market is doing. One of the major projects requested by our membership to the BFM Steering Committee was to work on getting our market to accept Food Stamps, also known as EBT. EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. It was a long road getting here, filled with meeting after meeting after conference call after Federal form to fill out, but we have succeeded and now we officially accept Food Stamps! This is a great project spearheaded by NOFA-VT. Not only does the nifty wireless machine that we now possess accept EBT, but it also accepts debit as well (for a very small market-supporting transaction fee of $1.00)! So, what this means is that a customer can go to the market manager's tent, talk with our super awesome EBT operator, UVM student Katie Carroll, and let her know how much $$ they would like to spend at the market that day. They swipe their card, and if they are an EBT customer they receive $1 tokens, and if they are

a Debit customer, they receive $5 tokens. The funds immediately get transferred from their EBT/Debit account and get deposited into our account. Since we are not a bank, we cannot dispense actual cash, so we use these nifty all maple VT made tokens with our logo on them. Since it is a Federal program, people with EBT cards from any state can use our machine and receive tokens! The customer then goes to the vendors and uses them like cash. The vendors turn in their tokens to the market, and get reimbursed with a check.

I thought that it would take a long time to get lots of customers using this system, but in 2 weeks of operation, we have over $210 in EBT sales and $179 in Debit sales! This means that EBT customers are coming to market and using them to outpace debit transactions, which is exactly what we hoped it would do!

Another nice perk of the EBT machine is that we can use it year-round, so even at our winter market. Hopefully Burlingtonians will continue to see this as a valuable service and use it as even more incentive to visit our market! So, if you find yourself stuck at the market with no cash, go see Katie and she'll be happy to swipe your Debit or EBT card and get you some tokens!

No comments: