ELECTRONIC BENEFITS TRANSFER PROGRAM
NYS Wireless EBT Program
In a partnership with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Farmers Market Federation of NY administers a statewide wireless EBT program. With wireless, handheld Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals in farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets and NYC Green Carts, consumers have greater access to fresh, healthy, affordable and locally grown foods. Farmers also have a new customer base, helping to grow revenue and support the local agricultural community.
The Wireless EBT program has evolved over the years. Wireless terminals operated on an analog system in 2001, limiting the growth of the program to areas with data transmission towers As the technology evolved, the program was transformed to a digital system, operating off cellular towers. This technology allowed the program to expand statewide.
In 2005, the program began a central terminal model, allowing more markets to join the program, giving greater access to food stamp consumers and more income potential to a greater number of farmers. With one terminal in each market, administered by the market manager or their designee, food stamp customers are able to swipe their benefit card and receive EBT tokens. The tokens or food stamp scrip, are used as cash to purchase eligible products from the farmers and vendors in the market. Farmers, accepting the tokens as payment for their products, redeemed the tokens from the market manager for cash. A simple system, creating a fun, new economy in the marketplace.
In 2009, the program expanded beyond farmers markets and began to include non-traditional food vendors, i.e. mobile markets, farm stands and NYC Green Carts. The initiative opened new outlets for consumers to purchase fresh, healthy and locally grown food.
The program has continued to grow every year. In 2010, the program included 202 farmers markets, 8 mobile markets, 24 farmers, 27 farm stands and 17 NYC Green Carts. In total, $1.6 million in food stamp benefits were used with our local farmers markets and other non-traditional food vendors.This represents nearly twice the amount collected in 2008 and is still less than 1% of total EBT benefits spending in New York State, illustrating the growth which is to come.
How the program works
Under the NYS Wireless EBT Program, market managers, mobile markets, farm stands and NYC Green Carts are provided, free of charge, with a wireless POS terminal. They are also provided promotional banners and a media kit with branded images for the program. Markets using the central terminal system are also provided, free of charge, with serialized, market specific, EBT tokens and signage for each farmer and vendor in the market participating in the program.
Each participant in the program undergoes training in the administration of the program at the market/farm level, including the rights and responsibilities of each partner in the program – the Federation, the market and the participating farmers and consumers. Included in the responsibilities is the required EBT transaction logs that allows tracking of all sales and redemptions of EBT tokens.
Promotion is a key to success for the EBT program, whether in a farmers market, a farm stand or even the NYC Green Carts. The Federation provides promotional materials to program participants, including banners, posters, print ads and press releases (Look under Media Center above). In addition, the Federation conducts promotional campaigns on a statewide basis, building awareness for the program among the state’s consumer base, as well as the service providers who work with the low income community.
RESOURCES AND LINKS
a website developed for the food stamp consumer and service providers who work with food stamp consumers.
an online application to become a certified food stamp retailer