Food Stamps at SD Farmers Markets–the Rumors Dispelled!


I have spent the better part of two days calling and e-mailing and researching, trying to find out how the Vermillion Area Farmers Market can accept food stamps (now called SNAP).

I talked to people who thought Huron Market was already doing it (they aren’t, though they researched it), and I talked to people who thought that we were already doing it in Vermillion (we had done some preliminary research).  I also talked to someone who told me no markets are doing it in South Dakota.

For how incredibly complicated the process of finding the right people to talk to was, the process of actually doing it seems relatively simple and straightforward and cheap.

Here’s what I’ve learned thusfar:

The State (or company the state contracts with) provides one EBT machine per location and the training to use it.  Your market does not have to buy a machine/card reader to be able to accept food stamps.

If you do not have a landline or electricity on site, you can use a cell phone to call in and determine the amount of benefits a customer has and use a (provided) voucher system, recording the card info on the voucher, keeping a copy (or two–not sure yet) and then processing the benefits after the market using the machine connected to a landline.

In our case, it would make sense for the market itself to fill out the vouchers and use the machine, and to reimburse food vendors for the EBT/food stamp sales they make.  From what I have been told, the company that the state contracts with will deposit the food stamp funds directly into the market’s bank account a few days after the transactions are processed–so the market won’t be left hanging for weeks, putting out money to reimburse vendors, but not getting anything back.

The person to contact about getting set up to accept food stamps at farmers markets (at least for our fair state of South Dakota) is Sandy Vanneman.  Her number is (605) 773-6527.  It took me two days of calling people to get to that point, so you’re welcome for the shortcut!

I don’t know if what I was told about no markets in South Dakota accepting EBT is true, but if it is, I’d wager it’s because it has been such a lengthy process to figure out who to talk to.  Let’s clear the air about this and get the markets of SD on board–for the good of the people, the vendors, the communities.

I’ll update this post (or create new posts) as I find out more information and go through the process for our market.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jacy on January 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    nice work, Rebecca! I think your hard work and compassion for others is admirable! best of luck!

  2. gosh. i see you’ve taken a lot of your time in order to get this information out. i wonder if anybody in michigan would be doing the same thing you did so i can point the help to my relatives who live there. anyway, great job still!

  3. Posted by flyingtomato on January 15, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Imee–it may already be happening in Michigan! I know that at least the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program is happening there on some scale, as I used Michigan as an example of other states with fairly short growing seasons who were participating in the program when our State WIC Director told me the growing season was one reason the WIC FMNP wasn’t happening here.

    –re.

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