Update on Food Stamp App for Farmers Markets

I’ve hit a glitch on the Farmers Market EBT/food stamp application.  The USDA form for applying is for a store with an owner, not an organization that doesn’t actually sell anything, only makes it possible for others to sell.

While there is a spot at the bottom of the first page for indicating that the applicant is a farmers market, it’s impossible, as a farmers market, to fill out the rest of the first page.  And you can’t even look at the next page until you completely fill out the preceding page.

Considering you have to accept an agreement that says they can put you in jail for giving incorrect information or trying to hide anything they ask you for, I’m waiting on this until Monday, when I can call the (very pleasant and helpful) guy in Bismark who processes the completed forms.

It’s hard for me not to get a little paranoid about this whole thing.  Sure, the USDA says they want to make it possible for markets to accept food stamps (the program is now called SNAP–or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), but if they really do, they should provide a separate form for markets that acknowledges that markets often do not have an owner, do not sell anything, and sometimes are forced to change locations.

What I’ve learned thusfar in my research is that according to the Dept. of Social Services, currently there are no markets in South Dakota accepting EBT/food stamps.  That’s not to say there aren’t individual vendors who are doing it, but individual vendors who do probably have pretty serious sales volume in order to make it worthwhile.

Our idea is to form a collective (uh-oh–is this socialism?) in order to allow all vendors selling approved foods at our market to accept food stamps, no matter what their individual volume of sales.  This would seem like a pretty standard goal for small to medium-sized markets, where the work required by such a collective system isn’t overwhelming for the (mostly volunteer) market management.

But it looks like the USDA isn’t really prepared yet to do what they say they want to do.  I’m not daunted though.  I’m happy to help them adjust.  😉


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