The Washington Post letters that a ample allotment of those application SNAP allowances at farmers markets – tens of bags of bodies – are about to lose that ability. The acceptable date for the abeyance is July 31st, appropriate in the affection of the growing division for abundant of the country’s farmers. This is a adverse addle-brain on the allotment of the federal government.
Farmers markets are a huge and growing supplier of advantageous aliment to those application SNAP benefits, bigger accustomed as aliment stamps. In New York City alone, an estimated $1 actor per year is spent at farmers markets application SNAP. Many cities and states accept added benefits; in New York, for example, SNAP users get an added two dollars to absorb on aftermath for every bristles dollars spent at the farmers markets.
To call how a customer can use SNAP at a farmers market, let’s attending at New York City, which is absolute ample but contrarily commensurable to best markets. In adjustment to pay with SNAP at New York City markets, bodies accept to arch to an advice covering and bash their EBT card, which is about a debit agenda for SNAP benefits. In exchange, they’ll get board tokens, which are accustomed by about all vendors at every market. (The exceptions: booze and cut flowers.)
There is a appropriate bit of accouterments and software appropriate for that EBT swipe; it’s not annihilation complicated, but it is abstracted from, say, a acclaim agenda point-of-sale machine. The USDA does not absolutely accomplish either the accouterments or the software. Instead, they accord a ample arrangement to an organization, and that alignment decides on one or several tech companies that will absolutely accommodate the software. There are a few altered companies who accomplish that software appropriate now, but the bigger is a aggregation alleged Novo Dia, which aliment over 1,700 farmers and farmers markets.
The accouterments – the absolute annexation accessory – is usually article basic, like an iPad, which is provided to the markets by grants. Grants additionally acquiesce the farmers markets to pay the processing fees for the software tech companies (just like a banker has to pay a allotment fee to a acclaim agenda company).
For years, the agent alignment was the Farmers Bazaar Coalition, a civic nonprofit that promotes and helps farmers market. If you accept to accept a middleman, the FMC makes sense.
In November 2017, that agent arrangement came up for renewal. Afterwards months of deliberation, the USDA absitively to alter them with a aggregation alleged Financial Transaction Management, LLC, based in Reston, Virginia. Financial Transaction Management was formed in backward October of 2017, aloof afore the arrangement became available. It is listed on GovTribe as accepting one employee, Angela Sparrow, who did not acknowledge to requests for comment. In April, Financial Transaction Management anchored the USDA contract, which is account $1.3 million.
Novo Dia, whose farmers bazaar software is alleged Mobile Bazaar Plus, is a vital, if mostly unknown, way for food-insecure bodies to get advantageous food. Among its 1,700 barter is the absolute New York City Greenmarket system. “Our acceptance was that we would be able to, for abridgement of a bigger word, bid on [the government contract], or at at atomic be contacted [about our services],” said Josh Wiles, admiral of Novo Dia. “And we weren’t.” Financial Transaction Management did not admit any advice with the bigger provider of the account it was tasked with managing, and in actuality Novo Dia did not alike administer to allege with them for weeks afterwards the arrangement was awarded.
About a ages ago, says Wiles, it became bright to Novo Dia that it would not be allotment of Financial Transaction Management’s plan activity forward. Without that, Novo Dia’s barter would not be able to allow its fees, and Novo Dia would accept no way of authoritative money from Mobile Bazaar Plus. In an interview, Wiles seemed ashamed by this; he says they approved for weeks to amount out how to accumulate accouterment this service, but with no money advancing in, it doesn’t assume possible. Money Bazaar Plus will, unless article crazy happens, be shut bottomward on July 31st.
“Basically, there is not addition way to use SNAP at markets,” said Catherine Crawford, who works in communications at GrowNYC, the alignment that manages New York City’s farmers markets. Theoretically, the bazaar could booty bottomward an EBT cardinal by hand, but the time appropriate to absolutely assay an EBT antithesis makes that an abominable option. “It’s absolutely not at all achievable for markets that are our admeasurement or volume. It’s what we do if our app is bottomward for 20 minutes, but it’s not at all a absolute solution,” said GrowNYC’s Cheryl Huber.
So what is Financial Transaction Management’s plan? Starting on July 31st, there will about be no way for bodies to use SNAP at farmers markets. And in abundant of the country, this is the time back the markets are at abounding force: not aloof important for customers, but additionally for farmers who await on that income.
According to the Washington Post, Financial Transaction Management will activate accepting applications for new accessories and processors on July 14th. It will acceptable booty a few weeks to alike baddest an applicant, and afresh added time to get the new accessories and software out to the markets. Financial Transaction Management has said absolutely annihilation about its approaching plans, why it has called not to abide application a allegiant arrangement (even aloof to anticipate a gap in service), or back SNAP allowances will absolutely assignment at farmers markets again.
The USDA has not replied to requests for comment. Neither has Angela Sparrow or Financial Transaction Management. We will amend this with any new advice if/when it comes in. In the meantime, those who charge it best are about to lose admission to advantageous food.
UPDATE: On Monday, July 16, the USDA issued a account on this topic, admitting it doesn’t do abundant to analyze what is absolutely going. Read our assay here.
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