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Funding to bring EBT machines to farm markets

By Sally Voth svoth@nvdaily.com

Farmers' markets in Virginia have a couple more weeks to apply for state help in getting wireless machines that will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending $4 million -- with $92,000 available in the commonwealth -- to get the Electronic Benefit Transfer machines to farmers' markets, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"The big push is to have our clients make better food choices, so [the] USDA has been encouraging markets to accept SNAP for several years, but they're really getting more and more attention behind it," said Toni Blue Washington, an EBT project consultant with the Virginia Department of Social Services. "We think it's a win-win for our clients and for the farmers out there. This gives them another source of revenue and it helps our clients make better food choices."

Each wireless machine costs about $1,000, Washington said. She said the funding will cover the cost of the machine and monthly fees associated with each SNAP transaction.

While the machines also can be used for credit card and debit card payments, the markets would have to have a separate contract to cover their use, according to Washington.

SNAP clients wishing to use their benefit card at a farmers' market, would go to a central location at the market and say how much money they wish to use at eligible vendors, Washington said. Their cards will be swiped and they'll be given tokens. Vendors then turn in the tokens for the appropriate amount of cash, according to Washington.

Funds must be encumbered by Sept. 30, so there is a Sept. 7 deadline for market managers to apply for the program, Washington said. Some machines have already been given out, she said.

Interested market managers should contact Washington at toni.washington@dss.virginia.gov, or 804 726-7662, or Leanne DuBois at VDACS at leanne.dubois@vdacs.virginia.gov, or 804 225-3663, according to the release.


if its for fruits and vegatables i dont have a problem with it.the problem lies in things like sodas cookies and chips (junk food) not to mention prepaired foods (sheetz subs).

yep i agree with you 100 percent, MSM, it it is for things wholesome its all good. Darn you can't beat a fresh tomatoe off the limb/vine.

This is great. The only downside I can possibly see is the price difference between the farmers market and the grocery store. *Note I am NOT complaining about prices, its worth it to pay a few dollars more for fresh, local goods. (especially asparagus and strawberries) But I do imagine that may be a concern for those on an extremely limited food budget.
All in all its a win/win, the sellers get more sales, and more buyers get access to fresh foods =D

yep them farmers markets are high in price. that was in the back of my mind when I was typing earlier. I guess I'm bit lucky with bartering with what I don't grow, or getting access tomatoes from someone, or bartering eggs for corn.

I guess i dislike seeing someone going into a place like 7-11 and buying their milk, a bunch of hot dogs, etc with their card.

It would be great if there could be some sort of partnership that say gave out a couple plants at the beginning of the season and showed people how to grow their own. Alot of people really have no idea how easy it is to grow their own even without land space. Few 5 gallon buckets and some ingenuity...you got yourself a little garden.

Who knows, maybe with more revenue the sellers can adjust pricing??

The only people this will help are those who ate healthy before going on food stamps. The rest will continue to buy junk or convenience food on our dollar, yet have money for cigarettes and beer....and why not, they aren't paying for food!

Possibly Rusty. That delves into a much deeper question as to why its cheaper to feed your family say...hamburger helper over a more well balance nutritional meal? Actually, I think I could buy a box and a pound of hamburger for the same price I buy the fresh asparagus.

While I'm aware every time food stamps is mentioned, someone has the story of the abusers they heard of, I would hazard a guess that if they went down to their local social services and asked some questions they would gain some enlightenment.

This is still a good thing.

It's a good thing . . . . if they'll use it. I was behind a woman at WalMart one afternoon. She had two separate orders: She bought make up with cash then her children piled up $65 worth of GUM that she paid for with EBT. $65 worth of freaking GUM, explain how that is "supplementing" nutrition. There I was with my 1 roaster chicken, half gallon milk, and pack ramen noodles to last me a whole week. It's really not a wonder why people get a little disgusted with the program . . . .

Wow, that is unreal, all that gum. That is about as bad as I have heard it. you would think social services could track something like that. I'm with you "oh conservative me", it seems like it is tough for the working person. I bet you she has no medical bills to pay also.

I have valley health breathing down my back every 6 months, paying them what I can, which is relatively good amount per month. Now I hear valley health is outsourcing there payment thing with a private company, and that if you do not pay your bill down in 6 months, you get charged 6 or 7 percent interest. Sorry, I got off the beaten path with the valley health thing and I do not want to turn this into a novel.....well I guess atleast I'm not copying and pasting this...lol.

OMG!!, Did you take your complaint to the local social services office? Discuss with them if they attempt to fight abuse? Did you write your congressmen that we need to work harder to avoid abuse in the system? Start a healthy eating movement? Ooooh better yet, did you volunteer to teach a class down at social services on eating healthy AND saving money? No? Why not?

For crying out loud this wasn't a story about if there are people that abuse the system or not. Its a good thing. Win for the farmers market sellers and a win for fresh, local food options. Instead of complaining, go be productive.

too funny katybug, i typed a sort of parellel typing to yours earlier. but it never went through. I'm going to bed, you about covered it on yours.

...it wasnt really parallel to yours. Because yep we should be typing this stuff to our politicians, i agree.

I had a friend that lived on base at Ft. Lee when I lived down in the city. One of the many eye opening things I learned from her was that we had military families living there on food stamps because the pay was so little. This was 05-06ish. It does tend to wear on my nerves that people pick out the worst possible negatives of very necessary programs to try use that against the programs. If I could grant any gift on humanity it would be the ability to see and understand other perspectives. So many problems would become irrelevant.

You're very sharp Katybug, both in your perspectives and hind-foresight.. I am not going to over-generalize about the recipients of welfare and the usage of the EBT programme, but the nutritional issue is of the utmost concern to me.. BBC had an article on the usage and prohibitions of the same programme, which limited the selections.. Mayhaps America could look into their results and implementations (Australia) of their restrictions.. Reggie Arno Danville VA..

Absolutely agree with all that you said, Katybug---you have put all of this in perspective so well. You especially nailed it with your last two comments. I could not add anything more to what you have said.

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