My main goal as a direct marketing farmer in 2020 is to be able to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions for community members in Haines and Klukwan— just like our local grocery stores do.
SNAP (formerly Food Stamps Program) is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS). In Alaska these benefits are distributed by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Assistance. Since 2008 SNAP benefits have been distributed in the form of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) plastic cards resembling credit cards. This made SNAP transactions a lot more discrete for food stamps recipients which was a positive change. However, the transition to plastic swipe cards from paper vouchers has also added considerable processing and equipment costs for retailers.
I grow— and sell directly to people in my community—over 30 types of nutrient-dense vegetable crops throughout a five-month-long season. I use organic farming practices in my gardens and my farm (Four Winds Farm) is Certified Naturally Grown. Since 2015 I have been authorized with the State of Alaska to accept WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program) vouchers direct from local customers who qualify and participate in those programs. These vouchers are still in paper form. Until this year I haven’t been able to accept SNAP EBT cards from customers for qualifying fresh produce since I lack the processing equipment necessary to do so. Hopefully this is about to change for 2020!
My project seeks to acquire the equipment needed to process SNAP EBT cards for local customers. If I am able to find funding for this one-time equipment purchase I will have implementation assistance from the Alaska Farmers Market Association (as well as other Alaskan farmers participating in SNAP) for setting up the accounts and agency contracts to be an authorized SNAP retailer
Funded by Alaska (March 2020)