The Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market EBT Program assists farmers’ market operators and community partners in establishing, implementing, and promoting CalFresh EBT access at farmers’ markets and other direct-marketing locations. This project has been funded at least in part with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and people like you.
This online toolkit is designed to assist farmers’ market managers, associations, Board members, and farmers in establishing or bolstering their farm-direct outlet’s CalFresh EBT program. If you are a customer interested in learning more about CalFresh visit the California Department of Social Services site or check out our Farmers’ Market Finder to find a farmers’ market near you that accepts your CalFresh EBT card.
The Ecology Center worked with state and federal agencies to select and pilot the Single Point of Sale and Scrip model that is now used across the state. Since pioneering California’s Point of Sale model (POS) at the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Market in 2003, the Farmers’ Market EBT Program has worked with hundreds of markets statewide to identify the barriers to CalFresh EBT adoption and overcome them. To date, we’ve assisted over 350 individual markets statewide with their EBT Programs.
What is a Certified Farmers' Market?
A Certified Farmers’ Market may only be operated by a local government, a certified producer or a non-profit organization. CFMs must be authorized by the county agricultural commissioner and abide by current legislation and regulations. In addition, CFMs should follow established market rules. Market rules are the set of written rules each CFM develops as its blueprint for activities and operations.
Only producers certified by the county agriculture commissioner may sell at a CFM and must display their Certified Producer Certificate, and a sign with language akin to “We Grow What We Sell.” The re-sale of agricultural products at a CFM is prohibited.
While the look and feel of Certified Farmers’ Markets throughout the state varies greatly from county to county, the one thing they all have in common is the selling of agricultural products grown or raised in California. They ensure a direct connection between consumers and the farmers that grow their food. Being a CFM also opens up the opportunity to take advantage of the free POS device program through the California Department of Social Services, as well as free resources from the Ecology Center when setting up an EBT program. It also allows you to be listed on the Ecology Center’s online farmers’ market search tool and map, Farmers’ Market Finder.
If you are interested in becoming a Certified Farmers’ Market and your market is located in one of the counties listed here, you can complete the online application. If your county does not participate in CDFA’s online application system, then you can contact your county agricultural commissioner’s office to find out how to register.
California Department of Agriculture Certified Farmers’ Market Program
For more information or support with setting up a new Certified Farmers’ Market, please visit farmersmarketalliance.org
WHAT IS EBT?
In order to accept CalFresh EBT cards, farmers’ markets typically establish a central Point of Sale (POS) model, allowing the market to sell EBT scrip to customers at a central point in the market. The customer then spends their EBT scrip with any eligible food producer in the market and the market manager later redeems the scrip for cash or in place of a stall fee. This system requires the farmers’ market manager or operator to become authorized as a SNAP retailer by Federal Nutrition Services (FNS) USDA, and to implement and promote the EBT program.
How does it work at the Farmers' Market?
The central POS device is usually located at a staffed market information table or carried by an easily identifiable market staff person. Regardless of the location, market signage should direct EBT cardholders to the POS device.
The staff person asks the customer how much of her food benefits she would like to transfer to scrip. Then the staff person swipes the customer’s card, which debits the amount she requests from the balance stored on the card. (This amount is then transferred from the customer’s account to the market’s or association’s bank account.)
The staff person then issues scrip in the amount requested by the customer. The scrip can be either tokens or paper. (See the tab on the left, EBT SCRIP, for details and regulations.) The customer can use the scrip with vendors in the market to purchase eligible food products. At the end of the market day, vendors trade the scrip for cash, check, or a receipt for future payment from the market operator. The customer can return unused scrip for credit on her EBT card, or hold the scrip for later use. The operating market or association should maintain records and security systems for EBT scrip distribution and redemption. (See Staffing & Redemption Models)
How will this benefit my Farmers' Market or Farm?
Free EBT Webinars
Free Training Webinars!
Click on the links below to view recordings of the full webinars.
Adding EBT Access to Your Farmers’ Market
(Hosted February 2018)
Get an overview of all the steps and requirements to getting your farmers’ market EBT authorized. We cover filling out the FNS application, obtaining a free POS device, designing scrip, implementation at the market, as well as outreach and incentive programs. This webinar is great for farmers’ markets who are just starting the EBT authorization process.
How to Run a Successful Farmers’ Market EBT Program
(Hosted June 2019)
Learn about common barriers for EBT shoppers, outreach to customers, creating community partnerships, how to access the Ecology Center’s free resources, and incentive programs. This webinar is great for markets who are interested in adding EBT, already have EBT access, and for markets interested in incentive programs. We encourage community agencies and organizations who are interested in partnering with farmers’ markets in their area to take advantage of this free information as well!
Adding EBT to Your Farm-Direct Site (Farm stand, CSA, Mobile Market)
See also the slides and notes
(Hosted December 2020)
Get an overview of the process of adding EBT access to farm stands, CSAs, and mobile farmers’ markets. Whether you are a farmer, non-profit, or other type of organization, get your questions answered about the Food and Nutrition Service application, Point of Sale devices, marketing to EBT customers, and more. The International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Farm Stand manager shares his experience of adding EBT to their CSA/farm stand and improving accessibility for low-income customers.
Expanding EBT at Your Farm-Direct Site (Farmers’ Market, Farm stand, CSA, Mobile Market)
See also the slides and notes
(Hosted February 2021)
The CalFresh EBT Program provides 4.8 million Californians an average of $166 for food each month. In this workshop, learn how to grow your EBT customer base by identifying and addressing barriers to EBT customers shopping at your market/farm. Let’s talk about how we can support a local food system that catalyzes inclusivity and belonging.
FARMERS’ MARKET EBT NEWS
Summer 2020 Newsletter: Racial & Food Justice, New Market Match Partners, Pandemic Response Food Resources
Spring 2020 Newsletter: RFA for Market Match Partners, CNIP/GusNIP Grant Awarded, National Training & Technical Assistance, New Team Members
Fall 2019 Newsletter: Small Farm Conference, New Alliance Video, New Team Member
Summer 2019 Newsletter: EBT Webinar, CalFresh Awareness Contest Winners, CalFresh Forum
March 2019 Newsletter: Face-to-Face Conference Highlights, FMSSG Wrap Up, New Kaiser Permanente Grant
December 2018 Newsletter: FM Finder 3.0 Launch, 2018 Farm Bill, New Team Members
July 2018 Newsletter: Novo Dia Group Ceasing Operations, Add CalFresh EBT
April 2018 Newsletter: CalFresh Awareness Month Instagram Contests, FNS Reauthorization, and EBT Training Webinar
February 2018 Newsletter: EBT Training Webinar, Apply to be a Market Match Partner, POS Device Fraud Warnings
December 2017 Newsletter: EBT Training Webinar, Upcoming RFA, Regional WIC Trainings
October 2017 Newsletter: Regional Flyers Available, Welcome New Team Member
December 2016 Newsletter: Free EBT Equipment Program, RFA
Winter 2013 Newsletter: Top 10 Benefits of adding an EBT Program
Fall 2013 Newsletter: Healthy Food Access Index
Summer 2013 Newsletter: Los Angeles Farmers’ Market Finder
September 2013, East Bay Express: Market Match
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. USDA is an equal opportunity provider.