Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Technology for Missouri Markets

One challenge many farmers’ markets face in this electronic age is the ability to run sales through plastic EBT cards (food stamps), debit and credit cards. There are more than 100 markets across Missouri that have no access to land phone lines or electrical outlets for their customers that visit the markets. Therefore food stamp recipients are unable to use their food stamp benefits to purchase fresh locally grown food at their hometown farmers’ market.

(Photo: Eileen Nichols "rings up" a customer with the eFunds wireless terminal at the Webb City Market.)

But, change is coming. The eFunds wireless POS Terminal Solution is changing the way farmers’ markets operate.

These wireless machines are allowing food stamp recipients with EBT cards and other customers that might not be carrying cash, but do have a credit or debit card, to buy freshly harvested fruits and vegetables from local farmers in their neighborhood. At the same time this technology helps the farmers’ markets provide fresh food promoting better eating habits and profits the entire community by keeping local dollars at home.

The Webb City Farmers’ Market in southwest Missouri is the first market in Missouri to be tapping into this new way to purchase produce at the market.

How It Works?
Customers wanting to purchase produce at the market and want to use their credit or debit cards go to the market managers. The customer tells the market manager I would like $10.00 on my card. In return, the market managers run the customer’s card (just like any other normal credit card transaction in a store) and give the customer wooden tokens that represent $1, $5 or $10. Then when the customer wants to make a purchase at the market, they pay the producer with their tokens. Customers are given back cash for any change that is due. At the end of the day the producers turn in their tokens to the market managers and receive their cash payouts.

For EBT Purchases

The government restricts how EBT can be handled at the market. Tokens can be spent on any food item except hot food and food you eat right at the market. It can also be spent on edible plants like herbs or plants to produce food like tomato plants. The government does not allow the vendors to give change for EBT tokens. If a purchase requires change, you can pay the whole dollars in tokens and the change in cash or you can pay the full amount in tokens and give up the change.

For more information about eFunds wireless terminals contact Ron Green, Senior Account Manager at 414-341-5007 or by email at

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