In her Cook for Good blog, Linda Watson writes about 21st Century Farmers’ Markets.
Robert Andrews Smith of the Leaflight Foundation gave a terrific presentation on modernizing farmers’ markets by helping them accept electronic payments. Food stamps, now called SNAP payments, come in a credit-card like form. The Leaflight Foundation helps farmers’ markets accept these electronic SNAP payments and standard credit cards, making the good local food more available to the needy and more convenient for everyone. The foundation also shows farmers the value of accepting SNAP payments by using mapping software to show the proximity of food-stamp recipients to the markets. It also simplifies the application process and the administration aspects of receiving payments, helping to identify and spread best practices among markets. For example, SNAP customer get charming $1 wooden tokes and credit-card customers get $5 ones, making it easy for the vendors to see which customers can only buy items on the government-approved list and can’t receive cash in change.