Farm Direct Incentives Guide

Illinois Farmers Markets Using EBT: Impacts on SNAP Redemption and Market Sales

ABSTRACT: The number of people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is currently at an all-time high. The switch from food stamp coupons to the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system was completed nationwide in 2004, yet almost 75% of the nation’s farmers markets are not equipped to accept EBT. The state of Illinois has the sixth largest number of farmers markets in the U.S. and only 24% of its farmers markets accept EBT. The objective of this study is to identify variables important to facilitate successful EBT transactions at Illinois farmers markets. A survey was administered electronically to all Illinois farmers market managers who reported using EBT in 2011 in this cross-sectional study. Twenty-four markets participated and completed the survey. The main outcome measure was EBT sales at farmers markets in 2011. We used linear regression analysis to examine effects of selected market characteristics and management variables on EBT sales. We also performed a paired sample t-test to compare the sales of 2010 and 2011 and did correlation analysis to explore relationships between EBT and total credit and debit sales. SNAP redemptions increased significantly in Illinois farmers markets using EBT. Use of incentives, receipts or direct swipes, and volunteers handling EBT transactions had significant positive effects on EBT sales. Total credit and debit sales and the number of EBT transactions were found to be positively correlated. We conclude that having EBT service increases SNAP redemption at farmers markets, and that obtaining funds for incentive programs and using “receipts” method over tokens or scripts in processing EBT transactions should be areas to prioritize in adopting EBT at farmers markets.
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