Released July 16, 2008
DURHAM, N.H. — Last year 59,000 New Hampshire residents received more than $62 million in food stamp benefits, nearly all of which was spent supermarkets and convenience stores.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire fruit and vegetable growers have increasingly turned to marketing their crops directly to consumers through farmers' markets and farm stands. This summer, 75 or more New Hampshire communities will host farmers' markets.
Growers typically receive only about 20 percent of a retail shopper's food dollar, so direct marketing not only enables consumers to get fresh, locally grown food, but it also allows farmers to capture more of the profit.
In 2004, UNH Cooperative Extension received a three-year grant from the Northeast Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) to connect food-stamp recipients with local growers by piloting the process of accepting food-stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards at farmers' markets.
Demonstration projects at markets in Nashua, Manchester and Enfield proved that the process would work. Extension's Helen Costello (who now heads the N.H. Food Bank's Recipe for Success Program) then developed a manual for market managers and farmers' market managers and vendors.
Published this month, Accepting Food Stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards at Farmers' Markets and Farm Stands: A Primer for Farmers and Market Managers highlights step by step the process by which an individual farmer or an entire market can become authorized to become a food stamp merchant, as well as listing the various ways to process transactions, the equipment needed for each, and other technical aspects needed to be successful.