One third of Indiana’s SNAP-accepting farmers markets could face service disruptions
Last week, Novo Dia Group, developers, owners and operators of the Mobile Market+ SNAP redemption processing software and hardware informed USDA FNS that they will discontinue their services effective July 31st.
Hoosier Farmers Market Association (HFMA) was disheartened to learn of this news. Nationwide 1,700 farms, CSAs and farmers markets are negatively impacted. In Indiana, 33 locations providing over 40% of all direct-marketing and farmers market SNAP transactions between Indiana farmers and our low-income neighbors using Hoosier Works cards will likely have disrupted SNAP services late this summer. We are working on behalf of our member markets, vendors, farmers and consumers to lessen the severity of the outage.
Recent SNAP changes impact farmers markets statewide including The Original Farmers Market at Indy City Market.
While USDA FNS announced its relaunch of the federal Free EBT Equipment Program, markets affected by the Novo Dia Group shutdown are not eligible for this equipment sub-grant. Furthermore, those interrupted by the shutdown must purchase new equipment and are responsible for fees. They have been informed their contracts are non-transferable to other current or past USDA FNS Free EBT Equipment Program Providers. Indiana is one of nine states that offers free point-of-sale equipment for qualifying farms and markets through the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration (FSSA). The FSSA option while free, does not meet the needs of all our markets; it provides a data-only plan without access to wireless internet technology, uses 3G technology, is carrier dependent with a single cellular data company, and excludes credit and debit card transactions. The initial cost of purchasing equipment outright plus operating fees for a year is roughly $1,000—a figure unreachable for the majority of our small- and mid-sized markets.
On July 19th, the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) announced support of Novo Dia Group’s operations through August 31, 2018 is a temporary solution. NAFMNP’s support is critical giving markets time to select new providers and acquire funding to cover equipment fees. This short-term solution also extends time for service providers to deliver equipment to impacted markets nationwide. HFMA is grateful for the dedication FSSA and NAFMNP for meeting the needs of our families receiving SNAP benefits and our small diversified farmers that rely on SNAP sales as income.
HFMA and our national partner the Farmers Market Coalition wish to avoid disruptions and prevent possible discontinuations in farmers market SNAP. Rather than a chapter of a national organization, HFMA is an FMC State Partner and an independent public member benefit public education nonprofit. HFMA is committed to addressing short-term solutions and a long-term sustainable model to SNAP support, operations, programs and advocacy for Indiana’s farmers markets. We have an immediate need to relay rapidly changing news and information to markets and customers and provide support to markets in making well-informed decisions about their SNAP operations. To do this, we need your help.
Donate now to help families and farmers impacted by these recent SNAP program changes. Once you contribute, share your fundraising efforts widely with family, friends and colleagues. We believe every family whether they earn $5,000 or $500,000 annually deserves availability and access to local food produced by Indiana farmers. Do you? If so, please join us.