Examining Barriers to Implementation of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) in Farmers Markets: Perspectives from Market Managers
Keywords:Electronic Benefit Transfer, EBT, Farmers Market, Farmers Market Managers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP
AbstractFarmers markets are generally considered one of the healthiest places to purchase food. However, less than 1% of food assistance dollars are redeemed at farmers markets. Because farmers markets have operated historically as cash operations, they are still experimenting and struggling to find ways to redeem electronic food share benefits. Much work on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) has focused on barriers from users' perspectives. Farmers markets have often been overlooked during the transition from food stamps to EBT. This paper takes an in-depth look at barriers and facilitators to successful implementation of EBT at farmers markets from the market manager's perspective. The researchers interviewed a semi¬random geographic sample of farmers market managers across Wisconsin (N=13) to determine if and how the electronic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are redeemed at their market and identify factors that impede or aid EBT redemption. Data were analyzed using grounded theory analysis. Several positive and negative themes emerged from the interviews as factors associated with successful EBT programs, including community support, perceived match of EBT with market mission, stable financing, perceived benefit to vendors, and vendor acceptance of EBT. Farmers markets have the potential to reduce food insecurity through EBT redemption. Understanding the main barriers as well as effective strategies for successful implementation of EBT in farmers markets is imperative to realize the full potential of this program. Understanding difficulties from market managers' perspectives is important to inform future policy initiatives to streamline reimbursement at farmers markets.
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