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Increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Electronic Benefits Transfer Sales at Farmers' Markets with Vendor-Operated Wireless Point-of-Sale Terminals

Published:March 19, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2011.12.021

      Abstract

      Background

      Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly Food Stamp Program) participants can use their benefits at many farmers' markets. However, most markets have only one market-operated wireless point-of-sale (POS) card swipe terminal for electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions. It is not known whether providing each farmer/vendor with individual wireless POS terminals and subsidizing EBT fees will increase SNAP/EBT purchases at farmers' markets.

      Objective

      To evaluate the effects of multiple vendor-operated wireless POS terminals (vs a single market-operated terminal) on use of SNAP benefits at an urban farmers' market.

      Design

      Time-series analyses of SNAP/EBT sales.

      Setting

      The Clark Park farmers' market in West Philadelphia, PA, which accounts for one quarter of all SNAP/EBT sales at farmers' markets in Pennsylvania.

      Intervention

      Vendors were provided with individual wireless POS terminals for 9 months (June 2008-February 2009.) The pilot program covered all equipment and wireless service costs and transaction fees associated with SNAP/EBT, credit, and debit sales.

      Main outcome measure

      Monthly SNAP/EBT sales at the Clark Park farmers' market.

      Statistical analyses

      SNAP/EBT sales data were collected for 48 months (January 2007-December 2010). Time-series regression analysis was used to estimate the effect of the intervention period (June 2008-February 2009) on SNAP/EBT sales, controlling for seasonal effects and total SNAP benefits issued in Philadelphia.

      Results

      The intervention was associated with a 38% increase in monthly SNAP/EBT sales. Effects were greatest during the busy fall market seasons. SNAP/EBT sales did not remain significantly higher after the intervention period.

      Conclusions

      Providing individual wireless POS terminals to farmers' market vendors leads to increased sales. However, market vendors indicated that subsidies for equipment costs and fees would be needed to break even. Currently, SNAP provides some support for these services for supermarket and other SNAP retailers with landline access, but not for farmers' markets.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      A. M. Buttenheim is assistant professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and a senior fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

      Biography

      J. Havassy is serving with the US Navy; at the time of the study, he was a research assistant, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

      Biography

      M. Fang is an undergraduate student, Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; at the time of the study, she was a research assistant, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

      Biography

      J. Glyn is with Whole Foods, Philadelphia, PA; at the time of the study, he was a farmers' market manager at The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA.

      Biography

      A. E. Karpyn is director of Research and Evaluation, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA.