Market Bucks FAQs for farmers markets
I have heard about the $10 gift certificates that are available to some community partners this season. How do I access these for community partners in my area?
Because this is the first season we are using gift certificates, it is hard to predict how many will be available and what the redemption rates will be. In June, a large amount of gift certificates will be sent directly to SNAP customers – we hope this will draw a lot of first time customers to your market. This first batch of gift certificates will expire at the end of June. After we see how many were turned in at markets across the state, we will start issuing more for community partners. Please email me if you have a specific community partner who would like to be on this list. Each round of gift certificates will only be valid for a month. Market Bucks, on the other hand, do not expire until the end of October.
Is there a cap to how many Market Bucks can be used at my market?
No. Hunger Solutions will reimburse your market for the total number of Market Bucks redeemed throughout the season, as long as they are logged into the online portal at hungersolutions.org/mbstats.
I received a farmers market support grant from Hunger Solutions. What is this for?
This grant is meant to cover administrative costs your market incurs from running the Market Bucks program. This may include staffing the EBT booth, bookkeeping expenses or outreach expenses. It has nothing to do with how many Market Bucks can be redeemed at your market.
My market doesn’t have an EBT card reader. Can I still take Market Bucks?
No. You have to be able to accept SNAP-EBT in order to participate in Market Bucks. For help getting set up with an EBT card reader, the Minnesota Farmers Market Association can help.
Some people in my community have been really negative about Market Bucks. What do I tell them?
Every situation is different. Generally, when people are opposed to Market Bucks, we remind them that Market Bucks are a “win-win-win” for customers, vendors, and the community.
- Market Bucks help people who aren’t able to afford much fresh produce to purchase healthier items; and,
- Most farmers market vendors are small, local farmers. Participating in Market Bucks means they sell more of their products.
- Market Bucks and SNAP are good for the community. In 2016, the program generated nearly $1 million in economic activity across the state.
I need help with my card reader/accounting/staffing/sponsorship/other technical issues. Can you help?
No. Hunger Solutions only administers the Market Bucks portion of farmers markets. For technical assistance on other aspects of running a farmers market, the Minnesota Farmers Market Association can help.
I have a great idea for outreach, but don’t have the time to do it. Can you help?
We know that running a farmers market sometimes doesn’t leave a lot of time to promote Market Bucks. If you have a brilliant idea, let us know. We might be able to help you spread the word.
How do I do outreach to my community? Who should I be reaching out to?
Reach out to organizations where people go for help or information. In addition to where you market your farmers market, be sure to reach out to local social services agencies – like Community Action, WIC offices, health care providers, and your local food shelf. Libraries and community centers are also a good place to leave information.
How do I record and report the data?
Hunger Solutions worked with Wholesome Wave to develop a form to use at the EBT/info booth to track how many Market Bucks you have distributed and redeemed. Enter the data through the online portal to submit it to us for reimbursement.
How do I get reimbursed for Market Bucks?
Submit your data to Hunger Solutions via the online portal by the 5th of the following month. (For example, data for the month of June must be entered by July 5.) Hunger Solutions will process the request and reimburse you by ACH or paper check.
How do I get materials or more Market Bucks cards throughout the season?
Most of the materials are available for you to print your own on-demand. If you need Market Bucks cards email us with how many you need.
What do I do if someone comes to me with an expired gift certificate?
Since the funding available for the gift certificates is limited, once a gift certificate is past its expiration date it is no longer valid. Let the customer know the card is expired, but encourage them to use their SNAP-EBT card to purchase tokens and get the regular Market Bucks match.
What’s the deal with the gift certificates?
As part of the Legislative funding for Market Bucks, some of the funding is set aside for incentives to encourage people to try out the farmers market. We have mailed gift certificates for Market Bucks to select SNAP users near the farmers markets to encourage them to try it. We are also distributing gift certificates on a rolling basis to community agencies and food shelves throughout the season so they can encourage their clients to try out the farmers market.
How many Market Bucks can I get?
As many as you want! We will reimburse markets using Market Bucks monthly, and there is no cap on the number of Market Bucks you can use.