Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Food stamp customers buy more at farmers' markets when point-of-sale system is available

15.03.2012
Policy change could potentially increase SNAP sales at farmers' markets, according to new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Record numbers of Americans are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, as food stamps are now known, and many SNAP participants live in neighborhoods with little or no access to healthy food.

A study conducted at the Clark Park Farmers' Market, in Philadelphia, PA, has found that making it easier for vendors to collect SNAP payments with electronic point-of-sale systems increased fresh produce sales to SNAP recipients by 38%. However, the costs associated with such systems may put them out of reach for farmers. The study, by researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program and The Food Trust, is published online today in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Co-investigator Allison E. Karpyn, Director of Research and Evaluation at The Food Trust, says, "There has been considerable policy interest recently in increasing the redemption of food benefits at farmers' markets. From our experiences managing dozens of farmers' markets here in Philadelphia, we knew that the way SNAP transactions are processed at markets might impact sales. So we set out to learn if making it easier to process these transactions would increase fresh produce and other purchases by SNAP participants."

Typically, the way that SNAP benefits are processed at farmers' markets is cumbersome. SNAP participants access their benefits through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. To accept them, vendors must rent wireless point-of-sale (POS) terminals, pay for wireless service, and cover transaction fees. Because of the associated costs, many market managers operate a single wireless POS terminal for the entire market. SNAP beneficiaries may buy a token that they can exchange for produce, but they can't receive change. Alternatively, customers can make their selections with a vendor, get a paper receipt for the total amount of the purchase, and present the receipt to the central terminal, where the customer's EBT card is swiped for the exact amount of purchase. This must be repeated for each vendor the customer wants to visit. In contrast, traditional retailers use free POS systems provided by USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and transactions are carried by a land line.

In 2008, The Food Trust received a grant from the USDA's Farmers' Market Promotion Program to provide each vendor at the Clark Park Farmers' Market with a wireless POS terminal for EBT and credit/debit card transactions. The grant covered all associated wireless charges, transaction fees, and processing fees during a pilot program which ran from June 2008 through February 2009. After the pilot period, the market returned to a single market-operated terminal and receipt system.

Researchers analyzed sales data at the market for four years, beginning 17 months before the pilot project and ending 22 months afterwards. "During the time period for our study, the economic downturn really got underway, and SNAP participation and benefits increased enormously in Philadelphia. We had to control for the amount of SNAP benefits issued in the city each month in our evaluation models," explains co-investigator Alison M. Buttenheim, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society scholar.

Their findings were striking. There was a 38% increase in SNAP/EBT sales during the months with multiple vendor-operated terminals. Dr. Karpyn notes, "There's both good news and bad news in our results. We were able to substantially increase the purchase of fresh foods by SNAP participants with a very simple intervention. The bad news is that after the pilot project ended, sales to SNAP participants declined."

"Vendors told us, and we confirmed with a cost benefit analysis, that they would not be able to break even on sales after paying the associated costs," the authors say. "Our study highlights the need for an equitable approach to subsidizing EBT fees at farmers' markets, given that EBT technology and processing are currently provided free of charge of charge to supermarkets and other brick-and-mortar FNS retailers."

SNAP participation is at an all-time high, and there is growing concern about the diet quality and food choices of people receiving these benefits. "Farmers' markets are seen as a powerful way to support both local farmers and food consumers. The farm bill reauthorization that Congress will undertake this year will drive agricultural and food policy for the next four years. It's important that, as part of that process, we understand how to make farmers' markets as effective as possible in promoting healthy eating for low-income Americans," concludes Dr. Karpyn.

In an accompanying podcast Dr. Buttenheim and Dr. Karpyn discuss the impact of wireless point-of-sale terminals at farmers' markets on sales to SNAP beneficiaries and the policy implications of their research. The podcast is available at http://andjrnl.org/content/podcast.

Eileen Leahy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elsevier.com

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>