Project: Foodstamps and Farmers' Markets

Help devise a system for using food stamps to buy better produce. We all can agree that fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of...

Help devise a system for using food stamps to buy better produce.

We all can agree that fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of good health. Yet access to fresh produce remains an enormous challenge. For people on food stamps, it’s an especially difficult one as there are few supermarkets in low income neighborhoods with sufficient offerings. Even thought more farmers’ markets are springing up across the country—and more than 750 farmers’ markets nationwide accept food stamps—other challenges remain.

Foodstamps, of course, are no longer physical stamps but “electronic benefit transfer” cards (or EBTs). This has helped remove the stigma for recipients of aid—and makes shopping at supermarkets easier—but has left farmers’ markets in a tough spot: without a battery-powered wireless card reader, food-stamp recipients can't use their EBT cards. The lack of this simple machine is keeping people from buying fresh food. Many farmers are unable to afford the cost of the equipment (about $1,100 per reader) required to accept the debit cards; others feel the paperwork and record keeping is onerous.

Some (but not all) states have agreed to fund programs to facilitate the use of food stamps at farmers’ markets. Vendors can use hand-held devices, and in some cases cell phones, to process transactions. Other markets, like San Francisco’s Alemany Market, allow EBT card users to exchange their credit for market-specific tokens that can be used at individual booths, but the extra step required has resulted in a drop off in use of food stamps at farmers’ markets.

All of which begs the question: how can we make food stamps easier to use and to accept at farmers’ markets?

Make it easy to use and accept food stamps at farmers’ markets.

Invent a low cost, easy to implement solution. Is it an app? Centralized check-out? Delivery? Something totally low tech? Barter? Trade? Let us know.

Post a comment, tweet @GOOD, or e-mail projects[at]goodinc[dot]com with your solution to the problem of how to accept food stamps at farmers' markets. Your response can take the form of a sentence, a paragraph, a sketch, an annotated photo—whatever you think will best convey your idea. Deadline is Monday, March 29. UPDATE: You can also submit ideas via our project page on ChallengePost.


A two-minute television ad from New Zealand is a gut punch to dog lovers who smoke cigarettes. "Quit for Your Pets" focuses on how second-hand smoke doesn't just affect other humans, but our pets as well.

According to Quitline New Zealand, "when you smoke around your pets, they're twice as likely to get cancer."

Keep Reading
via Bossip / Twitter

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders took aim at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg onstage at Wednesday's Las Vegas Democratic debate, likening the billionaire businessman to President Donald Trump and questioning his ability to turn out voters.

Sanders began by calling out Bloomberg for his stewardship of New York's stop and frisk policy that targeted young black men.

Keep Reading
via United for Respect / Twitter

Walmart workers issued a "wake up call" to Alice Walton, an heir to the retailer's $500 billion fortune, in New York on Tuesday by marching to Walton's penthouse and demanding her company pay its 1.5 million workers a living wage and give them reliable, stable work schedules.

The protest was partially a response to the company's so-called "Great Workplace" restructuring initiative which Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out in at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by the end of 2020.

Keep Reading