How Do I Use EBT and Harvest Bucks?
Sometimes the process of using EBT cards and Harvest Bucks is a little intimidating for newcomers, so here is a guest post from our Market Clerk, Wendy, that we think might help.
I try to encourage EBT customers during their first encounter with the market. I point out that the vendor sheets we pass around are the same for all card carriers, there is no difference for them because the card is EBT.
I think my encouragement goes a long way. Often the EBT crowd is discriminated against. I try to make them feel excited about eating healthy, doubling their food money and making purchases from vendors who are happy for the sale. When the shoppers learn about the benefits of using EBT and Harvest Bucks at our market they are so excited. Our vendors are glad to receive Harvest Bucks and excited to see the people who carry them walk to their stands. This money helps the vendors almost as much as it helps the families relying on EBT. Many of our EBT customers are elderly, disabled or young parents. It is good to see them trying to take care of themselves.
I tell them we have this great program and ask if they have heard about Harvest Bucks. If they say yes, from another market, I continue like they don’t know anything. If they have used them here, I just remind them they get a dollar for each EBT dollar they spend and that the Harvest Bucks can only be spent at this market and ONLY on fruits and vegetables.
I’ll explain that some people prefer to shop first for milk, bread, meat and cheese, pay with their EBT card, and collect Harvest Bucks and with those, they go around and pay vendors directly for fresh fruits and vegetables. I tell them the vendors love the program because it really increases their sales. I think this excites people. I tell them others spend at the beginning of the month as they normally would, but at the end of the month when they have less money available, they use the Harvest Bucks to stock up on fresh produce. We have both sorts of shoppers. We also have people who are collecting Harvest Bucks to spend later in August and September when the harvest is bountiful because they will can and freeze vegetables and fruit themselves.
To help explain how to use EBT and Harvest Bucks to our diverse community, many with limited English, Chris Jackson and I created a picture based set of instructions.
- Get a MARKET SLIP from the Market Clerk
- Shop for food* with the vendors. Have them mark items on your MARKET SLIP.
- Turn your MARKET SLIP into the Market Clerk and pay for your food with your EBT card
- The Market Clerk will give you HARVEST BUCKS for each EBT dollar you spend, after you pay with your EBT card
- Return** to vendors to purchase fruits and vegetables*** with your HARVEST BUCKS
- Pay the vendor directly with your HARVEST BUCKS
* Items purchased with EBT at the Market are limited by the same restrictions as all SNAP food purchases.
** You may save up your Harvest Buck for later or use them today. Mill Park Market Harvest Bucks must be spent at the Mill Park Market before the printed expiration date .
*** Foods purchased with Harvest Bucks are limited to fruits and vegetables with limited processing. For example, foods having added salt, oil, or sugar are not eligible for purchase with Harvest Bucks.
Please visit me at the information booth to learn how to shop with Credit/Debit or EBT/SNAP. The vendors and I will help you understand how EBT shoppers can benefit from the Harvest Bucks incentive program and answer any questions.