Changes to SNAP benefits processing to affect food markets

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- A change in how SNAP benefits are processed is set to affect local farmers markets.

Specifically, Novo Dia Group, the company that provides roughly 40 percent of the nation's farmers markets with an application to process SNAP payments is closing its doors on July 31.

The change comes at an inconvenient time.

"This is a high volume time of the year for farmers markets," said Charlotte Minguze with the Durham Farmers Market. "This is when most markets are in full swing. So, it's not a good time to not be able to take SNAP cards."

Under the program, SNAP users are able to utilize their benefits at farmers markets to buy fresh produce.

Specifically, at the Durham Farmers Market, their Double Bucks program rewards customers with $10 to use if they spend $10.

Once Novo Dia Group closes, farmers markets who want to continue offering SNAP recipients a service will be required to obtain equipment to accept such payment. The equipment is said to cost $1,000 or more. "We only have 3 weeks to figure out how to come to this solution," said Minguze. "A lot of these farmers markets don't have the programs set up because they just started or they're a really small market."

The Durham Farmers Market, which is largely funded by a generous grant, will be able to transition to a new system in enough time to not disrupt current SNAP recipients who shop there. "We're still here," Minguze admitted. "The program is going to continue running."

However, for other markets across the Triangle, their fate for accepting SNAP is unknown. "It doesn't feel good to think there are people out there that won't be able to use their money at the market," Minguze added.

By the numbers:

  • Wake County SNAP retailers: 712, Farmers Markets: 6
  • Cumberland County SNAP retailers: 331, Farmers Markets: 3
  • Durham County SNAP retailers: 240, Farmers Markets: 4
  • Orange County SNAP retailers: 93, Farmers Markets: 4