Friday, May 7, 2010

EBT.... Easy as 1-2-3

I don't know about this passage of time thing. All of a sudden it's Friday and the Market is tomorrow and blog has been neglected for the week. This week's entry is important, if only to tell you about how our new EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) and credit/debit system will work at the Market.

But first - how about some video? We shoot "Market Menu" every Tuesday and it's on the internets by Wednesday. I'll try to remember to post it here when it gets released - I do usually remember to put it on Facebook by Wednesday. Here it is. I was ill-prepared for filming, but I do manage to impart some information:

Many thanks to Jason Liggett of Urbana Public Television (UPTV) for taking the time to film and edit these pieces each week.

So - on to the subject at hand. First, let me ask a few questions:

- Ever run out of cash at the Market and didn't feel like hiking to the nearest cash machine?
- Ever wanted to use your LINK card and were disappointed to find out you couldn't use it to buy fresh produce at the Market?
- Ever find a work of art or a bunch of produce you wanted to purchase using your credit card, only to find out you couldn't?

Those days are over! With this new credit/debit/LINK system we're debuting tomorrow, you'll be able to do all of those things at the Market without leaving the Market. Here's how the system works:
  1. Patrons wanting to use their credit/debit/LINK cards stop by the City tent at the NW corner of the Market to get their card swiped through our brand new wireless terminal.
  2. City staff swipes your card through said terminal. PIN is entered, if necessary, and then the desired dollar amount is entered. Credit and debit purchases will carry a $1.00 convenience charge added on to your requested amount, but LINK purchases will never carry a fee.
  3. After your transaction is approved, City staff will disburse the amount you requested not in cash, but in cool wooden tokens. Tokens printed in orange are for credit/debit purchases at any vendor in the Market; the LINK tokens - printed in green - are good for LINK-eligible foods by the vendors who sell those foods. There'll be signs at each vendor booth - look for them.
Here's what the tokens look like:

If you have questions or want to try it out, stop by the City tent while you're at the Market and we can show you how it works. Be gentle on us as we get this system going - the technology is new to us! Despite our nervousness about the technology, the Cityand Market staff are VERY EXCITED to be able to provide this service to patrons - and to vendors.

This week: Asparagus, strawberries (you heard me), lettuces, spinach, mixed greens, green onions, radishes, rapini, rhubarb, and other early-season produce, plus meats, cheeses, eggs, honey, and a metric ton of vegetable, herb, and other plant starts, as is usually the case around Mother's Day.

Next week: We hope to be able to start having information about the concept of Eating Here

available at the Market. Banners, TV, and radio ads will all be extolling the virtues of Eating Here - buying Illinois-grown fruits and vegetables from the people who grow them. It's good for you, it's good for them, it keep money in our local area and promotes good community vibes. Stay tuned.May 22: Looks like Champaign County Extension's Master Gardeners, along with Market vendor Tiny Greens, will be partnering with the Market for the first Sprouts at the Market event of the season. More info in next week's entry!

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