Free EBT Reader Equipment through Wisconsin DHS

Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, is a food assistance program that is similar to a debit card issued by the government. EBT helps low income individuals gain access to fresh, locally grown produce. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the DHS website, “FoodShare has been a crucial lifeline to safe and nutritious food for almost 700,000 Wisconsinites”. The cards require specific EBT readers (which have no additional fee for the farmers market or direct market). Wisconsin is using funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) ACT to help retailers offer a safer shopping experience, minimizing direct contact.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is now offering free, wireless equipment that accepts EBT card payments! Their goal is to increase the number of farmers markets and direct marketing farmers able to accept EBT card payments from Foodshare Benefit recipients. Direct Marketing Farmers, which are individual farmers or family farmers selling their own farm products, and farmer’s markets, including all of the vendors, are eligible to apply for this equipment. All of the service fees will also be covered by the DHS!

The equipment to process EBT card transactions being offered:

  1. A card reader which attaches to most smartphones and uses the cell phone’s network for EBT transactions. The equipment provided also includes a Bluetooth wireless printer for receipts.
  2. An iPad (which can only work on an AT&T wireless network), a card reader, and the Bluetooth receipt printer.
  3. An independent wireless EBT card reader (the Verifone V680, which functions without connecting to another device) with a built in printer.

In order to take advantage of this great opportunity and get the equipment, complete and submit the application form, F-01697, available in English, Spanish, and Hmong. The application deadline is August 31, 2021. If you have any questions about the application, reach out to Share this blog post to let others know about this effort, and to increase the accessibility of fresh, Wisconsin produce.