Understanding Card Services

About Card Services:  

Foothills Farmers’ Market offers a card services program at all of our market locations. This program allows shoppers to swipe their debit or EBT cards at the FFM Token Tent in exchange for wooden tokens that they use to shop with vendors. Vendors are encouraged to participate in this program. Why?

  • It provides a convenience to customers who prefer not to carry cash
  • It increases sales opportunities for vendors
  • EBT makes healthy, local foods accessible to low-income customers
  • Vendors are reimbursed promptly and don’t have to pay card processing fees


  1. EBT Cards are issued to low-income persons under the US Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly, food stamps). Recipients get different dollar amounts of food assistance each month based on their individual situations and needs.
  2. Debit Cards are bank issued cards that are linked to bank accounts and require a PIN to process the transaction. The dollar amount that is swiped is immediately withdrawn from the account.

How it Works:

  1. A customer wishing to use their debit or EBT card at the market goes to the FFM Token Tent.
  2. The card services representative swipes the customer’s card for the amount he/she would like to spend at FFM that day. 
  3. The customer receives wooden tokens equaling the dollar amount that was swiped.
  4. Customers then spend their tokens with participating FFM vendors.
  5. Vendors turn in any tokens collected at the end of the market day and are reimbursed by check. 

market-tokensAbout the Tokens (Guidelines & Suggestions for Vendors):


EBT TOKENS are in $1 increments, and can only be used for certain eligible food items.

$1 Tokens CAN buy:

  • fruits, vegetables, or culinary herbs
  • meats, fish, or poultry
  • breads and other baked goods
  • dairy products, eggs, and nuts
  • honey or molasses
  • processed foods including jams, jellies, salad dressing, and pickles
  • cider and other non-alcoholic beverages
  • non-hot prepared foods
  • seeds and plants that grow food for the household to eat

$1 Tokens CANNOT buy:

  • any food served hot
  • alcoholic beverages or tobacco products
  • pet foods
  • vitamins or medicines
  • non-food items (soaps, crafts, clothing, cut flowers, ornamental plants, etc.)

EBT customers CANNOT receive any change.  You must sell to them in dollar increments. Please try to make this convenient for the customer without singling them out as needing special treatment. Think ahead about what a $2, $3 or $4 sale would look like… or have some items pre-packaged with prices clearly marked.

You may not trade tokens with another vendor for product or cash. This constitutes food assistance fraud. It is illegal, and could seriously jeopardize market operations!

Incentives for Low-Income Shoppers:  FFM administers a “Market Moola” incentive program to promote healthy eating among low-income families and help them increase their food-buying power. EBT customers receive a $2 Market Moola voucher for every $5 they swipe on their EBT card (limitations apply). These vouchers can only be used for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables and eggs. Additional information for vendors is available here.

DEBIT TOKENS are in $5 increments, and may be used to purchase any item sold at Foothills Farmers’ Market, provided the vendor has elected to participate in the Card Services Program (signed participation agreement must be on file with the market manager).  

Debit customers are able to get change back when they spend their $5 tokens. Change should be in the form of cash. Vendors may not give $1 tokens as change.

Payment to Vendors:  

Vendors will be reimbursed by check at the end of the market day for their tokens, except under extenuating circumstances. Vendors will receive dollar for dollar the amount to equal the tokens they have received from customers. If you receive only one or two tokens, please hold them until the following week… or sell multiple on multiple days, please redeem your tokens only once per week.  This reduces the cost of check-writing.

Program Costs:

There is no cost to vendors to participate in the Card Services Program. Foothills Farmers’ Market covers the transaction fees ($0.40 per debit card swipe and $0.15 per EBT card swipe) and processing fees ($45 per  month). Debit customers only (not EBT customers) are asked to authorize a small additional charge to help offset the cost of transaction fees (this is a donation to FFM).  

New this year: 

Paid members of FFM receive one free debit card swipe per week when they present their membership card.

Required Forms:  

All vendors are required to submit one of the following with their application packet:

A Note About Credit Cards:

Vendors are permitted to accept credit cards at their individual booths using their own point-of-sale and mobile devices.

Reference Guide:

A printable Card Services Reference Guide for vendors is available here.